Apartment Living BlogApartment Living › Home Cleaning Fads Throughout the Years

Cleaning your home is not a glamorous task, but it is, of course, a necessary task. Over the years, we have seen some new cleaning innovations enter the market and permanently change the way we clean, and we have seen other telemarketing fads become momentary sensations in home cleaning trends.

This timeline walks us through home cleaning history (and it also makes us grateful for apartment must-haves like a washing machine and a dishwasher).

home cleaning fads
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Paper Towels: In 1931, the Scott Paper Company introduced paper towel rolls for the kitchen. In 2016, 311.4 Million people in the U.S. used them. According to Nielsen, the data shows about 74% of North Americans regularly use paper towels for cleaning. Comparatively, paper towel use is much lower in other parts of the globe. Both Europe and Latin America are about 50%, Asia-Pacific is about 43%, and just 35% of people in African or Middle Eastern countries use paper towels regularly for cleaning.

Washing Machines: In 1937, the automatic home washing machine was patented. It took less than two decades for this innovative device to go mainstream. By 1953, there were more automatic washing machines sold than wringer-type electric machines.

Comet Cleanser: Launched in 1956, Comet Cleanser was a powdered scrubbing agent that gained popular appeal after its black-and-white TV commercials aired in the ‘60s. In 2016, the product has the top market share with 39% of the U.S. abrasive tub and tile cleaner segment.

Self-Cleaning Ovens: In 1963, GE engineers were granted about 100 different patents for self-cleaning ovens. Looking back at advertisements for this technology in vintage magazines, we see electric ranges in the classic yellow color.


Dishwashers: Initially freestanding devices, dishwashers became commonplace in households during the 1970s. In 1978, a Kenmore that sold for $280 would cost $1,046 today. More recently, statistics show that 75% of U.S. homes had one as of 2012.

Vacuum Cleaners: In the 1970s, avocado green was so popular that even vacuums came in the color. But a decade later, in 1984, the Dirt Devil Hand Vac was released, making red the color of choice. It sold more than 25 million units. Because of the Dirt Devil, its parent company’s sales were $5 million in 1981 and grew to $408 million in 2000.


Miracle Mop: This self-wringing twist mop was developed by Joy Mangano because of her frustration with ordinary mops. Released in 1990, a few thousand were sold the first year. When the product was first shown on QVC in 1992, sales were slow at first. After convincing the network to let her go on air to market the product, Mangano sold 18,000 mops in just 30 minutes — wow! Nearly two decades later in 2000, the Miracle Mop had $10 million in sales annually.

Febreze: This odor-neutralizing spray was first launched in the mid-’90s, but the product did not resonate in the market. A few years later in 1998, it was launched again, and this time it was successful. Febreze had $230 million in sales within a year of the relaunch.

Swiffer: The idea for the Swiffer was developed by the R&D firm Continuum. During research, employees visited an elderly woman at her home and “accidently” spilled some coffee grounds. When she cleaned up the mess with a damp paper towel and not a mop, the researchers had an “aha” moment and the concept of a mop with a disposable attachment was born. The product launched in 1999 and had $100 million in sales the first month. Currently, Swiffer has $500 million in sales annually.


OxiClean: Its first appearance in infomercials was in 1997. A few years later in 2000, the product took off when pitchman Billy Mays got involved and the product started to be sold in Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Sales figures of the parent company went from $11.2 million in 1998 to $87 million in 1999, then to $120 million in 2000.

Roomba: Launched in 2002, this robotic vacuum cleaner sold 50,000 units in the first year. By 2017, more than 15 million units have sold, and the newest models now tell you if your kid’s bedroom is actually the dirtiest part of the house.

ShamWow!: In 2006, this infomercial product was launched. Initial claims were that it could hold “20 times its weight in liquid.” This was later changed to 12 times. Then it was changed again to 10 times.


Green Cleaning: American spending on green cleaning products has grown rapidly. In 2007, it was $303 million, and a few years later in 2011, it more than doubled to $640 million. In fact, 30% of North Americans seek eco-friendly cleaning products.

There’s an App for That: With tech tools on the rise, many companies are seeking to become the Uber of house cleaning. Even Amazon.com may be looking into a concierge-like cleaning service. In New York City, a three-hour house cleaning runs about $80 on some apps.


About :

Amber is the Director of Content Marketing for ForRent.com and has been with the company since April 2007. In her role, Amber strategizes, executes and optimizes a content and social media plans across multiple channels and platforms. This includes blogs, social networks, video sharing sites, and other conversational media. She spends a great deal of time building relationships with consumers, social media influencers, and bloggers to generate awareness of the ForRent.com brands. In her free time, Amber loves running, #hashtags, and DIY projects.

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