The Recent History of Cleaning

Cleaning has advanced to a £50+ billion industry, with thousands of products for all sorts of weird and wonderful jobs now available. Sometimes, simple is still best, with products like our very own Sph2onge Microfibre Cloth still one of the most vital weapons in your fight against dirt. But, cleaning hasn’t always been this advanced, obviously. Many people know just how dirty and horrible middle aged England was for example, but what about jumps and progress made within the last 100 years?

Well, the earliest cleaning product was plain water, as you might have imagined. Modern soap products and the start of competing companies developing products that fought dirt (or may not have) was a much more recent development however, beginning in the mid 1900s.

From the very beginnings of washing off dirt and mud after a days work to the start of the Middle Ages, most cleaning compounds were made from mixes of ashes, animal or plant fats, and excess oils. The fall of the incredibly advanced, and hygienic for the time, Roman Empire prior to the Middle Ages led to reduced cleanliness and catastrophic diseases across the UK and Europe. By the 17th Century, bathing and cleanliness experienced a renewal, almost out of force due to the horrific spread of disease and death that had swept the land.

Over the past fifty years, soaps and detergents expanded to include household essentials such as automatic dishwasher products, liquid soaps, laundry fabric softener, cold water detergents, and most recently super-concentrated detergents and all sorts of weird and wonderful gels and refills and powders.

Soap was also considered to be a luxury item, often exclusive to the upper classes, and was even taxed. When it became affordable, the general public began to benefit again from the use of soaps. Disease and death numbers from spreadable disease lowered and the importance of cleanliness was now seen as a necessity by the working and middle classes, who it was previously unavailable to. During the early to middle 1800's, soap chemistry was studied and improved, making more results based products. Costs were also reduced, soaps were even more affordable to all, and usage spread further and further.

The availability of washing machines in the early 1900's also helped increase the use and popularity of soaps, and led to modern developments in products that complemented the washing machine.

Following World War II, detergents gained in popularity over soaps, and are now used liberally by people of all classes. The importance of soaps, hand soap and cleanliness for disease prevention is another reason for educating the public about using soap products, even more so over the last year as the pandemic became vital. Today's cleaning products not only are safer for public use, but also hold a focus for the natural environment and environmentally concerned customers.

There is an abundance of new cleaning products for every purpose at home or in commercial use and modern homes often feature a plethora of soaps and cleaners that are used across bathrooms, kitchens, and public businesses. All of this helps assure safety and disease control. People are aware of the dangers of germs every time a major disease occurs, or an epidemic is threatening a population, such as the coronavirus pandemic of the last year.

Medical advisers recommend frequent hand washing as the first step in preventing flu, colds, and other commonly found diseases, which I’m sure you know all too well from recent experience! Hand washing is the number one step taken in the medical community to avoid spreading germs around hospitals, clinics, and industrial locations.


Safer chemical products are available that have less impact on the environment and that are eco-friendly. Low suds, cold water, and fragrance-free products help the green movement, and address some allergenic problems people may have.

Today is the best time in history to be able to use and enjoy safer, healthier cleaning products. Research continues to bring improvements to the marketplace, and new uses for cleaning products are found every day, everywhere along with our ever growing list of essential cleaning products here at Sph2onge.

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