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Cleaning and disinfecting in 1918…a formaldehyde fumigator?

Posted by Ray Szydzik on

In the mid-1900s, during the Spanish Flu pandemic, and automobile factory  was one of the cleanest in the world. Every 24 hours items that were touched were sterilized, even coat racks were disinfected. Rubbish was cleaned 12 times a day and thousands of janitors did nothing else but clean.

Sound familiar? It has been said history repeats itself … similar to today’s COVID-19 cleaning practices? Luckily, we have the help in the form of modern cleaning supplies and disinfectants that they could not have had like modern antibacterial soap, non-touch urinals and cartridges and new urinal disinfectants.

One lesson learned is the effectiveness of regular cleaning and sanitizing, especially sanitizing objects that we take for granted like faucets, stalls, door handles that help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.

There are many similarities between today’s COVID-19 prevention advice and the 1918 pandemic:  quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings that helped stem the pandemic. Although in 1918 it was limited to non-pharmaceutical intervention.

Incidentally, a formaldehyde fumigator was thought to kill germs with its heated gas during the Spanish Flu pandemic. It was used to fumigate new homes before moving in and existing homes after coughs and colds, influenza and the “grippe.” It is an extremely toxic gas. The fumigator is banned today in many countries.

Let us help keep your facilities sanitized. We have items such as SLOAN ESD-217  and SLOAN ESD-232 soap, urinal cartridges and disinfectant ready to ship. Just call 847-358-8664 or email for a quick response or visit

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