While soaps and detergents are great at keeping your body and home clean, they aren't always a clean choice for the planet. Even if you buy in large quantities (which isn't always possible if you live in a small home with little storage space) and use refill packs instead of buying new plastic bottles every few weeks, liquid soaps, shampoos, cleaning solutions, and detergents are heavy and bulky, meaning they take a big carbon footprint to ship. A new company is trying to reduce the environmental impact of your cleaning routine by taking out the part of those products that make them so heavy—the water.
The Cleanyst system allows users to mix their own personal care and cleaning products at home by adding regular tap water to pre-packaged concentrates and blending them together in reusable bottles. The appliance, which just launched on Kickstarter, acts kind of like a Keurig for soap—you pop a concentrate packet in the machine, then it heats up the water and mixes up the concentrate to create a ready-to-use soap, detergent, or shampoo. The process (which Mental Floss saw in action at an April 2019 demo) takes just the push of a button and a few minutes.
Cleanyst is launching with six different home care products (dish soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, and tile/tub cleaner) and four different personal care products (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and hand soap) to start. The company eventually hopes to branch out into even more products, serving as a one-stop shop for all your cleaning and hygiene needs. The dye-free, plant-based concentrates are available in fragrance-free and naturally scented versions, or the company has aromatherapy concentrates that you can mix in to personalize the smell of your products. All of the formulas are vegan and are not tested on animals.
Cleanyst isn't the only company trying to take the water out of cleaning products. For instance, Truman's, a direct-to-consumer cleaning product company launched earlier this year, ships concentrated cleaning solutions for counters, floors, glass, and bathrooms in pocket-sized cartridges. You just have to pop the cartridges into a spray bottle filled with water in order to dilute the mixture.
Cleanyst's creators take that idea a bit further. It's relatively easy to mix a thin surface cleaning solution with water, but creating a more viscous soap from concentrate is much harder. In order to create thicker gel mixtures like hand soap and shampoo—and one day, lotion—Cleanyst uses an industrial mixing system similar to what's available in a laboratory. This means even the thick substances mix evenly with the water, which would likely be impossible to achieve by shaking it up by hand.
Water comprises two-thirds or more of the weight of most home and body care products, and by shipping only concentrates, Cleanyst estimates that it can reduce single-use plastic by 80 percent. And while the concentrates are currently being shipped to users in light plastic pouches, the empty pouches can be mailed back to Cleanyst for recycling.
By reducing shipping and packaging costs, the company is also able to pass on savings to customers—the products are all just a few dollars each, and Cleanyst estimates that the average user can save $150 a year by switching to its system. If you're buying shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, and other personal care products for a family, the savings could be significant over time. All of the home care products cost less than $3 per pouch, while the body wash pouches cost $5 and the shampoo and conditioner pouches cost $6 each.
The kits come with 12-ounce and 16-ounce reusable plastic mixing bottles. (The system automatically dispenses personal care products in 12-ounce quantities and home cleaning products in 16-ounce quantities.) Users can either mix their products in Cleanyst's bottles then use the included spray and pump heads to dispense the final mixture, or use Cleanyst's bottles to mix the products and then transfer the solution to another reusable dispenser.
Buy the Cleanyst system on Kickstarter starting at $99 for the appliance itself, one 12-ounce bottle, one 16-ounce bottle, and two concentrate pouches of your choice. The units are scheduled to ship in December 2019.
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