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The History of Automatic Dishwasher Detergent

Early automatic dishwasher detergents used pigments that often stained dishes and dishwasher interiors. After graduating from the University of Dayton, where he completed a master’s degree in chemical engineering in 1984, chemist Dennis W. Weatherby began working at Procter & Gamble as a process engineer. There, he led a team to create a new consumer product for dishwashers. He and his co-creator Brian J. Roselle received a patent for their invention — an “Automatic dishwasher detergent composition” — on December 22, 1987. Weatherby and his team successfully created a solution that utilized a category of dyes that could be used in products containing bleach. The result was a product that cleaned effectively but would not stain dishes. Notably, the dyes gave the soap a lemon-yellow color. It was sold on store shelves as Cascade. Today, the solution is still used as the basic formula behind all of today’s “lemon-scented” cleaning products that contain bleach. Several newer formulas have also hit the market, but the tried-and-true composition that Weatherby and Roselle came up with continues to be popular among consumers.

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