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A bottle of original Pine-Sol
Product typeCleanser
OwnerThe Clorox Company
CountryUnited States
Previous ownersHarry A. Cole
Ambassador(s)Katie the Cleaning Lady,[1][2] Diane Amos, Yvette Nicole Brown

Pine-Sol is a registered trade name of the Clorox Company for a line of household cleaning products, used to clean grease and heavy soil stains. Pine-Sol was based on pine oil when it was created in 1929 and during its rise to national popularity in the 1950s.[3] By 2016, Pine-Sol products sold in stores no longer contained pine oil, which was done to reduce costs.[4] The old Pine-oil containing formula is sometimes available online only.[5]


Pine-Sol detergent was invented by Harry A. Cole of Jackson, Mississippi, in 1929.[6]

In 1948, entrepreneur Robert Earnest "Dumas" Milner acquired Magnolia Chemical, the Jackson, Mississippi supplier of Pine-Sol.[7][8] Milner put Howard S. Cohoon in charge of the firm which had six employees: three salesmen and three who produced the product. In the following five years Cohoon turned the company into a multi-million dollar operation selling 20 million bottles throughout the United States and 11 other nations. Cohoon modernized the operation from manual bottling and labeling to full automation.

According to Cohoon, at that time pine oil was produced from old yellow pine tree stumps which were previously regarded as worthless.[3] After Pine-Sol went national, Milner Company began a national radio advertising campaign starting with the Robert Q. Lewis show in 1952. By 1955 the Milner company had purchased Perma-Starch, of Illiopolis, Illinois, and by 1959 Milner had grown to a $1.5 million daytime TV advertising package and a $100,000 radio buy shared between Pine-Sol and Perma-Starch.[8]

In January 1956, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Milner Company to cease and desist an advertising campaign that related to the false claims regarding the effectiveness of Pine-Sol compared to other pine oil containing products.[9] Milner Company had previously agreed to cease and desist several other false claims about germicidal and bactericidal properties of Pine-Sol in March 1951.[10] In February 1963, the Dumas Milner Company, including Pine-Sol facilities in Jackson, Miss., and Perma-Starch plant in Illiopolis, Ill., was taken over by Wayne, N.J. based American Cyanamid for stock valued at $17 million. Howard S. Cohoon was to remain in charge of the division.[11]

The Pine-Sol brand was acquired by Clorox from American Cyanamid's Shulton Group in 1990.[12][6] The 2005 version of the original 8% to 10% pine oil based cleaner was acidic (pH 3–4)[13] and could be used to remove bacteria from household surfaces. However, some of the products now contain bases (pH 10–11).[14]

There was also a dispute between Clorox and Reckitt Benckiser over potential consumer confusion regarding the fact that both Lysol and Pine-Sol end in "sol" and are used for cleaning. The issues spawned negotiations, agreements and lawsuits among several involved companies over the years from the 1960s to late 1990s.[15][16][17]


According to 1950s Milner executive Howard S. Cohoon, producer of Pine-Sol, pine oil is formed only in large stumps from cut-over timber that has remained in the ground for "at least 20 years."[3] It is not found in live pine trees.[3] When asked about the risk of running out, Cohoon estimated in 1954 that there was "enough to last for another 35 years." He was not worried about a shortage as he claimed pine oil could be produced synthetically.[3]

Although the original Pine-Sol formulation was pine oil-based, today the cleaners sold under the Pine-Sol brand contain no pine oil.[14]

In 2006, The Clorox Company's product line included "Clorox Commercial Pine-Sol Brand Cleaner", with the same ingredients and concentrations as "Original Pine-Sol Brand Cleaner 1."[18]

In 2008, the material safety data sheet for the "Original Pine-Sol Brand Cleaner 1" formulation listed 8–12% pine oil, 3–7% alkyl alcohol ethoxylates, 1–5% sodium petroleum sulfonate and 1–5% isopropyl alcohol.[13]

In January 2013, Clorox began making a product called Original Pine-Sol Multi-Surface Cleaner which included glycolic acid while lacking any pine oil.[19]

In January 2014, Clorox announced that Pine-Sol products would no longer contain pine oil, due to pine oil's limited supply and increased cost.[20] In response to consumer requests for the original formula, Clorox made available a product containing 8.75% pine oil to online purchasers, but said it would not be sold in stores.[4]


  1. ^ "1979 advertisement". The Pittsburgh Press. July 14, 1979.
  2. ^ "1980 advertisement". St. Petersburg Times. June 5, 1980.
  3. ^ a b c d e Boyle, Hal (September 12, 1954). "There's Gold in those Pine Stumps". Sarasota Journal. p. 11.
  4. ^ a b "FAQ – Why did Pine-Sol change the original formula?". Pine-Sol (Confirmed Official page via Facebook). Retrieved August 26, 2016. Pine oil supplies are limited and have become more expensive, which was a major factor in the change and will continue to be an issue around producing original pine scent Pine-Sol. In order to not pass those costs on to you, and keep the product affordable, we are not able to manufacture the original scent in the quantities required to be available in stores nationwide.[dead link]
  5. ^ "Original Pine-Sol Household Cleaner Disinfectant". Pine-Sol®. September 5, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2023. LOOKING FOR THE OLD FORMULA OF PINE-SOL PINE? Find it here... (which links to a website saying it's sold out as of 1 December 2023.)
  6. ^ a b "History of Pine-Sol". Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  7. ^ Dement, Polly (2014). Mississippi Entrepreneurs. Univ. Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-62674-123-2.
  8. ^ a b "How an old-line firm battles the big boys". Sponsor. 12–3: 34. December 1959. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  9. ^ "In the Matter of Milner Products Company, et al" (PDF). FTC Decisions. 52. Federal Trade Commission: 666. 1956.
  10. ^ "Disinfectant-Effectiveness and Safety: Milner Products Co" (PDF). FTC Decisions. 47. Federal Trade Commission: 1732. 1951.
  11. ^ "Dumas Milner Sells Company". Gadsden Times. February 20, 1963. p. 8.
  12. ^ Ramirez, Anthony (June 21, 1990). "Clorox Buying Brands Of Cyanamid Division". The New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Original Pine-Sol Brand Cleaner 1" (PDF). Material Safety Data Sheet. The Clorox Company. June 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 3, 2010. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  14. ^ a b "Pine-sol lemon scent MSDS" (PDF). The Clorox Company. July 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 10, 2012.
  15. ^ "Clorox Co. v. Winthorp". November 3, 1993. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  16. ^ "Clorox Co. v. Sterling Winthorp, Inc". July 31, 1996.
  17. ^ "Clorox Co. v. Sterling Winthorp, Inc. / Reckitt & Colman, Inc". June 26, 1997.
  18. ^ "Clorox Commercial Solutions Pine-Sol Brand Cleaner 1" (PDF). Material Safety Data Sheet. The Clorox Company. April 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  19. ^ "Original Pine-Sol Multi-Surface Cleaner" (PDF). Material Safety Data Sheet. The Clorox Company. January 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  20. ^ Northrup, Laura (January 2, 2014). "Why Does Pine-Sol No Longer Smell Like Pine?". Retrieved August 26, 2016.

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