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The history of Persil

Discover the Persil history from 1907 to today

The history of Persil

Persil, the first self-acting detergent in Germany.

In 1907 the chemists at Henkel succeed in revolutionizing laundry. They combine sodium silicate with sodium perborate, which when boiling the laundry releases fine pearling oxygen. This not only has the effect of – in contrast to the chlorine used up to then – an especially textile-friendly and odourless bleach. It also takes away the strenuous and time-consuming rubbing, swinging and scrubbing of the laundry for the housewives. The first self-acting detergent is born: Persil. The first announcement advert appears on 6 June 1907 in the Düsseldorf newspaper. Then Persil makes its way into the retail trade packaged in thin cardboard cartons with printed paper wrapping made and filled by hand.

The Weisse Dame [white lady] launches her advertising campaign for Persil.

Who does not know her, the lady all in white with a Persil package in her left hand? She stems from the studio of Berlin artist Kurt Heiligenstaedt, a known cartoonist. In 1922 he is asked to design a Persil poster. The Weisse Dame is by no means a figure of his imagination, however, rather the artist's 18-year-old girlfriend. Together with her, Heiligenstaedt buys a white dress in a fashion house on Alexanderplatz and has her model with a Florentine hat and a product package. From then on the result decorates enamelled signs, posters, gable ends and street clocks. The Weisse Dame with its changing types of women and fashion directions remains the central advertising figure of Persil across many decades.

The war is over, Persil is back.

Everybody just seems to have been waiting for it: Scarcely is Persil back in the stores after the end of the Second World War, it is quickly sold out up to 75 percent. For many Persil means getting back to normalcy, to peace. "Persil once again comes from Düsseldorf" announces a gigantic banner over the Rhine bridge. The product name is again brought to mind all over Germany with neon signs, pennants and posters.  The detergent formula was changed only very slightly: Visual brighteners were added that were to lend the laundry an even purer white.

Persil 59 – the best Persil there's ever been.

The first synthetic heavy-duty detergent in Germany also comes from Henkel. Fitting the year of its introduction, it's called Persil 59. Synthetic anionic surfactants, a foam enhancer and a fresh scent are the new ingredients of the best Persil there's ever been. At least that's the advertising promise that is being conveyed to the consumer in a broadly based print, radio and TV campaign. For the first time a professional advertising agency is responsible for the brand appearance. Besides the formula, the Persil packaging was also visibly changed.

Persil 70 – quite clearly "Our best".

In 1970 the promotion "Our best" is conducted for the first time with overwhelming success. It's impossible to think of Persil advertising without the red ribbon ever since, now regularly decorating the best Persil of its time. When Persil 70 comes into stores with a changed packaging design, it's not only available in Germany but almost all over Europe by now.

Persil. You know what you've got.

With the introduction of this new Persil, the product name on the packaging appears without the addition of a year, as had been the rule up to now. Instead a new slogan is introduced into the branding, one that will stay with the consumer for the long term: Persil. You know what you've got.

Persil phosphate-free – progress for the environment.

Environmental protection is becoming an ever-more relevant topic in the 1980s. At Henkel it already has a long history: Already at the beginning of the 1950s, attempts were undertaken to research the biological biodegradability of surfactants. In 1966 the research project "Phosphate Replacement" was born. Because both surfactants, which release the dirt from the laundry, and phosphates, which make the water soft, pollute the waters.  They succeed in developing surfactants that are more and more biodegradable. And for phosphates the researchers even find a substitute material: Zeolith A (Sasil®). A patent is registered in 1973.

Persil liquid – the alternative to powder.

Once again Henkel expands its Persil range – this time by a product that is to revolutionize an already existing niche area of the detergent market: Persil liquid.

Persil Megaperls®: Pearls instead of powder.

Another milestone in the Persil story: The development of a detergent that has an even better washing performance and at the same time requires clearly less product. Over five years Henkel researchers worked on a procedure to concentrate active ingredients correspondingly high. A completely new production technology brings the breakthrough – and a new detergent generation: pearls instead of powder. Where before 290 millilitres of customary powder had to be used, now only 95 millilitres of new detergent suffice. The Persil Megaperls® – offered in light 1.6 kg packages with a view window – provide Henkel with a clear advantage in innovation. The new detergent technology is patented in all of Europe.

Persil Tabs: tablets for the washing machine.

Convenience is the magic word: How can we make washing as simple and convenient as possible for consumers? Henkel finds a solution here too: Universal detergent in tablet form. Persil Tabs are made up of highly concentrated active ingredients that are separated into two phases, clearly recognizable by the blue and the white side. The ready doses only have to be placed in the dispensing drawer – and the washing can begin.

Persil Sensitive: for people with sensitive skin.

Specially for people who tend to have sensitive skin or suffer from allergies, Henkel together with the German Allergy and Asthma Alliance [Deutscher Allergie- und Asthmabund e.V.] developed a product that in addition to the customary washing performance is very skin tolerant: Persil Sensitive.

Persil Color – "power-enhanced at 40° C".

This year Persil is developing the new Persil Color that already at 40° C clearly removes your stubborn stains better and at the same time is gentle on the fibres, form and colour of your laundry.

Persil with a touch of Vernel.

There's now the combination of fibre-deep cleanliness with a touch of Vernel for a special scent and softness experience from Persil – for a unique experience of well-being in fresh clothes: The innovative Persil version "with a touch of Vernel" complements the range of Germany's No. 1 detergent and thus provides for a new feeling of cleanliness, softness and freshness.

Persil turns 100.

Persil is celebrating its 100th anniversary and is showing up on the market with a new, modern design and with improved formulas.

Persil GOLD with the cold-power formula.

Persil Gold fulfils the highest demands for quality that can be placed on a detergent. It provides radiant cleanliness and retains the glowing colours of your clothing even at very low temperatures thanks to its cold-power formula. As an aside you save energy and thus can protect the environment.

Small, powerful, super high yield.

In June, Persil launches the new super concentrate ActicPower. ActicPower is available in the Universal and the Color versions and already at 15° C provides for glowing colours and radiant cleanliness. The handy 750 ml bottle is just as high yielding as the previous gels, because ActicPower is highly concentrated and less than half a capful is enough to achieve the usual washing effect.

Hygienic cleanliness from 15° C!

Since 2010 there is hygienic cleanliness for an all-over good feeling starting at just 15° C. Persil Hygiene Spüler sees to this. That's because it removes up to 99.99 % of bacteria and germs* already from 15° C, while being gentle on skin, colours and fibres. The Hygiene Spüler is suitable for every wash program as well as all textiles. Use biocides safely. Always read the labelling and product information before use.
* special bacteria, fungi and viruses, such as influenza

Only clean laundry can truly sparkle.

For this reason there is now a Persil with the new brightness formula since February 2011. It removes even the smallest particles of lime and grime and brings sparkle back to the laundry. This way the laundry not only stays beautiful longer, it sparkles like on the first day. And the labels are also sparkling from now on in a newly configured gloriously colourful design.

Persil Black Gel: even black is a highlight.

Thanks to its special long-lasting black formula, the innovative Persil Black Gel offers special protection for dark and black textiles. They are protected from bleaching out even after several wash cycles and thus keep their colour longer. All to enjoy the beautiful black of your favourite pieces for a long time to come.

Simply perfect: the Persil Mega Caps.

With the Persil Mega Caps Henkel is setting another milestone in the research and development of innovative detergents. For the first time it's possible to put pre-measured liquid detergent directly into the drum. The small pads completely dissolve during the wash cycle and provide a perfect washing result.