Cash in trash for Tidy’s Beautiful Bins and Eco-Wash Solutions Northwest
Pair of young businesses launched offering garbage can cleaningsOctober 25th, 2018
Two newly formed Inland Northwest businesses, Tidy’s Beautiful Bins LLC and Eco-Wash Solutions Northwest, are looking to help homeowners with one of life’s least glamourous tasks—taking out the trash.
“It always comes back to the fact that smelly cans are gross, and people don’t know what to do about them,” says Richard Denenny, co-owner of Tidy’s Beautiful Bins LLC.
Denenny is the president and CFO of Lee & Hayes PLLC, a Spokane-based law firm that specializes in intellectual property. He says he and childhood friend Eric Tick co-founded Tidy’s earlier this year, after realizing they couldn’t find any garbage can-cleaning services in the Pacific Northwest.
“This is an idea that originated in the United Kingdom; it’s gotten pretty big over there,” he says. “We found probably 12 companies in the U.S. that offer this service, but none nearby, so we decided to give it a go.”
Years ago, Denenny says, homeowners had smaller bins that could be lined with a bag, but these days garbage, recycling, and yard waste bins are larger receptacles issued by the city.
“These bins are too large for liners and difficult to clean on your own,” he says. “After a while they get dirty and start to collect odors.”
He says Tidy’s works by bringing a truck equipped with a power washing system to client’s homes on garbage day and washing their waste containers just after they’ve been emptied by the city’s garbage service.
“We’re out there five days a week, following a similar schedule to regular garbage collection,” he says. “We coordinate with customers, so they know we’re coming and don’t move their cans back in.”
The trucks work by lifting the cans up using hydraulic arms and power-washing their insides with 200-degree water. The dirty water is then collected in a trough at the back of the truck and passed into interior tanks, where it’s filtered seven times before it’s ready for disposal.
“Our process sanitizes the cans without using any chemicals, and none of the dirty water is being dumped,” he says. “We have a relationship with a local car wash that allows us to dispose of our water properly.”
Denenny says Tidy’s systems can clean filthy trash cans in an average of 30 seconds and can wash less dirty cans in an average of seven seconds and with less than one gallon of water.
“We can clean cans quickly, but we usually prefer to spend between three and five minutes per can to ensure it’s done properly,” he says. “A first cleaning on a really dirty bin can take up to 10 minutes, but subsequent washings get easier.”
Denenny says Tidy’s has two trucks; one that serves an area just east of Seattle, including Bellevue, Sammamish, Issaquah, and Snoqualmie, and another that serves the neighborhoods in Spokane, Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, and Cheney.
Denenny says Tidy’s purchased its first truck and started operating in the Seattle area in March, then added a second truck to serve the Spokane area in April.
He says the Spokane truck was built from the ground up by another of his companies, Ultrashred Sales & Services LLC, which uses similar components to manufacture trucks and other equipment for the document shredding industry.
Denenny says most of the work Tidy’s does is residential, although it does also offer some commercial services like pressure washing equipment, sidewalks, and driveways.
Tidy’s offers cleaning packages that include one-time, monthly, bi-monthly (once every two months), quarterly, and full season cleaning. Customers can choose to cancel the service at any time.
“Customers can choose if they’d like one or all three cans cleaned, or a rotation of each,” he says. “We’re planning to shut down from December through February as it’s harder to power wash in the colder months.”
Once monthly cleaning services start at $10, while a full-season package of nine monthly cleanings is around $80.
Denenny says most customers choose to have their cans cleaned once a month.
Denenny estimates the company has about 175 customers in the Spokane area now, with 20 to 40 new customers joining each month.
He says Tidy’s gets most of its customers through word-of-mouth advertising and referrals, and has had most of its success with customers in the Spokane area.
“We initially thought the Seattle market would be more robust, but we’ve actually gotten more traction with customers here,” he says. Denenny says the company hopes to finish the year with 200 Spokane customers, with the goal of doubling that number next year. He says the business is growing, though it’s not yet profitable.
“We do expect this will become a profitable business, but it will take some time to develop,” he says. “But we’d like to add trucks to the fleet and scale according to demand.”
While Tidy’s has been in operation for several months, a similar business called Eco-Wash Solutions Northwest LLC opened a bit more recently in nearby North Idaho.
Eco-Wash is a Coeur d’Alene-based can cleaning service that Craig Austin and his wife, Ashley, started in August.
Craig Austin says Eco-Wash has one truck, which he purchased from a Phoenix-based manufacturer.
The truck, which is operated by Austin’s son-in-law and the company’s sole employee, Devon Peters, serves customers in Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Hayden, and other rural areas of North Idaho.
Austin says Eco-Wash uses a similar system to Tidy’s, with a truck that’s equipped with power washing equipment and a filtration system that collects dirty water for later disposal at local sanitation stations.
“We come along after the cans have been emptied and wash the cans using high pressure water,” he says. “It takes less than a minute in most cases.”
Austin says Eco-Wash plans to operate year-round, stopping only for stretches of extreme cold weather. He says prices vary by package but range from $15 for three washings, on up to $48 for twelve washings.
Like Tidy’s, Austin says Eco-Wash also attracts most customers through word-of-mouth advertising and referrals.
Although the business has only been operating for about two months, Austin says it’s off to a good start, adding about a dozen new customers every month.
Despite Eco-Wash’s promising beginnings, Austin says the company unexpectedly found itself embroiled in lawsuit last month with Coeur d’Alene Garbage, the company that provides garbage and recycling services for the cities of Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls.
In the lawsuit, Coeur d’Alene Garbage claims it has prohibited Eco-Wash from handling any of the trash and recycle receptacles it owns.
“Homeowners don’t own the cans, but they’re responsible for keeping cans in good shape, and many municipalities offer suggestions on their websites from waste providers on how to clean them,” says Austin. “However, those suggestions are usually not as effective or eco-friendly as our process.”
Austin says Eco-Wash was surprised by the lawsuit, as Eco-Wash has previously had positive feedback from other garbage-service providers, some of which have even hired the company.
“We’re letting our lawyers work on it, and we’re confident all parties will come to a resolution in the coming months,” he says.
Meanwhile, Austin says the company continues to offer its cleaning services to customers in Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls.
Interestingly, Austin says news of the lawsuit against Eco-Wash reached Denenny at Tidy’s, and he decided to introduce himself and offer his support as a fellow business owner in the industry.
“It’s kind of funny that we’ve developed this friendly relationship with Tidy’s, because our businesses would normally be considered competitors,” he says.
Denenny says he too was surprised by the lawsuit against Eco-Wash.
“It’s a bit perplexing to us, because at Tidy’s, we’ve always had good relationships with the cities we work with and their waste management departments,” he says.
Austin says Eco-Wash is excited for the coming year and plans to add additional trucks and eventually expand to include other aspects of pressure washing.
“We expect to see some tremendous growth as we continue to garner more happy customers,” he says.