The word Tide suggests the rising and falling of the sea, just like the waters inside a washing machine, and also implies a powerful new trend in detergents for cleaning clothes.
In the 1920s, Americans used soap flakes to clean their laundry. The flakes performed poorly in hard water, leaving a ring in the washing machine, dulling colors, and turning whites gray. In the 1930s, scientists at Procter & Gamble discovered synthetic surfactants that extracted dirt and grease from clothes and then suspended it until it could be washed away.
In 1933, Procter & Gamble introduced Dreft detergent which, made with surfactants, could only clean lightly soiled clothes. A decade later, Procter and Gamble scientists discovered special chemical compounds called “builders” that help surfactants penetrate clothes fibers more deeply, allegedly “making them more effective than soap flakes, even on tough greasy stains.”
In 1943, Procter & Gamble invented Tide, the first heavy-duty detergent made from a combination of synthetic surfactants and builders.
In 1946, Procter & Gamble introduced Tide to test markets as the “New Washday Miracle.” Within weeks, Tide outsold every other brand, forcing storeowners to limit the number of boxes each customer could buy. Over the next 21 years, Procter & Gamble improved Tide 22 times.
Tide, the first heavy-duty synthetic detergent, is formulated from synthetic compounds rather than natural products.
The surfactants in Tide penetrate dirt, loosen it from a garment, and prevent the dirt from settling elsewhere on the garment.
Early marketing campaigns for Tide used the slogan “oceans of suds” and promised that Tide would wash laundry “cleaner than soap.”
Consumer Reports claims, “No laundry detergent will completely remove all common stains,” and reports very little difference in performance between major name brand powdered detergents.
Every year, researchers for Procter & Gamble duplicate the mineral content of water from all parts of the United States and wash 50,000 loads of laundry to test Tide detergent’s consistency and performance.
Tide is the best-selling heavy duty laundry detergent in the United States today.
Although a jug of Tide detergent costs approximately 50 percent more than the average liquid detergent, Tide outsells Gain, the second best-selling detergent, by more than double.
In 2013, New York Magazine reported that criminals steal bottles of Tide detergent to use as “ad hoc street currency” to buy drugs. A 150-ounce bottle of Tide could be sold on the street “$5 cash or $10 worth of weed or crack cocaine.” According to the article, criminals had nicked the detergent “Liquid gold.”