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Ty D Bol
IndustryCleaning products
FounderHarry O'Hare
United States
Key people
Bill Willert, Current Ty-D-Bol Man, Bryan Willert, Executive Vice President

Ty-D-Bol, an American brand of toilet cleaner, was introduced in 1958. In its original format, the product is a blue cleanser/disinfectant liquid released into the toilet tank from an automatic dispenser.

The brand has changed owners repeatedly; Willert Home Products[1] of Saint Louis, Missouri, which acquired the brand in 2010, currently manufactures Ty-D-Bol in South St. Louis.[2]

The company is best known for its nautical spokesperson, the Ty-D-Bol Man, who piloted a boat inside the toilet tank in TV commercials from 1968 to 1984.


Introduced in 1957, Ty-D-Bol is still the most recognizable brand of in tank toilet bowl cleaners with its well-known Ty-D-Bol man icon and blue bowl water. The company may be best known for its nautical spokesperson, the Ty-D-Bol Man, who piloted a boat inside the toilet tank. Nattily attired in a captain's hat, blazer, and turtleneck, the suave skipper greeted 60's, 70's, and 80's TV audiences when the bowl lid was lifted.

Originally developed in 1958 by inventor and cleaning product pioneer, Harry O’Hare, Ty-D-Bol in its original form is a blue liquid cleanser/disinfectant for the toilet bowl. Other variants, such as a solid tablet in a water-soluble wrapper, were introduced later.[3]

In 1960, O’Hare sold Ty-D-Bol Chemical to its other executives for less than $100,000; independently he pursued an assortment of inventions - various detergents, a swimming pool chlorinator, a water softener.[4] Revlon briefly owned the company (as well as a shoe polish maker and a minority stake in Schick) as part of a diversification attempt which it quickly abandoned.[5]

In 1978, competing in-tank toilet cleaner 2000 Flushes was launched, initially as a jar of chlorine bleach crystals for the toilet tank.

In 1987, Sara Lee Household and Body Care purchased the Ty-D-Bol brand from near-bankrupt Papercraft Holdings,[6] operating it as part of its Kiwi Brands division in Douglassville, Pennsylvania.[7] After years of selling core assets to stay afloat, Papercraft folded in 1991.[8]

In 1991, colour consultant James Mandle advised Ty-D-Bol's new owners to change its packaging from a light blue and green to a bold colour scheme with bright white letters on a dark background. In the 18 months that followed, sales of Ty-D-Bol jumped 40%.[9]

A twelve-page booklet, "Ty-D-Bol Guide to Bathroom Cleaning - Spring Cleaning Edition", was offered free as a 1992 promotional gimmick to anyone who mailed a request and a self-addressed, stamped envelope.[10] The 1992 "Ty-D-Bol Spring Cleaning Report" commissioned New York-based public opinion polling firm Research & Forecasts to ask 1,006 American adults “if they had the power to throw out what exists and start all over again", what would they choose? 49 percent picked the U.S. Congress, 23 percent the IRS tax code.[11]

As a 1995 winning entry in the Washington Post Style Invitational (Week 121), Russell Beland of Fairfax, Virginia proposed "A useless product: New, lemon yellow Ty-D-Bol".[12][13]

Mid-1990s magazine ads promoted Ty-D-Bowl as "the only automatic bowl cleaner so powerful, it goes beyond clean to kill 99.9% of toilet bowl germs with every flush. And it's the only automatic cleaner you can buy that's registered with the United States EPA"[14]

As both Ty-D-Bol and competing vendors introduced new products, by 2000 the in-tank Ty-D-Bol "tablet" competed head-on with the Sani-Flush "puck", the Clorox "bleach in every flush" automatic toilet cleaner, the 2000 Flushes tablet and various Lysol or Vanish products — almost all established names which originally identified non-overlapping lines.

In 2005, Sara Lee updated the Ty-D-Bol brand with a new logo, package and slogan "Clean You Can See!". These remain in use by the brand's current owner, St. Louis-based family-owned private company Willert Home Products, which purchased Ty-D-Bol in 2010. Under new ownership the 12 new products have been developed for a total of 18 Ty-D-Bol branded Bathroom & Toilet Cleaning products.

In 2014, Willert Home Products launched Ty-D-Bol Natural Bathroom and Toilet Bowl Cleaners made with ingredients that are safer for human health and the environment while maintaining the consistent and effective performance expected of the Ty-D-Bol® Brand.

Ty-D-Bol Man[edit]

Ty-D-Bol is best known for its nautical spokesperson, the Ty-D-Bol Man. Nattily attired in a captain's hat, blazer, and turtleneck, he piloted a toilet tank-sized boat in TV commercials from 1968 to 1984. A number of different actors (including Dan Resin, Bob Kaliban, Fred Miltonberg, Larry Sprinkle, Mr. W.D. (Bill) Willert, and Mark Matheisen) played the dapper character.

Resin, who died at age 79 in 2010, was Dr. Beeper in the film Caddyshack.[15] Larry Sprinkle is a reporter for NBC affiliate WCNC-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina.[16] Mark Matheisen's film credits include roles in Forrest Gump, Plan B, A Walk in the Clouds, and Ocean Tribe.

Steve Levin of the Dallas Morning News once wrote: “He wore white slacks, a blue blazer, white shoes, a captain’s hat, and he drove a motorboat—in your toilet tank. He sang calypso, threw tiny lemons, and was a favorite topic for Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, Carol Burnett, and George Carlin. He was also the driving force behind a generation of kids peeking into toilet tanks to find the little man in the boat. He was the first to introduce the automatic bowl cleaner and the first to turn the water in the bathroom blue. He was the Ty-D-Bol Man.”[17]

Decades after the televised ad campaign ended, the character continues to serve as a symbol of the excesses of the advertising industry.

George Carlin said on one of his comedy albums that, "they're approving some pretty weird things, man. Like the guy in the toilet is pretty strange. Originally, it's a rowboat. Then he got a speedboat. Then he was on a raft with two calypso guy musicians and two bushels of lemons [singing] "We put the lemon in the Ty-D-Bol for you."

In a 1997 syndicated column, Dave Barry chimed in with "Also, remember the Ty-D-Bol man? The guy who used to float around the toilet tank in a little boat? I hate to burst your bubble, but he wasn't real, either. He was just a professional actor who happened to be six inches tall. The REAL Ty-D-Bol man is only four inches tall and is always watching you via a little periscope. Try not to think about it."[18]

According to Terry O'Reilly and Mike Tennant, the admen of CBC Radio’s The Age of Persuasion, "It's not easy to take seriously the marketing neverland where cartoon bears pitch toilet paper, where the Ty-D-Bol man patrols your toilet tank in a tiny rowboat and where a tin of Folgers coffee can heal a marriage. Yet the influence of marketing can't be ignored; worldwide, advertisers spend upwards of $600 billion a year trying to influence what you think, do and buy."[19]


  1. ^ Willert Home Products
  2. ^ Elliot Weiler (2013-08-09). "Ty-D-Bol is made in St. Louis". FOX2now.com. Retrieved 2014-07-26.
  3. ^ MSDS for Ty-D-Bol Automatic Toilet Cleaner, Blue Spruce, Evergreen, Lavender (Tablet), Sara Lee Corporation (2003)
  4. ^ "Harry O'Hare Hopes to Turn Water Into Gold : Ty-D-Bol Inventor Plans to Take On Big Guys With New Filtration Method". Los Angeles Times. 1988-01-19. Retrieved 2014-07-26.
  5. ^ "Revlon, Inc". Lehman Brothers Collection - Library.hbs.edu. 1985-05-01. Retrieved 2014-07-26.
  6. ^ Papercraft, The Pittsburgh Press - Nov 17, 1989
  7. ^ Local Kiwi operation sold, Reading Eagle (Pennsylvania), Aug 31, 1999
  8. ^ Former Papercraft Holding in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, The Pittsburgh Press - Oct 19, 1991
  9. ^ Nathalie Nahai (2014-04-22). Website Branding for Small Businesses. Retrieved 2014-07-26.
  10. ^ Hints for homemakers, Rome News-Tribune - Nov 23, 1992
  11. ^ "Ty-D-Bol Spring Cleaning Report: "Congress Needs A Good Spring Cleaning"". 1992-03-19. Retrieved 2014-07-26.
  12. ^ "The blots of Beland: A sampling of the No. 1 Loser's 1,500 drops of Style Invitational ink". The Washington Post. 2011-06-22. Retrieved 2014-07-27.
  13. ^ Yellow dye for toilets is manufactured, but solely as a novelty practical joke device; peepuck.com is one such vendor.
  14. ^ "Germ Warfare" (advertisement), Jet Magazine, 25 July 1994
  15. ^ "'Ty-D-Bol man' Dan Resin dead at 79". UPI. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2014-07-26.
  16. ^ Larry Sprinkle bio on WCNC-TV; Larry joined WCNC-TV in 1985.
  17. ^ Kiwi Brands, Inc.: Ty-D-Bol Man campaign, Judson Knight, Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Campaigns, Volume 1, 2000, pp. 911-915
  18. ^ Vanish lady's toilet available for sniffing, Dave Barry (syndicated column), Kentucky New Era - May 19, 1997
  19. ^ The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture, Terry O'Reilly, Mike Tennant - Knopf Canada, Oct 27, 2009

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