The household cleaning aisle at the store features dozens of spray cleaners for different surfaces, and the ingredient lists are a mile long with chemical names that are impossible to pronounce. While many of those cleaners are effective for getting rid of dirt and germs, some of the chemicals inside are environmental hazards. Then, there are the plastic bottles, which get thrown into the trash once they are empty, adding to the plastic pollution problem. As the marketplace shifts to products with more sustainable packaging and more eco-friendly ingredients, a new company, Truman’s, is attempting to change the game in the household cleaner industry.

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Truman’s is trying to “upend the nearly $10 billion spray cleaner market” with its new direct-to-consumer subscription website that features four non-toxic cleaners shipped to customers’ doors in special bottles that they refill when the bottles are empty.

pile of green cartridges filled with cleaner concentrate

“Cleaning is cluttered”

Truman’s entered the cleaning market after discovering 57 different cleaners on local store shelves, with 43 different scents and 15 unique surface cleaners. The company founders became “obsessed with reducing waste and clutter” and wanted to find a way to reduce the number of cleaning products filled with harsh chemicals that are filling cabinets in homes across the country.

Related: How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners

The plastic problem

Plastic production went bonkers in the 1950s, with Life magazine praising an American future that would feature “throwaway living.” Since then, according to Truman’s website, the “planet has accumulated 9.2 billion tons of plastic,” which breaks down to “1.3 tons for every man, woman and child on Earth.”

Globally, less than one-fifth of all plastic gets recycled, and in the United States, the number is less than 10 percent. Single-use plastic bottles are a major factor in the plastic problem.

According to a recently published University of California study, in the past 13 years, the world has produced more plastic than it did in the previous 50. Research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation says that by 2050, “the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish.”

Truman’s says that if just 5 percent of Americans would opt for its delivery service instead of buying cleaning products at the store, it would save 4 billion pounds of water from being shipped in single-use, plastic-bottled cleaning products, and it would reduce the amount of plastic used by 300 million pounds.

person mixing colorful cleaning solutions

How does it work?

Truman’s offers four spray cleaners: The Glass Is Always Cleaner, Everything and the Kitchen Sink, Floors Truly and More Shower To You.

When they join Truman’s, customers receive a starter kit that they can use for 30 days, risk-free. After that first month, Truman’s will then ship refill cartridges, and the automatic shipments continue every six months. However, customers can order extras if needed, or the service can be paused or canceled.

The refill cartridges work when mixed with water, and the bottles can be continuously reused. This allows customers to save space under the kitchen sink. Plus it’s significantly cheaper, because the refills are $3.75 while the bottles and shipping are always free.

Truman’s always ships refills four at a time per cleaner, which is $15. They also ship all four cleaners, which means every six months, customers are charged $60. However, there is the option to remove certain cleaners from the subscription.

This method reduces plastic waste by more than 90 percent, according to Truman’s website, and the bottles are also recyclable.

two men in plaid shirts standing in a factory

The men behind Truman’s

Jon Bostock and Alex Reed had years of experience working with companies like General Electric and Big Ass Fans. But when Big Ass Fans was sold for $500 million in late 2017, Bostock and Reed looked for something new to focus their efforts on.

“Alex and I are both neat-freaks, and we knew the home cleaning industry needed real change,” Bostock said. “It’s dominated by a few global companies that add new cleaners you don’t need just to pad profits. Then they compete for shelf space at stores, which all get their share of the price.”

Related: Scientists discover hazardous chemicals accumulate in household dust

The duo felt that it was time for the cleaning industry to change, so they created a company that delivers easy-to-use cleaning products directly to the consumer.

Bostock and Reed knew that large businesses already use concentrated refills to fill the same bottles over and over again, and they believe that if that model works for businesses, it could work for everyone else.

They never planned to put their product on store shelves, because that would just add to the problem. Truman’s opted to avoid the shelf rental fees and sell directly to customers to keep costs low and get constant feedback from customers via the website.

Truman’s definitely gives customers an eco-friendly cleaning option that can significantly reduce plastic waste. But just remember to ditch disposable paper towels and use reusable cleaning cloths and old T-shirts when using these cleaners.

+ Truman’s

Images via Truman’s