Oxydol advert, 1937
If I was a 1937-era housewife, this advert would definitely work on me. The thought of spending one whole day a week washing all the dirty laundry in one big go, the hard way, is a tiring thought. It’s bad enough having to handwash the essentials on those occasions when my washing machine has given up the ghost, but adding towels, bedding and baby-stained clothes to the mix – well, I’d be pretty happy with someone giving me advice on how to make it all end faster so I could go to the theatre instead.
Oxydol has a bit of a history as a pioneering product – it was the first commercial washing powder produced by Proctor and Gamble, introduced in 1927. And it’s left a lasting impression as the original “soap” behind the term “soap opera” as it became the sponsor of the “Ma Perkins” radio show in 1933, considered to be the world’s first soap opera.
Maybe that’s why their adverts are little soap operas themselves. Here’s another from 1937:
If you want the details on what exactly “wash-day” consisted of in the 30s, see my post here of instructions on how to manage it in 1938.
And then there’s this rather lovely little film also from 1938, produced by the American HQ of Oxydol, with the “Scientific Tintometer” mentioned in the advert above, shown in action. I’m rather fascinated by the washtub set up with the electric mangle.