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Brillo Pad is a trade name for a scouring pad, used for cleaning dishes, and made from steel wool impregnated with soap. The concept was patented in 1913, at a time when aluminium pots and pans were replacing cast iron in the kitchen; the new cookware blackened easily. The company's website states the name Brillo is from the Latin word for "bright", although no such word exists in Latin. In Spanish the word brillo means the noun "shine"; however, German, Italian, French, and English do have words for "shine" or "bright" beginning with brill- deriving from Latin words for beryl.
In the early 1900s, in New York, a cookware peddler and a jeweller (his brother-in-law), were working on a solution to the blackened cookware. Using jewellers' rouge, with soap and fine steel wool from Germany, they developed a method to scour the backsides of cooking utensils when they began to blacken. The method worked, and the peddler added this new product, soap with steel wool, into his line of goods for sale.
Demand for the steel wool and soap with the jewellers' rouge increased quickly, and the peddler and the jeweller decided to patent the product. Because they lacked the money to pay for legal services, they offered attorney Milton Loeb an interest in their business instead. Loeb accepted, and in 1913, he secured a patent for the product under the name Brillo. The partnership that formed between the peddler, the jeweller and the attorney became known as the Brillo Manufacturing Company, with headquarters and production operations in New York City.
By 1917, the company was selling packaged boxes of six pads, with a cake of soap included. It was only in the 1930s that the soap was contained within the pad. The company merged with Purex Industries in 1962. The Dial Corporation bought Purex Industries in 1985. In 1997, it sold Brillo to Church and Dwight. In the US, Brillo is made in London, Ohio.
In 2010, Armaly Brands of Walled Lake, Michigan, primarily a manufacturer of sponges, purchased Brillo from Church & Dwight. At that time there were about 50 employees, down from a high of about 150 in the 1990s.