Orca Communications Client Spotlight: The UnWipe

August 15, 2023 | Amanda Green

The Unwipe

The UnWipe is the world’s newest sustainable, butt-cleaning solution that leaves nothing behind (except for a smile!) The UnWipe device instantly upgrades your own toilet paper. It does this by creating a rich texture on the surface of your TP; all while adding the perfect amount of moisture required for proper cleaning!  Soaking or spraying TP makes it soggy. The genius engineering “behind” The UnWipe has created a surprisingly stronger paper thanks to being pressed into a super-soft, mesh, hypoallergenic silicone layer that adds ribbing. This brilliant combination of texture, joined together with water transforms regular toilet paper into something that cleans all your parts completely no “butts” about it!  

Best part? It is good for the environment, too! But don’t take it from us! Jim Kaslik is the creator of The UnWipe and he’s this month’s Client Spotlight. Jim tells us in his own words why he created this unique product to transform your bathroom experience: 

What was your ‘ah ha!’ moment for creating The UnWipe? And when did you know you would turn your invention into a company? 

I was rooting through a bathroom cabinet in my home and found an old, dusty, dried-out bag of flushable wipes. That same week a family friend who’s a civil engineer designing water systems linked an article documenting the terrible and expensive harm done by so-called “flushable” wipes, and concluding that no wipes should ever be flushed because they do not break down like toilet paper does.

I put the bag of wipes on the counter and thought about it every time … well, every time. I knew a bidet was an alternative to “flushable” wipes, but once owned a real fancy one that went unused by everyone in the family for several reasons (cold water is unpleasant, still need toilet paper or towels (that then need laundering), awkward positioning, etc). People are still choosing wipes by 2.5 to 1 even though bidets have been around forever, so something was missing there.

I knew that a proper solution had to help people everywhere because they don’t just use a bathroom at home. I looked to toilet paper as an ideal basis for a solution because it is present in practically all bathrooms private and public, and because septic and sewer systems are designed specifically for toilet paper (and not for wipes). That led to dozens of experiments on how to make it work – just getting paper wet doesn’t work, because the paper starts to fall apart at the exact worst time.

There were two keys discovered through experimentation. One was that it takes just a touch of water, less than 1 tsp, to clean effectively. The second was that firm, big texture cleaned better than flat and smooth paper, and we could achieve the texture by compressing paper into a specially sized mesh.

That led to in-house 3D design to find ideal shapes, working with local firms to 3D print prototypes, and years of testing of methods and materials.

So the inspiration was like a lightbulb, but the ‘when did you know’ evolved over about five years until we had a prototype we knew was more effective than anything on the market.

How big of a problem does the bathroom industry have when it comes to being earth-friendly and sustainable? How does The UnWipe factor into fixing that problem? 

100,000,000,000 wipes are flushed annually. Because they don’t decompose like toilet paper, no matter how they are labeled, they have to be dug out of septic, sewers, and wastewater treatment plants and hauled off to landfills as litter. They cause $1,000,000,000 in damage to plumbing and sewer systems annually. They are the largest single source of plumbing clogs. When they clog sewers (look up “fatberg”), untreated sewage overflows pipes and drains into waterways. So yeah, flushed wipes are kinda harmful.

By the way, how can they be labeled “flushable”? It’s because there are few rules governing them, though that’s finally starting to change. Being able to be flushed is not the same as being safe for septic and sewers. More specifically, engineers have determined how small decomposed items must be to be safe in sewers, and industry groups have callously ignored that and instead written their own standard that allows items to be many times larger than that size, so the labeling is self-serving.

The UnWipe is a total replacement for ‘flushable’ wipes. If you use The UnWipe, you will never flush a wipe. And because The UnWipe uses just clean water and toilet paper, it can stop the flushing of all 100,000,000,000 wipes and the plumbing and environmental damage they cause.

Thinking back to your early prototypes, what were the biggest hurdles you had to jump through when creating a product for poo? 

From prior experience, we’re familiar with the iterative nature of design … ideate, prototype, test, evaluate … repeat ad nauseam. There were no major hurdles, especially since 3D modeling and prototyping has advanced so far in the last decade or two. There are more materials available than ever and the modeling precision is better than ever, so the limits are more on one’s imagination to re-conceptualize the problem being addressed.

The actual product context had no bearing. It is just a product solving a societal problem, and it relating to personal hygiene is almost beside the point. [In fact, this email mentions “poo” more times than our website does 😂]

A different challenge has been a bigger hurdle for us. We’re tweaking a lifetime habit for people, using toilet paper in a way that people didn’t know was possible until we did it. [Three filed patent applications address this.] Changing habits is hard. We spend more time educating people that it really is possible to transform toilet paper in this way – they’re skeptical by nature – then talking features/benefits/value-to-consumers. People don’t inherently understand that their own tp can be enhanced, so we have to both show them that it can be and that The UnWipe does that before addressing other ’normal’ aspects like our environmental and cost advantages.

Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs who have a product that some may feel is a little taboo to talk about? 

15 years ago, or maybe 5 years ago, this was more taboo. But now people easily mention “Squatty Potty” and “Poo-Pourri” in conversation, Charmin’s red bears talk about toilet paper on TV, and another product repeats “women poop”. Heck, even the pandemic brought about (too many) discussions of toilet paper. “Taboo” is a moving target, so aside from our being considerate of people’s feelings regarding certain still-taboo words, there have been no consumer issues with discussing the product in a considerate way.

Now for a question that I ask all of our clients: Name one thing you like about working with Orca Communications. 

I trust Lacy implicitly, and her communication style reinforces that. I’ve worked with other marketing agencies and professionals before, and too often I felt the need to hover because they either didn’t seem to fully grasp the messaging or seemed to not implement programs that aligned with the messaging. Lacy has grokked the message and implemented Orca’s time-tested strategy, and my hovering would only hurt the process, so I’m happy to play my role and trust her to know how to get results. My job is just to be responsive when she asks for something, and it’s been a relief for me to let her lead the process.

Are there any new products or projects you’re working on right now that you’d like to share? 

What … expanding channels, implementing new advertising programs, and managing a disruptive product isn’t enough? [wink, wink]