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A box of Kleenex facial tissues
Product typeFacial Tissue
CountryUnited States
IntroducedJuly 12, 1924; 99 years ago (1924-07-12)
Previous ownersInternational Cellucotton Products Company
Registered as a trademark inUSA

Kleenex is a brand name for a line of paper-based facial tissues. Often used informally as a genericized trademark for facial tissue, the name Kleenex is currently a registered trademark of Kimberly-Clark. Kleenex products are manufactured in 78 countries and sold in more than 196 countries.


Kleenex began during the First World War when the Cellucotton company developed a crepe paper gas mask filter. In the 1920s, the product was modified into the menstrual pad Kotex. A further modification of the original crepe paper made it thinner and softer, and the resultant 1924 product was called "Kleenex" and marketed as a cold cream remover. [1] In line with the company's requirements for their brand names to be short, easy to say, and easy to explain, the name Kleenex was selected as the "Kleen" portion of the name denotes its cleansing purpose. The "ex" was added to show that Kleenex was of the family of products that included Kotex. This was the first marketing of a disposable paper-based facial tissue in the western world, and was sold as a substitute for face towels or cotton wool. In 1925, the first Kleenex tissue ad was used in magazines showing "the new secret of keeping a pretty skin as used by famous movie stars." A few years after the introduction of Kleenex, the Cellucotton's head researcher tried to persuade the head of advertising to try to market the tissue for colds and hay fever. The administrator declined the idea but then committed a small amount of ad space to mention of using Kleenex tissue as a handkerchief. By the 1930s, Kleenex was being marketed with the slogan "Don't Carry a Cold in Your Pocket" and its use as a disposable handkerchief replacement became predominant.[2] In 1943, Kleenex began licensing the Little Lulu cartoon character to popularize the brand.[3]

An older, retouched version of the Kleenex logo, as used from 1992–2007

Kleenex trademark[edit]

Original 1925 Kleenex trademark

The original Kleenex trademark application at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) was filed in the class of Medical, Beauty, & Agricultural Services by Cellucotton Products Company of Neenah, Wisconsin, on July 12, 1924. The description provided to the USPTO was "absorbent pads or sheets for removing cold cream."[4]

In the application, Cellucotton claimed that it had used the drawing and stylized word mark in commerce since June 12, 1924.[4] USPTO granted trademark registration on November 25, 1924. International Cellucotton Products Company officially assigned trademark interest and good will of the business to Kimberly-Clark Corporation on September 30, 1955. Kimberly-Clark Corporation of Neenah, Wisconsin is the current registered owner of the Kleenex trademark.[5]

Nationwide marketing of Kleenex (as a means of removing cold cream rather than as a tissue for sneezes) was rolled out in the first week of September 1924 in Chicago with an ad for the Walgreen drug store chain on September 2 [6] and with an offer on September 4 for a free sample in New York City [7]

In the U.S., the Kleenex name has become—in common usage but not in law—genericized. The popularity of the product has led to the use of its name to refer to any facial tissue, regardless of the brand.[8] Many dictionaries, including Merriam-Webster and Oxford, now include definitions in their publications defining it as such.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Kleenex Story". Kleenex Official Site. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  2. ^ "Kleenex Brand Story". Kleenex.com. Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  3. ^ ""Marge and Lulu: The Art of the Deal," Jennifer Gotwals, Hogan's Alley #15, 2007". Archived from the original on May 1, 2013. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, September 2, 1924, p.40 ("Ser. No. 199,932... Filed July 12, 1924... Claims was since June 12, 1924")
  5. ^ "United States Patent and Trademark Office, registration #s 0019194;0022859;0029753;0038458;0408618". June 12, 1924. Retrieved June 25, 2010.
  6. ^ Chicago Daily Tribune, September 2, 1924, p.13 ("A soft, velvety tissue for removing cold cream from the face. It is safe, sanitary and inexpensive. Use it once and throw it away.")
  7. ^ Daily News (New York City), September 4, 1924, p.21 ("This new way removes cold cream safely... Adopted by famous actresses, advised by beauty doctors and skin experts."
  8. ^ "Has kleenex become a generic trademark?". genericides.org. Archived from the original on October 20, 2021. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  9. ^ "Kleenex". Archived from the original on October 15, 2017. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  10. ^ "Kleenex". Retrieved April 9, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Henrich, Thomas; Batchelor, Bob (2004). Kotex, Kleenex, Huggies. Ohio State University Press. ISBN 0814209769.

External links[edit]