The origin of cleansing products dates back to prehistoric times. As water is essential for life, the prehistoric people lived near the sources of water and they knew something about its cleansing properties, such that it rinsed mud of their hands and body.
An adequate understanding of the history, safety and benefits of cleaning products by people is important to their effective and proper use. The history of cleansing products can be broadly defined in two headings -
At about the same time, Moses gave the Israelites some detailed laws, which govern personal cleanliness. Moses also related cleanliness to religious purification and health. According to biblical accounts the ancient Israelites knew that a kind of hair gel can be produced by mixing ashes and oil.
The ancient Greek people bathed for aesthetic reasons and they evidently did not use soap. Instead of using soap, they cleaned their bodies with blocks of sand, clay, pumice and ashes, then anointed themselves with oil, and scraped off the oil and dirt using a metal instrument called as a strigil. They are also known to use oil with ashes. They wash clothes without soap in streams.
In primitive societies and even today, the clothes are cleansed by beating and hitting them on rocks near a stream. Some plants, like soapworts, have leaves, which produce sapions and chemical compounds that give a soapy lather. These compounds were probably the first detergents that people used.
Now days, in modern times, the use of soaps and detergents has become wide and universal among the people across the world due to a better understanding of the importance of hygiene in reducing germs and other pathogenic microorganisms. Specially developed bar soaps become first available in the late nineteenth century, and the advertising campaigns in Europe and the US helped in increasing the popularity and awareness of the relationship between cleanliness and health. By the year1950, soaps and detergents had gained public acceptance as a tool of health and hygiene.