The Washday Miracle: Interesting Facts About Tide Detergent

A Determined Scientist

Tide, which is also called Ace or Vizir, was created in 1946. However, that is not where the story starts. In the 1930s a scientist named David Byerly worked for Procter and Gamble and was trying to develop the best working synthetic heavy duty detergent ever produced.

A Determined Scientist

The reason he wanted to do this is because all of the detergents and various soaps on the market were either natural cleaners or very weak synthetic products. This means nothing really got a good clean. Yuck. Byerly worked for seven years, and then management cancelled the project. The Project was nicknamed “Project X”. He continued to work in his spare time, determined to finish his creation.

The Creation of Tide

Finally, after seven more years he finished a prototype to be tested and it was called “Tide.” David Byerly was also the holder of the Tide patent. Tide launched the product in 1946 and it was marketed as “The Washday Miracle”.

The Creation of Tide

Tide quickly dwarfed sales of other leading detergents on the market at the time such as Ivory Snow. Tide was the only “heavy duty “detergent available, others at this point were softer detergents with less of a strong clean. Tide has since maintained its lead as one of the top detergents in the world. And the rest is history!

A Candlemaker & A Soapmaker Get Together

Procter and Gamble, or P&G, as they are commonly referred to, is one of the most well-known consumer goods companies in the world. The company was founded by William Procter and James Gamble, a candlemaker and a soapmaker, respectively. There’s a nursery rhyme in their somewhere!

A Candlemaker & A Soapmaker Get Together

They both immigrated to the United States from England and Ireland, and married two sisters. Their father-in-law suggested they work together so they became business partners and thus Procter and Gamble was born way back in 1837. They have had contracts with the government since back in Civil War times, which is kind of insane to think about.

Amazingly Successful Family Business

Procter and Gamble worked together and life and even in death they remain together, as they are both buried in the same cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio. They have now grown to an international company and have acquired many other companies under the P&G name like Gillette, Duracell, and Braun.

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In 2014, the company decided to drop one hundred of the companies it had acquired over the years and instead focus on the remaining sixty-five. William and James would surely be astounded by their own companies’ amazing successes. Many of their sons and grandsons have continued to work in the family business until today.

Synthetic Detergents: Kind of a Big Deal

Synthetic detergents are considered to be the first major change in soap making in over two millennia. Pre-synthetic detergents, natural soaps derived from fats and oils were the gold standard. Tide is considered to be the first ever heavy-duty synthetic detergent which means it was made up of chemicals as opposed to those fats and oils.

Synthetic Detergents: Kind of a Big Deal

This was groundbreaking for the soap and cleaner industry. Tide overtook the entire industry and soon became the standard for detergents throughout the United States with many other companies following suit with their own kind of synthetic detergents. Especially Lever and Colgate, who Procter and Gamble were in direct competition with.

A Historic Landmark

Procter and Gamble had to end up building entirely new factories because making the synthetic detergent into a granule took an entirely different process that with natural soaps. In 2006, The American Chemical Society designated Procter & Gamble Headquarters in Cincinnati Ohio as a National Historic Chemical Landmark for the development of Tide.

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Although Tide was the first heavy duty synthetic detergent, it wasn’t the first synthetic detergent that Procter & Gamble produced. They first introduced Dreft in 1933 a synthetic detergent made from an alkyl sulfate. Dreft was able to clean clothes in hard water without soap scum residue but it wasn’t strong enough to clean heavily soiled clothes.

From Baby Soap to Heavy Duty Detergent

Dreft still exists today and is marketed as a detergent for baby clothes. Tide was created when David Byerly and fellow chemists added sodium tripolyphosphate, to the surfactant (which is the cleaning formula). They realized that the formula must have three parts sodium tripolyphosphate to one part detergent, in order to be an effective cleaner.

From Baby Soap to Heavy Duty Detergent

The hard work of David Byerly led to the creation of Tide and its debut in 1946. Luckily, for Procter & Gamble another invention was also being marketed and that was the automatic washing machine. These two inventions combined changed the face of laundry forever!

Washing Machines and Tide

The first domestic automatic washer was invented in 1937, and it was very similar in concept and appearance to modern washers. The only difference we would notice is that they had to be anchored to the floor so they didn’t move around so much, as the machine had no drum suspension.

Washing Machines and Tide

By the 1950s, top-loading washing machines became affordable for most homes in the United States. Finally people were able to achieve a better wash than they would while washing massive amounts of clothes by hand. Because Tide was the premier and most popular detergent of the time, they co-marketed with washing machine companies.

The Washers of Today and Yesteryear

Every time a washing machine was purchased, a box of Tide came packed inside which gave the new owner a totally new experience of how to wash clothes. An interesting fact about washers is that during World War II, production was actually ceased in order to produce war material such as uniforms, weaponry, and anything else soldiers might need.

The Washers of Today and Yesteryear

Originally, washers could only be afforded by those in the upper middle class and the wealthy because they were very expensive to produce and thus very expensive to buy. However, nowadays many people own a washer and they are much more economical to purchase.

Tide Over the Years

In 1968 Tide introduced the Tide XK brand, this detergent was specifically marketed to remove tough stains like blood. Yikes! How often do you get blood on your clothes?! Wait, scratch that thought, women go through this monthly. Tide XK was the first detergent to include enzymes in its formula.

Tide Over the Years

The next Tide introduced was Liquid Tide, in 1984. This was considered to be a huge innovation in the laundry world. Liquid tide was a more effective cleaner and touted making the laundry process easier. It also had twice the number of ingredients as other liquid detergents. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?!

Tide Innovations

Tide also introduced a self-draining cap so detergent didn’t drip all over the place when you were attempting to wash your clothes. In 1988, Tide introduced Tide With Bleach, which was the first detergent created to contain bleach but also be safe for colors!

Tide Innovations

This basically ensured that when you wash your clothes you could get the same kind of stain removal you did with your white loads of laundry but you won’t accidentally bleach your favorite red shirt. Tide kept working on their formulas introducing Ultra Liquid Tide in 1992. This detergent purported to be more concentrated than regular liquid.

Tide In The Modern Day

This concentrated liquid gave customers a better clean and more bang for their buck, while cutting down on packaging costs. Sounds like a win-win situation! In 2005, Tide introduced Tide Cold Water which was designed to give a super powerful clean but without using heat, and thus saving money for the customers.

Tide In The Modern Day

In 2005, came the famous pen that everyone knows in this day in age, the Tide to Go Pen, which is a stain releaser, so you can dab at your shirt when you drip ketchup on yourself in the middle of the day at work or in any other situation.

Charitable Tide

In the same year Tide also introduced “Loads of Hope” a campaign to benefit the horrible natural disaster Hurricane Katrina. They provided families in the affected area with a mobile laundromat to wash, dry, and even fold their clothes. They have washed over 60,000 loads since the campaign’s inception! Wow! Lastly, the most recent Tide innovation is the Tide Pods.

Charitable Tide

Tide Pods were launched in 2012, all you have to is throw into the laundry, you don’t have to worry about how much detergent to use. And the detergent still claims to offer deep cleans, stain-fighting power, and to brighten your whites!

Tide Pods Dangerous?

Tide Pods have not come without controversy, however. Since their introduction multiple children have faced life threatening poisoning for ingesting the pods, which are brightly colored not unlike different candy items on the market. Critics claim because the pods include concentrated ingredients they are more dangerous than other detergents.

Tide Pods Dangerous?

Of course you should always keep detergents and other cleaners out of the reach of your kids, but you might think twice about buying this particular product because accidents can always happen! Because of several well-documented incidents manufacturers now include child safety closures, made the pods themselves stronger, and even coated them in a gross tasting chemical to deter children from ingesting them!

Old Timey Radio Shows

In the 1920s and 1930s, when radio was the most popular form of entertainment, Procter & Gamble’s company sponsored multiple different programs. Their sponsorship is what lead to these dramatic stories to be called “soap operas”, which clearly stuck until today!

Old Timey Radio Shows

The commonality between these old timey soap operas and today’s soap operas, besides the fact that the past was on radio and now they are on film, is that they are all serial stories. The first ever of these radio shows considered to be a soap opera, was a serial called Painted Dreams, which started in 1930 on a Chicago radio station.

Original Soap Operas

These first soap operas were broadcast in weekday time slots, five days a week. This was to reach the target audience of women who were at home. Most of the listeners during this time would be housewives, which is why companies like Tide advertised through commercials.

Original Soap Operas

The women at home would be the ones doing everyone’s laundry so it only made sense to appeal to this audience. The “opera” part of soap opera of course comes from the melodramatic tonality of the shows, which obviously still carries over today. Ultimately, these old radio shows were broadcast nationwide, with the first being Clara, Lu, and Em starting in 1931.

Marketing To Housewives

One famous soap opera, Guiding Light, was even originally a radio show, getting its start in 1937 and continuing on until 2009. Wow, how’s that for a run! Today, soap companies, along with an array of other products, still market during the day when soap operas are being broadcast across the United States.

Marketing To Housewives

Nowadays soap companies have a larger target market. They still want housewives’ business of course but also want to reach whoever else is at home. These days the internet has made it possible for many people of all backgrounds and genders to work from home and thus be subject to any kind of TV marketing shown on air.

Those Nasty Phosphates

Back in the 1950s and the 1960s detergent companies consistently tried to one-up each other by advertising that their product actually produces more suds. Mr. Bubbles, anyone? However, probably unbeknownst at the time (well, maybe not to the scientists who created the soap) the increase in suds was indicative of more phosphates in the formula and thus created more polluted drainage.

Those Nasty Phosphates

Phosphates are bad for the environment because they cause a bad kind of algae to grow that smothers other plants and animals in the water. Yikes! Washing machines were redesigned in order to use less water thereby creating a chemical mix with less phosphates to rinse into the groundwater.

Tide Dangerous For The Environment?!

As recent as 2012, however, Tide detergent has been found to include high levels of 1,4-Dioxane which has been identified as a carcinogenic contaminant. A Procter & Gamble toxologist claims the amounts actually found in the formula is too small to pose any actual threat.

Tide Dangerous For The Environment?!

However, other environmental organizations claim that it is not known how much of the chemical is needed to actually cause cancer in someone or even pose a threat. Tide does meet the threshold for 1,4-Dioxane as set by the EPA. This probably explains why a lot of people have decided to go with organic laundry detergents. Including, celebrity Jessica Alba who actually formed a company around the idea.

Tide’s Black Market Phenomenon

For those of you are not accustomed to what’s selling on the black market, courtesy of shoplifters, here is an interesting story. (Don’t worry, me either). In some areas of the United States Tide liquid detergent has become quite the lucrative commodity on the black market, and is sold from anywhere from $5 to $10 a jug.

Tide’s Black Market Phenomenon

Shoplifters and police refer to it as “liquid gold”, because apparently it’s sometimes used a currency. What?! Who know cleanliness was so important for thieves! One report even recorded a man in Minnesota making upwards of $25,000 off selling tide over 15 months, until of course he was caught. Some retailers have had to enact various security measures to try to prevent the theft of Tide.