Cleanyst's Countertop Machine Aims to Be the (Eco-Friendly) Keurig of Cleaning

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.

A hand places a bottle under a Cleanyst machine with a concentrate pouch in it.

Cleanyst, Kickstarter

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.

A cardboard box of Cleanyst concentrate packages

Cleanyst, Kickstarter

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.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

11 Patriotic Products to Celebrate the Fourth of July

Amazon
Amazon

Whether you’ll be lounging by the beach or grilling in your backyard this Independence Day, don’t forget to show off your all-American spirit with a little swag. Here are 11 products to help you celebrate Fourth of July—all of which would pair nicely with your collection of presidential bobbleheads.

1. Declaration Of Independence Signatures Mug; $15

Mug decorated with the signatures from the Declaration of Independence.
CafePress, Amazon

The names of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence are on display on this ceramic coffee mug. Studying the signatures each morning might inspire you to perfect your own John Hancock.

Find it: Amazon

2. Stars And Stripes Cufflinks; $55

Cufflinks with images of stars and stripes on them

Cufflinks Inc., Nordstrom

Brighten up your wardrobe with a splash of American pride. One half of this cufflinks set is striped red and white and the other is blue and spangled with stars. Together they make a patriotic accent piece.

Find it: Nordstrom

3. Fireworks Light Show Projector; $41

Portable fireworks light projector.
Uncle Milton, Amazon

If you want a low-hazard Fourth of July that still delivers thrills, consider getting a light show projector. When it’s pointed at a wall, the device displays vibrant fireworks animations accompanied by realistic sound effects. And it works indoors, so you can count on your Independence Day party ending with a light show no matter the weather forecast. (There's also a Disney version available for just $20.)

Find it: Amazon

4. Inflatable Cooler; $14

Inflatable American flag cooler filled with ice and drinks.
Fun Express, Amazon

When preparing for a picnic or barbecue this Fourth of July, don’t bother breaking out your tiny roll-away cooler. This 54-by-28-inch inflatable trough holds enough bottles and cans to keep your party going well past sunset. Once the cooler has been drained and deflated, it folds neatly for easy storage.

Find it: Amazon

5. American Trivia Cards; $15

Even players who paid attention in American history class might find this game challenging. Each box comes with 150 cards of United States trivia. Some questions—like what was the first state to grant women the right to vote—highlight important moments in our nation’s history. Others—like how many columns the Lincoln Memorial features—are a little more random.

Find it: UncommonGoods

6. U.S. Navy Blanket; $200

The U.S. military has been going to Faribault Woolen Mill Co. for its blankets for over 100 years. This one is crafted from 100 percent wool and weighs 3.5 pounds. The design is inspired by the blankets supplied on Navy ships—and if it’s tough enough for the Navy, you can bet it will withstand a Fourth of July picnic. We like the gray version, but it comes in several different styles and colors.

Find it: Faribault Woolen Mill Co.

7. American Flag Cornhole; $90

Two American flag cornhole boards with bean bags.
GoSports, Amazon

Baseball faces some stiff competition from cornhole for the title of No. 1 American pastime. This lawn set includes four blue bean bags, four red bean bags, and two boards decorated to resemble the American flag.

Find it: Amazon

8. U.S. Map Cutting Board; $20

Wooden cutting board in the shape of the U.S. map.
Totally Bamboo, Amazon

This 100 percent bamboo board eschews the traditional rectangle shape in favor of the outline of the American mainland. You can either keep it in the kitchen and use it as a cutting board or bring it out to the party as a serving platter for fruits, cheeses, and other hors d'oeuvres.

Find it: Amazon

9. Boston Tea Party Tea Sampler; $15

Six piles of loose-leaf tea.
Solstice Tea Traders, Amazon

A sip of one of the teas in this sampler will put you in touch with your inner revolutionary. Each of the six loose-leaf varieties—bohea black tea, oolong, congou black tea, souchong, singlo, and hyson—was among those tossed over the sides of British ships during the Boston Party. Whether you drink the tea or chuck it into the nearest harbor is up to you. (If you're looking for something to put on display, UncommonGoods also sells a slightly pricier, more elegant option with five teas.)

Find it: Amazon

10. State Map Prints; $27 and Up

A poster featuring a colorful map of Wisconsin
Bri Buckley, Society6

These unique prints by Bri Buckley highlight the beauty of each U.S. state in vibrant color. Each state map is available in both a modern and a vintage style, and like most Society6 art, the design is also available on tapestries, shirts, pillows, tote bags, and more.

Find it: Society6

11. Bald Eagle Pool Float; $15

A man and a woman ride a bald eagle pool float
Swimline, Amazon

Cool down the patriotic way this Fourth of July. This massive 8-foot-by-6-foot bald eagle pool float can fit up to two people comfortably, and will look great floating around your pool during your backyard barbecue.

Find it: Amazon

A version of this article first ran in 2017. It has been updated for 2019.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Turn Your Phone Into an Instant Camera With KODAK's New Handheld Printer

KODAK
KODAK

Instant cameras are all the rage, but when you're already carrying a high-end camera everywhere you go in the form of your smartphone, the idea of carrying around an extra gadget might seem like more work than it's worth. You don't have to choose between the convenience of your phone's camera and the fun of having a tangible memento. KODAK's new SMILE digital printer combines all the fun of using filters and image editing on your phone with the delight of having a printed copy of your photo.

Blue, green, black, red, and white KODAK SMILE printers printing photos
The KODAK SMILE line of instant digital printers
KODAK

The handheld Bluetooth printer—which is roughly the same size as KODAK's SMILE instant digital camera—lets you edit photos on your phone, then print your image instantly on 2-inch-by-3-inch sticker paper. Using the KODAK SMILE app, you can add Instagram-esque filters; rotate images and change contrast, brightness, and other characteristics; and add stickers, text, doodles, and borders.

Most uniquely, you can add augmented reality elements to your photos, so that when you (or someone else with the KODAK SMILE app) point the app at the physical print, the image is replaced by a short video clip. The effect is something like the moving photographs in Harry Potter—you can surprise your friends by asking them to view a photo through the app's AR function, then watch their delight as the still image begins to move.

The KODAK SMILE app
KODAK

KODAK sent Mental Floss both the SMILE instant camera and the SMILE printer to test, and while there's a lot of fun in snapping photos on an instant camera and accepting whatever weird flaws that photo might have (though you can do some light editing on the SMILE camera before printing), in our opinion, the breadth of image-editing features and convenience of being able to print photos you've already taken on your smartphone makes the digital printer the better option if you're trying to choose between the two.

This is especially true if you're going on vacation or trying to capture a night out on camera; it's just easier to whip out your phone rather than break out another camera, and it's easier to edit photos on your phone than to manipulate photos on the SMILE instant camera's small screen.

Blue, black, green, white, and red KODAK SMILE instant-print cameras
The KODAK SMILE line of instant-print digital cameras
KODAK

The SMILE printer is available on Amazon and Walmart for $100 and comes in five different colors: white, black, blue, green, and red. The SMILE instant-print digital camera is also $100 on Amazon and Walmart and is available in the same colors.

While the camera and the printer both come with a starter pack of sticker-backed ZINK photo paper, you can get 50 refill sheets for $24 when you run out.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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