THEN AND NOW: What 10 household products looked like when they first came out

Bettmann/Getty ImagesThe original boxed Tide laundry detergent.
  • There are plenty of things inside our houses right now that we may take for granted, from Tide laundry detergent to Drano and Advil.
  • Some of these iconic brands have gone through big design changes throughout their histories.
  • Listerine used to be an antiseptic for surgery, not mouthwash.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The average American home has changed in innumerable ways over the last century, from the kitchen to the living room. Our favourite household products have changed along with them.

Tide and Drano used to come in powder or crystal form, Listerine came corked in a glass bottle, and Windex was sold in an aerosol can.

Keep scrolling to see how 10 of your favourite household products have changed since they were first sold.


Ivory Soap was first sold in 1878 by Procter & Gamble. It was marketed as the “Soap that Floats,” since air was accidentally mixed into the formula, causing it to float.

Fotosearch/Getty ImagesAn advertisement for Ivory Soap from Procter & Gamble circa 1879.

Source: Ohio History Central


Ivory has remained the same in the 100-plus years of its existence — although the packaging has changed.

Sheila Fitzgerald/ShutterstockIvory Soap in 2014.

Tide laundry detergent was launched in 1946. It was sold as a powder in cardboard boxes.

Bettmann/Getty ImagesA child with a box of Tide in 1956.

It’s been the leading laundry detergent in the US since 1949.


Now Tide comes in all shapes and sizes, including these plastic jugs filled with liquid, and the famous Tide Pods.

Richard Levine/Corbis/Getty ImagesContainers of Tide detergent on grocery store shelves in New York on April 22, 2015.

Tide Pods were the last type of Tide detergent to be introduced – they hit the market in 2012.

Liquid Tide was released in 1984.


Windex was first released in 1936 as windshield cleaner and came in glass bottles. It soon expanded to service home windows and was packaged in aerosol cans.

Cincinnati Museum Centre/Getty ImagesAn aerosol can of Windex ‘Blue Mist’ as a woman wipes a window in Cincinnati, Ohio, during the mid-20th century.

Source: Windex


Windex is now sold in the classic spray bottle, which it helped popularise as the standard “not safe to drink” bottle shape.

Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Bloomingdale’sA view of Windex at Good For The Globe pop-up on March 14, 2019, in New York City.

Source: Atlas Obscura


The first disposable Pampers diaper was sold in 1961 — before that, washable cloth diapers were the norm.

Underwood Archives/Getty ImagesEdith Irving purchasing pampers at People’s Drugstore on June 19, 1972.

According to Procter & Gamble, it took years of research and development to create disposable diapers that parents could feasibly use, and that were both comfortable and cost-effective.


Pampers are now a global staple that come in all shapes and sizes — though washable cloth diapers are once again on the rise.

Brynn Anderson/APProcter & Gamble’s Pampers diapers fill shelves on June 14, 2018.

Source: Vox


Dyson vacuum cleaners have only been around since 1990. Here’s what the first one looked like.

SSPL/Getty ImagesDyson’s bagless vacuum cleaner, the first ever vacuum cleaner created by James Dyson in 1990.

Dyson vacuums are known for being bagless. The first “bagless vacuum,”called the G-Force, was sold exclusively in Japan by Dyson for a cool $US2,000.


Today Dyson vacuums barely look like vacuums at all, and the company has branched out into other appliances.

Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty ImagesVacuum cleaners seen at a Dyson store in Shenzhen, China, in 2019.

They’re cordless, they’re thin, and they’re cheaper than $US2,000 – though not by much.


Listerine used to be sold in a glass bottle with a cork, back when it was first invented as an antiseptic in 1879.

Dick Whittington Studio/Corbis/Getty ImagesPhotograph of a bottle of Listerine in 1931.

Listerine was inspired by an English doctor named Joseph Lister, who was the first surgeon to conduct procedures in a sterilized room in 1865, leading to a fall in mortality rates.

Just over a decade later, another doctor, Dr. Joseph Lawrence, was inspired by Lister and began bottling Listerine, “a unique antiseptic for use in surgeries and bathing wounds.”


Listerine now encompasses different flavours and products, in addition to the classic mouthwash — but in a plastic bottle with the trademark serving-size cap.

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty ImagesClose-up of a bottle of Listerine Cool Mint brand mouthwash in 2019.

Listerine first as sold as prescription mouthwash in 1914, and over the years it has become the preeminent mouthwash in the US.


Drano was originally sold as a crystal mixture in 1923.

Cincinnati Museum Centre/Getty ImagesDrano on the shelves.

Drano is most likely everyone’s first thought when they encounter a clogged drain – for almost 50 years, it was the only name in drain cleaning.


Drano is now primarily sold in liquid or gel form.

melissamn/ShutterstockDrano Max Gel, a powerful drain cleaner, on sale in a grocery store shelf in 2019.

SC Johnson & Son purchased Drackett, which produces Drano, in 1992. Drackett also produces Windex.


Roomba, the popular automatic vacuuming robot, was invented in 2002 by iRobot.

Douglas McFadd/Getty ImagesiRobot’s Roomba Intelligent FloorVac — billed as the first automatic floor cleaner in the US — is demonstrated at the company headquarters on September 25, 2002.

Purchasing a Roomba meant that the days of vacuuming your own apartment were in the past. Plus, they’re kind of like little robot pets.


The Roomba is currently on its seventh iteration, though it doesn’t look much different from the original.

Katherine Frey/The Washington Post/Getty ImagesThe i7* Roomba in October 8, 2018.

The newest Roomba actually empties itself and memorizes a home’s floor plan.


Perhaps surprisingly, Advil has only been around since 1984.

Mario Ruiz/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty ImagesBox of Advil pain reliever in 1994

Ibuprofen, the active ingredient, was only patented by UK scientists in 1961. It took more than two decades for Pfizer to bring the pain reliever to the US under the name Advil.


The Advil packaging largely remains the same, down to the font.

Jer123/ShutterstockAdvil in September 2018.

In 1918, Frigidaire started to mass produce refrigerators for the home. The design looks more like a wooden cabinet.

Bettman/Getty ImagesMen stand beside the first Frigidaire, made by Delco Light Company, a subsidiary of General Motors in 1924.

In 1924, Frigidaire added cubbies like these, for different products like ice cream and produce.


Now fridges can connect to the internet.

SamsungA modern fridge.

They’re called Smart Fridges – some even connect to Alexa, or come with a built-in Keurig.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.