Vintage Ads: Selling Health and Hygiene During the 1918 Pandemic

Over 100 years ago, people were concerned about the Spanish Flu and other germs, and advertisers were there to assure Post readers that their products would help protect them.

Vintage Advertisement

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vintage advertisement
Lysol Shaving Cream
February 22, 1919
“During the Influenza Epidemic Lysol was used in several hundred thousand homes, and by a great number of business institutions.” (Click to Enlarge)


Vintage advertisement
February 2, 1918
“…has earned its place in the esteem of surgeons, physicians, dentists and public by its own distinctive virtues in preventing infection in wounds and as a lotion, douche, garble, mouthwash and in matter of personal hygiene.” (Click to Enlarge)


Vintage advertisement
February 8, 1919
“High ideals and cheerful service—Toilet and Hygienic Preparations of a purity to satisfy the most exacting standards.” (Click to Enlarge)


Vintage advertisement
Cordley & Hayes Water Coolers
February 8, 1919
“Epidemics and typhoid have resulted from the use of unsanitary, wrong-principled water coolers.” (Click to Enlarge)


Vintage advertisement
Peet’s Crystal White Soap
February 8, 1919
“This pure, white family soap cleanses quickly and with the thoroughness appreciated by particular housewives.” (Click to Enlarge)


Vintage advertisement
Lysol Antiseptic Shaving Cream
December 28, 1928
“Diseased hands, dirty hands, sweaty hands, millions of all kinds of hands grasp the car-strap. And car-straps cannot be kept clean; and they abound with all kinds of disease germs.”


Vintage Advertisement
B&B Formaldehyde Fumigator
April 20, 1918
“…colds, influenza and grippe are contagious, too. Their germs should be destroyed. So with all germs that lurk in dark places or breed in close rooms. The way to rid the home of them is gaseous fumigation.” (Click to Enlarge)



Vintage Advertisement
Round Oak Moistair Heating System
March 8, 1919
“To combat coughs, influenza and pneumonia, see that the air in your home is not only warmed but that it is AUTOMATICALLY circulated; that it is AUTOMATICALLY moistened; and that it is permanently free from dust, gas and smoke.” (Click to Enlarge)

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  1. These are very interesting ads. I’m sure several or more were around before the 1918 Pandemic, but that tragedy most definitely created the original mass awareness of how crucial cleanliness and hygiene are ever since, even if it became more lax after that crisis has passed.

    I was never aware Lysol had a shaving cream for men. I’ll have to look into that when I have more time. (I’m a Norelco guy myself). I was shocked when I saw a print ad in a 1948 LIFE magazine several years ago for Lysol as a douche product for women. It had a before and after photo of an unhappy man and woman, then a happy photo of both. The wording of the ad copy nor the photos weren’t that bad themselves (to be fair for the time), but the implications were, and are, of course. I even see the word douche in the 1918 Listerine ad.

    The gold Listerine is a great product. I gargle with it as a preventative measure for colds and definitely if I’ve gotten a sore throat. I water it down somewhat and add salt which helps. You can get the generic at the Dollar Tree and save several dollars. The nice tasting spearmint and red (Lavoris) generics are fine too as a mouth wash, but don’t have the medicine in them to heal your throat. It tastes bad for a minute, so what? It works!

    I get the idea and purpose of the B&B Formaldehyde Fumigator, but not sure how safe it necessarily was. I feel better about the Round Oak Moist Air Heating system. My mother had a vaporizer for me in the ’60s as a child, off & on if I had a cold when sleeping at night. She could even make being sick a pleasant experience for her boy here. The measles, couldn’t do much. She felt so bad too. I love you mom, and miss you everyday.


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