Bleach and Ammonia Bottles

Digger Odell Publications © 2007

Bleach and Ammonia Bottles

Production of bottles containing bleach and ammonia began with the rise of the washing machine. Maytag, which began business in Delaware in 1893 was by 1924 capable of manufacturing 400 washing machines daily. By 1925 they had nearly quadrupled their output. With only 13 million homes wired for electricity there were still and estimated 4 million electric household washing machine in use by the end of 1924. With over 1.5 million homes being wired the growth potential was rich and the market was ready for household bottled laundry products. In 1914, only 13,000 electric washing machines were found in American homes [Barron’s Aug. 31, 1925]. Only one year earlier, the Clorox Company of Oakland California began business and it was not until 1918 that they produced the first bottles of bleach for household use.

American consumer’s habits were changing and nature’s way of bleaching by exposure to sunshine was fast falling out of favor for more “modern” methods. By the end of the 1920s, a number of companies had begun making household bleach available. The earliest companies were: Clorox (1913) , Javex (1919), Purex, (1923), Zonite (1924) Laudrex (1937). Of those the first three were the major producers of bleach bottles found by collectors and diggers today.

Clorox- Electro-Alkaline Co. Corporation California 809 high street Oakland California registered 1915.

1930s Clorox Bottle

1940s bottles

Dazzle Bleach (1924) amber bottles J. L. Prescott Company, Passiac, New Jersey.


Purex – Purex Corp, Los Angles registered 1934.

Javex Jug

Javex- 1932 Wilbert’s Javex 20 oz bottle 15. 1990 Colgate buys Javex from Bristol Myers Squibb largest marketer of bleach outside N. American.

1940-50 Fleecy Bottle

1930s Fleecy Bottle

Fleecy White (1938) John Puhl Products, Chicago (reg. 1948)


Hi-lex (1934) registered 1934 Hi-lex Corporation, St. Paul, Minnesota

"33" brand bleach (1938) registered 1941 by Beacon Chemical Corporation Philadelphia

Magic (1958) Purex Corporation, Lakewood, California

Roman –(1919) Roman Cleanser Company Corporation Michigan

Zonite (1924) Bleach

Ammonia Bottles

Selling ammonia in bottles goes back at least into the 1870s. Ammonia bottles have a charactertistic oval shape with a small mouth and tapered lip. Most of the pre-1900 bottles were aqua or clear in color. Later bottles were almost always clear.

Parson’s Household- CC. Parson’s started 1876, Columbia Chemical Works Corporation New York Brooklyn New York registered 1907.

Little Bo Peep (1921) John Puhl Products, Chicago registered 1924, owned by Purex Corp 1948.

Jack Sprat – Ammonia and Bluing (1918)


Bluing Bottles

Bluing- adds a trace of blue dye to improve appearance of whites.


In general bleach bottles have very little value to bottle collectors. Most sell for $2-5 or less Clorox bottles are probably the most common and come in a wide variety of styles. The earliest ones had rubber stoppers with the company name on them. Even more rare examples like the Magic jug do not command prices over a few dollars. There are simply too many bleach bottles surviving to be of interest other than as an indicator of age. The golden era for bleach bottles was between 1925-1958. The amber color was to protect the contents from light.

Like their cousins, ammonia bottle too have little collector fanfare. Ammonia, as a household product goes back further than does bottled bleach many non-machine ammonia bottles are found in 1880-1910 dumps. There are some colored Western Ammonia bottles from the Gas Light Company which command good prices. I have also seen a cobalt example of an oval ammonia bottle. These bottles have a characteristic oval shape with a small mouth and tapered lip. Some can be quite crudely made.