Alright, already on to my second KiwiCo experience. I ordered this box — Soap Dispenser — outside of my normal subscription, meaning I chose it from the KiwiCo store and paid for it separately. I chose this particular box as I knew I would actually use the finished product. It’s in use now in our hallway bathroom.
Let me start by mentioning I have a YouTube video for this post! It shows the box, contents, and build steps, and I included a mini review. I’ll do my best to not have much overlap between this post and the video. Let me know if you think I should do a video like this for my next box, or even livestream the project.
Revisiting My Previous Post
There are several points from my previous KiwiCo post that I want to revisit before I really dive into this one.
- The Crate and Parts. The box was still customized to the project, and the individual parts were well made. The booklet of information was fantastic again.
- The Project. Putting together the soap dispenser took about 1.5 hours, but that included taking video. So, it probably only took about an hour of actual work. Unfortunately, putting it together was still like following IKEA instructions. While I learned some interesting things from the booklet, I didn’t gain any useful skills I can apply to other projects.
As I mention in the video, despite the soap dispenser being listed for ages 14+ — note the plus!! — on the KiwiCo website, and the Eureka Crate being listed for “Ages 12-100”, it’s really for kids. I do have a sense of accomplishment from putting together something useful, which is nice, but I was really hoping to learn some tinkering skills.
- Issues. Thankfully, no parts were missing this time, and I didn’t have any issues with the final product.
Interesting Things in the Booklet
As I said I would in the video, I read through the informational sections of the booklet. And there were some interesting tidbits of information. FYI: all of the booklet images are linked, so click on them to see them larger. Also, you’ll have to excuse my handwritten notes. There’s a texture to the pages that only showed up once I scanned them, and it was a pain to edit them out, so I left them in.
Gray Circle: How much soap should you use to wash your hands? Research suggests that you need at least 0.7mL, or about half a tablespoon. But most commercial soap dispensers put out 0.4mL per pump, which only covers about half of most people’s hands. So next time you’re in a public bathroom, make sure you pump the dispenser twice!
Half a tablespoon is A LOT of soap. My Method soap bottle needs 8 pumps to feel a half tablespoon! I’m assuming the discrepancy in dispensing is down to companies wanting you to buy soap more often.
Red Circle: In the future, handwashing may not involve soap at all. Scientists recently invented a device that uses sound waves to make water bubbles vibrate and scrub even the tiniest cracks and crevices. During testing, the device was able to clean bacteria off of medical devices and other surfaces with nothing but plain old water.
To my fountain pen peeps, does this sound like an ultrasonic cleaner to you, too?
Plastic Construction: In my video, I question the material used for the pump. Turns out it’s ” a plastic called polypropylene foam. It’s air-puffed, kind of like marshmallows, but isn’t porous, so water can’t get inside it and grow mildew.”
Rotor Pump: It’s pretty cool that the rotor uses fidget spinner bearings. I’m assuming they chose the shape for it based on that? Or maybe, once they had the fidget-spinner-like shape, they decided to use actual fidget spinner bearings.
Peristalsis: I provide a very basic explanation of peristalsis in the video, but the booklet provides a longer — better — explanation: Peristalsis is a process that involves squeezing a tube to push the contents through. But it’s not just a single squeeze and you’re done. To keep the liquid moving, the squeeze needs to travel along the tube, pushing the liquid forward.
Think of a ketchup packet from a fast food restaurant. If you tear it open and pinch it just once, only a little bit of ketchup comes out. But, if you pinch at the closed end and slide your fingers toward the opening, that pushes all the ketchup out of the packet. That squeeze-and-slide action is peristalsis.
I’m thankful they included this definition, as a search for peristalsis online only yields results in relation to the human digestive system.
Hygiene Hacks: With this box, the “hacks” spread at the end of the booklet encourages the reader to find their own hygiene hacks, rather than just providing instructions for a second, simpler project. I like that kids are encouraged to keep exploring at a time when they’re likely feeling inspired.
And they aren’t just thrown to the wolves. KiwiCo provides a three-step design process: 1) think of problems, 2) pick a problem and brainstorm solutions 3) prototype the solution. They even include a mini case study and several problem & solution ideas for inspiration. Kiwico also suggests materials that may be needed.
Suggestions for Improvement
While I didn’t have actual problems with this box, I think there are some opportunities for improvement, both in the booklet and in the instructions for the build.
I understand that KiwiCo doesn’t have a ton of space for information in the booklet — I’m assuming they want to keep the informational sections short to focus on the main project. However, that doesn’t mean they should provide inaccurate information.
History of Hygiene: This spread completely ignores that microorganisms weren’t discovered until 1665, and bacteria weren’t discovered until 1676. Even with those discoveries, it wasn’t until the 1860’s that germ theory was proposed and humoral theory truly fell by the wayside. For a good portion of the past, people thought diseases spread through “miasmas” so contaminating items by touching them wasn’t a concern. This isn’t addressed, so it seems as though people of the past were purposely unhygienic.
Dirty Laundry: I realize that KiwiCo needed to provide a simple explanation here, but they didn’t portray this accurately. It was considered critical to keep undergarments (chemises, shirts, etc.) clean. The whiter the better. The poor usually changed those undergarments once a day, usually in the morning. The rich may change multiple times a day. No average person would let dirt accumulate on their clothes.
There were several places in the instructions — mostly toward the end of the build — where I felt they were needlessly complicated, usually due to a poor choice in order of the steps.
Part C, Step 8: Trying to wiggle the stupid foam pieces into their respective “slots” — for lack of a better word — was annoying! I’d get one in, only for it to pop out while I was working on another. If steps 5, 7, and 8 had happened before step 4 — putting the nozzle section on — it likely would have been much easier.
Part D, Step 1: It would have been much easier to apply the foam stickers before the tube was in the way.
Part D, Steps 8 & 9: While the instructions tell you to turn the rotor counter-clockwise, it would have been nice to have a warning to not turn it clockwise. That’s what kept screwing me up.
Part D, Step 13 & Part E, Step 5: The instructions specifically say to have the foam facing out. However, it’s easier to wiggle the parts into place if you have the foam facing in. And it’s more aesthetically pleasing.
Part E, Step 3: After putting the back on in Part D, Step 13 (see left image in the preceding gallery), only a short length of wire remained visible. Had this step been completed before Part D, Step 13, the available wire would have been longer, and the connections would have been made easier.
Part E, Steps 6-8: Obviously, you can’t cover the rotor until you’ve connected the wiring and ensured everything works. But, with the order KiwiCo chose, you’re left with some maneuverability issues in relation to the main bolts. The instructions even read, “If it’s tough to reach the bolts, pull off the back panels until you can (then put them back).” Why not connect the wiring earlier? Then it would be much easier to reach the bolts and connect the wiring.
Despite my nitpicking, my experience with this crate was more positive than my experience with the previous one. I’m curious to see how my next subscription crate experience goes. I already know which crate I’m getting — there’s a spoiler in the shipping email — and I’m not very hopeful for an excellent experience. The likelihood I’ll actually use it is pretty low. But, I still have two more crates I want to buy from their store. Maybe one of those will be everything I’ve hoped for from KiwiCo.
Thanks for reading to the end, I hope you enjoyed my post. What do you think about this crate/project versus the previous one? Should I do a video for the next crate, too? Are you interested in a KiwiCo subscription? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.