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Birth of an Icon: ARIEL

With its strong performance and sustainability across the broadest spectrum of markets and people around the world, Ariel continues to be a leading and long-standing detergent brand that is improving everyday lives.
Friday, January 11, 2013 11:20 am EST

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In the 1960s, washing clothes was an arduous labor of love. The sorting, soaking, boiling, pre-treating and scrubbing to remove stains was time-intensive and physically demanding.

At the same time, researchers at the P&G European Technical Centre (ETC) were studying an enzyme-based compound that was used to clean blood from butchers’ coats.

Researchers at the ETC found a way to improve on this compound by combining enzymes and encapsulated bleach in one product, and Ariel detergent was born – which would transform the way laundry was done.

Ariel was P&G’s first detergent to use enzyme technology, and with it, clothes became white and bright with far less effort.

Ariel was first introduced into West Germany, Italy and Mexico in 1967, and since then has grown into a megabrand not only in Europe, but also in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.

Its iconic atom symbol positioned the product as a new scientific breakthrough. And since its introduction, Ariel has undergone a steady stream of progressive product innovations.

These include improvements in cleaning and whiteness performance with activated bleach and bleaching systems, liquid for better dissolution and care of clothes, groundbreaking compaction technologies, and improved performance on specific stains.

Initially, specific formulas were used in different countries to meet distinct preferences. In some areas, bleach was added; in others, the product was designed for overnight soaking, etc. 

Ariel has also adapted to promote sustainability, and transformed the detergent world with material and packaging innovations that have made the laundry process less harmful to the environment. 

Ariel Ultra, introduced in the 1980s, was one of the first compact detergents reformulated without phosphates and fewer process aids. Low temperature washing innovations offered superior cleaning while saving energy. 

In the 1980s and 90s, Ariel’s dose sizes continued to decrease, helping to lower the environmental impact by reducing packaging volume, transportation needs and wastewater treatment. Ariel also introduced refill packs and dosing devices, like the ‘Arielette’ and ‘RollerBall,’ which helped Ariel’s cleaning power get straight to work, in the heart of the wash.

Ariel has developed many new products that meet the changing needs of consumers. Some recent innovations include:

  • Ariel Excel Gel, a concentrated gel that allows for a smaller dose from 15°C, providing up to 50% energy savings when turning from 40°C to 15°C.
  • Ariel with Actilift, which helps prevent particulate stains (like mud and clay) from setting into cotton fabrics.
  • Ariel with Febreze, with a new scent-delivery system to make fabrics smell great.
  • Ariel Stain Remover, which is specifically designed to work with detergent to be effective on tough stains, in just one wash.
  • And Ariel Excel Tabs, which provide individual, pre-dosed, water-soluble pouches that contain powerful liquid detergent that offers 2x more concentrated stain removal power than other Ariel liquid detergents.


With its strong performance and sustainability across the broadest spectrum of markets and people around the world, Ariel continues to be a leading and long-standing detergent brand that is improving everyday lives.

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