Put Some Windex On It

Check out Ernie Smith’s “A Brief History of Window Cleaning” at Atlas Obscura.  Indeed, as American Historical Association Executive Director (and guest on Episode 1 of our podcast) Jim Grossman likes to say, #everythinghasahistory.

Here is a taste:

But as glass evolved as part of the 20th-century home, it suddenly became important to keep those panes of glass clean. And that meant there was an opportunity for the Philip W. Drackett Company to come about and make it easy.

That manufacturer’s product? Windex, of course, which was invented in 1933 and, 69 years later, famously called a wonder drug in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

“My dad believed in two things: That Greeks should educate non Greeks about being Greek and every ailment from psoriasis to poison ivy can be cured with Windex,” Nia Vardalos’ character says in the movie. People these days, meanwhile, have taken to “drinking” it for YouTube views, highlighting that, somewhere along the way, Windex became something more than simply a way to keep our windows clean. (For the record, we don’t recommend using Windex as a treatment for anything, other than dirty windows.)

It was the Drackett Company that started it all, in a time when new consumer chemicals were being rolled out at a rapid pace. Indeed, the 1933 invention of Windexwasn’t even the first major innovation to come from Drackett—that was Drano, the powdery lye-and-aluminum-and-dyed-salt solution that came about in the early 1920s. That once-a-week drain concoction was invented by Philip and his son, Harry. (The elder Drackett died just a few years later, in 1927.)

Read the entire piece here.