From the Archive: When Clorox First Dipped a Toe in Pool Hygiene

It’s pool season!

Clorox® Pool&Spa™ products hit the market in 2014. But did you know that The Clorox Company’s been interested in pools and hygiene since 1931? 

That year, The Clorox Company donated $300 (worth $5,000 in 2017), as well as a supply of Clorox bleach, to Dr. Robert T. Legge, the university physician at the University of California at Berkeley.

Dr. Legge conducted research on using Clorox bleach to relieve and prevent the spread of “Athlete’s Foot” (also known as Foot Ringworm) in the school’s gymnasiums and pools. Clorox later published a pamphlet about Dr. Legge’s findings. 

Clorox U.C. Berkeley gift

A 1930s pamphlet explains how Clorox bleach can fight Athlete’s Foot.

According to this publication, the University concluded that a foot bath of a Clorox solution proved the most efficient and practical treatment and preventative measure for Athlete’s Foot.

U.C. Berkeley placed rubber foot baths bearing the Clorox name in passageways between pools and shower rooms, noting “splendid results in controlling the spread of the disease.”

These foot baths were subsequently sold to universities and high schools.

One of two Clorox foot baths dating back to the 1930s in The Clorox Company archive.

The Clorox Company Archive contains two original Clorox foot baths, and yes, they appear to be used.

Even more interestingly, we also have a pencil-written flyer used to recruit volunteers for Dr. Legge’s research. “Wanted: 1,000 persons who are infected with Athlete’s Foot,” it reads. 

A flyer seeks volunteers for a Clorox-supported Athlete’s Foot study at U.C. Berkeley.

While not the most savory story from the Clorox Company Archive, these items attest to Clorox’s long-standing commitment to public health and wellness, and represent an early foray into pool hygiene.

Questions and ideas for the Clorox Corporate Archive are always welcome.