The Clorox Company

Clorox® Professional Products

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The History of the Clorox Company

On May 3, 1913, five California entrepreneurs* invested $100 apiece to set up America's first commercial-scale liquid bleach factory, which they located in Oakland, on the east side of San Francisco Bay. In 1914, they named their product Clorox® bleach.

In the ensuing years, The Clorox Company – as it is now known – has grown into a worldwide manufacturer and marketer of consumer products.

Seizing Opportunity

They were an unlikely group to embark on such an enterprise: a banker; a purveyor of wood and coal; a bookkeeper; a lawyer; and a miner, the only one of the five with any practical knowledge of chemistry.

Their ambitious plan was to convert the brine available in abundance from the nearby salt ponds of San Francisco Bay into sodium hypochlorite bleach, using a sophisticated and technologically demanding process of electrolysis. They called their new undertaking the Electro-Alkaline Company.

In August 1913, the company acquired a plant site in Oakland for which the directors agreed to pay $3,000. During its outfitting, an engineer for an equipment supplier, Abel M. Hamblet, suggested a name for the new product. From the words "chlorine" and "sodium hydroxide," which in combination form the bleach's active ingredient, he proposed the amalgam "Clorox."

He also sketched "a diamond-shaped design...with the word 'Clorox' in bold letters in the center and appropriate wording on the four sides." Pleased, the founders immediately registered Hamblet's design as the company trademark. The appropriate words inset in the diamond's four facets were "Liquid Bleach Cleanser Germicide."

An initial stock issue of 750 shares priced at $100 each was fully subscribed by the end of 1914. That gave the company $75,000 in start-up capital. Horse-drawn wagons began clopping between the bleach plant and Oakland laundries, breweries, walnut processing sheds and municipal water companies. These were the first customers for the original high-strength Clorox liquid bleach, which contained 21 percent sodium hypochlorite, and which was sold in 5-gallon jugs.

*The five entrepreneurs were Edward Hughes, a purveyor of wood, coal, grain and hay; Charles Husband, a bookkeeper at a paper-bag factory; William Hussey, a miner; Rufus Myers, a lawyer; and Archibald Taft, president of the local Harbor Bank.