The evolution of cleaning products: How far have they come?
Like any other industry, the cleaning sector is constantly evolving. Since we first started carrying out commercial cleaning in London over 50 years ago, technology has come on leaps and bounds – not just in terms of the machines we use but the chemicals themselves.
We may take modern cleaning products for granted, but the reality is that they’re highly advanced concoctions that have been developed over many hundreds of years. Thousands, in fact. The earliest known records of cleaning practices date back 4,500 years, when early forms of soap were used by Babylonians to wash clay tablets. Thought to be made of materials like clay, vegetable oils, lard and even ashes, those all-natural soaps aren’t likely to have been all that effective!
Nevertheless, the seed had been sown: the development of cleaning ‘products’ had begun, and continued apace throughout ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman times. Later Roman soaps were far more advanced than those discovered by Babylonians – but when the Roman empire fell, all that progress was lost.
Rediscovering the benefits of cleaning
After the advancements made by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans were forgotten, so too were the benefits of keeping clean. Numerous plagues later – most notably the dreaded ‘Black Death’ – and finally cleanliness came back into focus once again. Now well aware of the dangers of poor hygiene, companies across Europe began manufacturing and selling soap bars for the first time.
At the very end of the 1800s, the first liquid soaps came onto the market. Manufactured using palm and olive oil, the revolutionary product was coined ‘Palmolive.’ Sound familiar?
Now that personal hygiene was somewhat under control, B.J. Johnson (the creator of Palmolive) turned his attention to households and businesses. The resulting formulation was called Pine-Sol, and effectively laid the foundations for all the household and commercial cleaning products we use so readily today.
As the popularity and availability of cleaning chemicals grew, so too did the demand for cleaning. Today, commercial cleaning is an enormous industry that continues to prosper. Who’d have thought its roots could be traced back to ancient concoctions of clay, lard and oil?