Formula 409

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Formula 409 Home & Industrial Cleaner
Formula 409.jpg
Product typeCleanser

Formula 409 is a brand of home & Industrial cleaning products well known in North America, but virtually unknown in other countries. It includes Formula 409 All-Purpose Cleaner, Formula 409 Glass and Surface Cleaner, Formula 409 Carpet Cleaner, and many others. The brand is currently owned by Clorox.

The flagship product was invented in 1957 by Morris D. Rouff, whose Michigan company manufactured industrial cleaning supplies.[1] Formula 409’s original application was as a commercial solvent and degreaser for industries that struggled with particularly difficult cleaning problems.

The inventor's son has stated that it was named for the birthday of the inventor's wife, Ruth, on April the 9th (rendered in the American style with the month first as "4/09").[1] The company, however, claims that it was named as the 409th compound tested by the inventors. Other claimed origins for the name include 409 being the telephone area code where it was invented (area code 409, which serves southeastern Texas, was not introduced until 1983); the birthday of some other person, such as the inventor's daughter; or a reference to a powerful Chevrolet car engine used in the 1960s.

In 1960, Rouff sold Formula 409 to Chemsol, a New York firm, for an amount in the low six-figure range. In the mid-1960s, entrepreneur Wilson Harrell, along with longtime friend David Woodcock and television personality Art Linkletter, bought Formula 409. Harrell, Woodcock & Linkletter bought it for $30,000 and took it national. Linkletter also promoted the product in television commercials. The company eventually took Formula 409 to a 55 percent share of the spray-cleaner market, and six years later, Harrell, Woodcock & Linkletter sold the company to Clorox for $7 million.[2][3]


Throughout the 1960s, commercials featured Betty Boop.

In the late 1990s to the early 2000s, a cover of The Beach Boys' 1962 song "409" was used. The song's title refers to the name of the Chevrolet engine.

One commercial from 2005 shows a fictional Formula 410. As a character hits the trigger, electricity shoots out instead of spray. The announcer says, "Because the world is not ready for Formula 410, there's Formula 409".


  1. ^ a b Rouff, Brian. "When Myth Becomes Reality". Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  2. ^ "A business `buccaneer' laid to rest – Atlanta Business Chronicle". 1997-12-22. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
  3. ^ "Unconventional financing ideas that actually work in practice – Atlanta Business Chronicle". 1996-10-21. Retrieved 2013-04-04.

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