Lysol Advertising, 1913 and 2013

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, May 14, 1913:  Nothing much doing, but the doing of rubbing, scrubbing, etc.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

The previous day Grandma wrote that she hoped to finish washing the kitchen ceiling “by tomorrow.”  Hopefully she finished washing the kitchen ceiling and moved on to other tasks.

Did Grandma use Lysol? It’s amazing that it’s been around for more than 100 years.

1913-03-43.cThe Way to get Real Lysol is to buy it in one of these three packages—never in bulk

By merely insisting on these original sealed bottles, you are sure of getting the real antiseptic and germicide, Lysol, itself.

Your physician will tell you it is important to get real Lysol, because imitations sold as Lysol and for Lysol, but which are not Lysol, may be crudely made, uncertain and unsafe in action, even positively dangerous—you can’t tell. But you can tell this—Only Lysol itself has the unique antiseptic, disinfectant and germicidal quality that have made it the standard product for over 20 years.

Three Sizes

25¢, 50¢, $.100

Sold by druggists everywhere

Look for Signature of LEHN & FINK on the Label

The value of the genuine Lysol is proved by its use as an antiseptic and disinfectant in practically every hospital in America. Nothing so completely destroys disease-germs, prevents infections, removes odors and makes the whole house sweet and clean. Your druggist has Lysol in original bottles (with full directions) which protect you against substitution and make Lysol’s use easy and convenient.

Write for Interesting Lysol Booklet

Full of helpful hints and listing the many uses of Lysol in the home.



Manufacturing Chemists

103 William Street, New York

The small words in the logo underneath Lysol say “better than carbolic acid.”

2013 Lysol Website

I compared the information on the current Lysol website with the hundred-year-old ad. Some of the ad lingo is similar—and some different. The  website headlines say:

Lysol—kills 99.9% of bacteria

Introducing Healthing

Cleaning is hoping you’re killing germs, Healthing is knowing it. Stop just CLEANING. Start HEALTHING.


35 thoughts on “Lysol Advertising, 1913 and 2013

  1. I wonder if it smelled the same as it does today? They probably would have loved Pine-sol, but it didn’t come along for almost 20 years. I read the Wikipedia article on Lysol and now know more than I wanted to know about it.

    1. After I read your comment, I looked at what it said on Wikipedia. You’re right–there’s more than I want to know. It was a versatile product! I might not have selected this ad to write a post about, if I’d read Wikipedia first. 🙂

  2. I feel as though I can say ‘ditto’ to Helena’s day but no Lysol in my cleaning cupboard. Amazing Lysol has been around for so long; like Sunlight Soap.

    1. It’s amazing that some products have lasted so long. I’m always surprised when I find a product that stayed around for more than a hundred years.

    1. I also was surprised that it was sold by pharmacists. I guess that it was “medicinal” to the extent that people were trying to kill the germs in sick rooms.

        1. I’m also surprised how many words the advertisements–as well as the articles–had back then. It almost seems like people had little reading material back then, and that they wanted it to take a long time to read through the magazine.

          1. Agreed! We’re so bombarded with messages now that marketers have to catch our attention immediately because if they hook us in the first line we move on. Well I know I do!

  3. Lysol makes me cough. Must look it up to see why. Maybe we aren’t getting the “real” Lysol anymore? I think vinegar (for cleaning) was used a lot in the old days too. Great post Sheryl!:)

  4. I like the old advertisement. Even back then they “warned” about buying a cheaper (nonbrand) version. I never know what I am going to find on your blog but it is always interesting.

    1. There’s so little that we can buy today for less than $1. I had to search on my computer to find the ¢ symbol when I did this post because I so seldom use it. 🙂

  5. I have one of those bottles. I found it when I was a kid along with a lot of other old bottles from the period. They were in a place where a farmer would dump trash and later a railroad put a spur line through going right next to the spot. When they did this the trash was buried. A nearby creek eroded the land later exposing what was left, mostly bottles. This,by the was, is within the boundaries of O’Hare Airport in Chicago.

  6. LOL, “healthing”. A little cheesy.
    I never knew Lysol was so old! Cool! I love it when you do comparisons of companies and statistics then and now. Anyone else notice the, ah, logo for Lysol is exactly the same as it was 100 years ago, minus the “carbolic acid” part?

    1. “Healthing” doesn’t quite work for me either–but apparently the ad copywriters think that it will appeal to people and it will lead them to buy more Lysol. 🙂

      It’s interesting that the logo hasn’t changed.

  7. I think ‘making up words’ to sell your products is assuming consumers are too savvy. Healthing? Spell check doesn’t even like it, LOL I don’t buy it because I don’t like the smell but they must have a loyal following to be around so long. You mentioned in another post that your Grandma was making $1.00 to clean the ceiling and it was equal to $24.00 today. Seems like a bottle of Lysol was pretty pricey back then if it sold for $1.00….yikes!

  8. When I began working for Allied Chemical, back in the early ’60’s, I stumbled upon the formula for “Lysol”! AND, a warning! The Original Compound was outlawed by the government in 1958. The Lysol you buy today is Lysol BRAND disinfectant! No where near as dangerous as the original, but lethal to. bacteria
    . It WAS very pricey back then, but, could also kill you as it destroyed everything! It WAS better than Carbolic Acid because it did not carry the smell or the stigma!

  9. Lysol was indeed deadly and some, like my Auntie, during the Great Depression in 1935 and the loss of her baby etc ., used it for suiciding and died an horrific death 😦

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s