Meet the Inventor: Heather Day’s Chemistry for Sprays
Clorox is full of scientists of every stripe.
We’ve got microbiologists and geologists, engineers and chemists. We’ve got data scientists and social scientists, technical scientists and theoretical scientists.
One thing all Clorox scientists share, however, is deep curiosity and a passion for discovery.
Come meet some of our Clorox inventors.
As a child, Heather Day wasn’t drawn to the traditional toys and games that occupied other kids in her neighborhood. Instead, she’d spend hours tinkering with an environmental test kit or chemistry set.
“That’s just how I’m wired,” she says. “I’ve always known science is in my blood.”
Years later, Heather spends her time much the same way: questioning, experimenting, observing and learning. But as a senior scientist for The Clorox Company’s Cleaning division, her enjoyment these days comes from finding product solutions that make people’s everyday lives a bit better.
Formulating better spray products
Heather is a 12-year veteran of Clorox and works primarily on spray cleaners. She focuses on developing formulations that are more effective or satisfy people’s unmet desires. She also tries to reinvent existing products with fewer ingredients so they are more sustainable.
She also provides the data that supports our product claims. “I personally make sure the Clorox® spray cleaners that people buy perform exactly as we say they will,” Heather notes.
In keeping with our commitment to Good Growth that’s responsible, profitable and sustainable, Heather and her fellow Clorox scientists also work to make Clorox cleaning products as eco-friendly as possible.
“All of our major retail customers have environmental goals for everything they sell. So we make sure our formulations meet the goals of not causing pollution in the air, water or ground,” Heather says. “And of course, Clorox has its own sustainability goals not only for products, but also for containers and packaging. We’re always looking to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Heather’s most recent challenge has been to find new formulations for cleaning sprays where bleach is a key ingredient.
“Bleach is a difficult chemical component to work with because many raw materials and technologies that work well in other chemistries are not stable in a bleach formula,” she says. “It’s hard to make bleach products as easy-to-use for the consumer as a non-bleach product like our disinfecting wipes.”
But it’s this type of challenge makes Heather excited to come to work each day. She’s also motivated by the open environment of her laboratory space.
Powered by collaboration
“We each have an assigned lab bench, but we’re all together in one big room,” she notes. “So while I am working alongside colleagues who might be focused on different projects, we can ask each other questions, learn new ways of doing things or discover new thoughts on formulations just by hearing and observing colleagues as they do their work. Our setup fuels creative thought.
“Our environment doesn’t have barriers to communication,” she continues. “Especially for newer employees, it shows they should never hesitate to ask a question. None of us has all the answers. When younger scientists see us veterans kicking around ideas to solve a challenge, the intimidation disappears and they start to learn a lot really quickly.”
Learning outside the lab
The lab isn’t the only place where Heather learns critical lessons.
Heather spends about a week each year inside people’s homes, asking them questions and seeing for herself how they use Clorox cleaning products.
“It’s a privilege to be invited into a person’s home and talk to them about how they clean and what they like and dislike about the task,” she says. “And just when you think you’ve seen it all, you come across someone who does things in ways you never thought of. That sparks new ideas for me about how each product can be made to work better or with a better fragrance or with less scrubbing effort.”
To help her unwind from her scientific focus during the week, Heather spends much of her weekend in her garden.
“It’s a nice balance to get outside and get dirty after spending the week working on cleaning products in a very clean lab environment,” she says. “And even though I have a very messy 65-pound dog I love, I try hard to keep a very clean home. I do all of my own housework so that I keep the connection with our consumers and understand exactly how they experience our products. The outdoor and indoor things I do at home make me think more creatively when I get back to the lab on Monday.”