10 game-changing cleaning products
Did you know that the first dishwasher was invented by a woman? Working in the woodshed behind her Illinois home, socialite Josephine Cochrane developed and patented the design of the first commercially successful dishwashing machine in 1886. Though other similar devices existed at the time, Cochrane's model proved superior with its wire compartments constructed to fit plates, cups, and saucers, and copper wash boiler to distribute hot water and soap.
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The "Cochrane Dishwasher" debuted at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 to great fanfare. Originally only popular with restaurants and hotels due to incredible cost, the dishwasher later caught on in American households and became the iconic KitchenAid dishwasher.
Tide laundry detergent
Believe it or not, there once was a time when laundry had to be done with soap. Convenient, yes, but not so great for getting clothes clean! Specifically, it's tough to get soap to dissolve, especially in cold water, and it left a residue behind on clothes and in washing machines that built up over time. Household detergents first hit the scene in the 1930s, but didn't really catch on until after World War II.
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Tide, which was invented in 1943 and rolled out to test markets in 1946, was formulated to penetrate clothes more deeply and fight tough stains. Tide also debuted the now ubiquitous no-drip cap in 1984, ensuring that liquid detergent drained back into the bottle instead of running down the side. Other milestones include the addition of color-safe bleach in 1988, and the introduction of Tide to Go! and Tide Coldwater in 2005.
Pledge furniture polish
Gone are the days when cleaning the dining room table or bookshelves meant applying messy paste or liquid wax, waiting for it to dry, and buffing until the wood shone. For more than 50 years, Pledge has been making wood care as simple as spraying and wiping.
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The first aerosol furniture polish, this formula promises to dust, clean, moisturize, and protect furniture quickly and easily. We may take this easy cleaning for granted now, but Pledge cut hours — and lots of work — out of getting your living room company-ready.
The current household cleaner market is all about quick cleaning, but that concept is relatively new. It's not long ago that cleaning the floors in your home was a time-consuming task. Introduced in 1999, the Swiffer Sweeper took the hard labor out of cleaning floors and helped introduce American households to the concept of maintenance cleaning for quick spruce-ups you can do in a few minutes.
Since then, the Swiffer line has expanded to incorporate vacuuming with the Swiffer SweeperVac, mopping with the Swiffer WetJet, dusting with the Swiffer Duster, and more.
Caldrea household cleaners
Today, it's no secret that cleaning products can smell pleasant too — but this wasn't always the case. When Caldrea launched in 1999, it introduced the concept of "Aromatherapeutic Homekeeping" and changed the scent of cleaning products forever.
Originally debuting with three pampering essential oil scents — lavender pine, citrus mint ylang ylang, and green tea patchouli — Caldrea's line of cleaners has expanded to encompass upwards of 10 fragrances and everything from laundry detergent to all-purpose cleaners to stainless steel spray.
High efficiency washing machines
Certainly, the washing machine made a huge impact on cleaning when it was invented in the 19th century, but here in the U.S., washers were pretty much designed the same way for decades until the need for efficiency turned laundry on its side. European households have been using front-loading machines for some time now, but they've only become popular in the American market when high efficiency became the mandate. And, when it came to conserving energy and water, appliance makers were one step ahead of public policy with the debut of high efficiency washing machines in the early 2000's.
Now you'll be hard-pressed to find a machine that isn't labeled HE.
Easy and effective single-dose tablets have been the holy grail of laundry and dish cleaners for as long as companies have been making cleaning products, but no one managed to get it right until the modern era of dishwashing detergent tablets.
These quick-dissolving film packets release cleaner quickly on contact with water, but still manage to stay stable to the touch outside the machine. Now single-dose dishwashing tablets are the norm and laundry detergent pacs are gaining steam as well.
House-cleaning robots no longer seem like a far-fetched concept from the Jetsons, and that's largely thanks to one manufacturer: iRobot. Originally founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology robotocists to design products for national defense and public safety, iRobot expanded into the home robot market in 2002 with the Roomba floor vacuuming device.
With an expanded line of 'bots, and a whole host of imitators, iRobot has managed to make the concept of having a home robot shockingly mainstream.
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
Whether it's getting dirt marks off walls or scuffs off doorjambs, there's one tool you can reach for to do it all. Introduced in 2003, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser made it easy to literally "erase" stains from walls and other surfaces.
With a handy abrasive surface for scrubbing (Just add water!), this convenient cleaner quickly became a household favorite.
Microfibers are just that — thin filaments of polyester and nylon — but they pack a big punch when it comes to cleaning. With an increased surface area, they're super absorbent and can pick up and hold onto more dirt, grease, and spills than traditional cotton cloths can. They also clean with little or no cleaning product, plus they're washable and reusable.
Originally replacing T-shirts and rags for cleaning, microfiber has now pervaded the cleaning cloth category, working its way onto mops, dusters, and more.