Remarkably frank Lysol douche ad

The message in this Lysol douche ad: use it or you will be so utterly repulsive down there that your husband will lose all sexual interest in you and your marriage will fall apart and it will all be your disgusting fault.


  1. “…makeshifts like …soda…” Soda?!? SODA???!!!???!?! Soda, as in carbonated water, or pop?!?

      1. Full-on Coca Cola. I learned about that from watching Carnivale- there is a scene where Rita Sue says she is all messed up down there (heaven knows what she means) and her husband take a soda out, opens it and takes a sip, and then tosses it to her, where she proceeds to shake it up and stick it where the sun don’t shine. Because it bubbled up, it was thought to get into all the little nooks and crannies and wash all the sperm/filth out. Which of course, it doesn’t. But crazy trivia, eh?

  2. I think the real problem with this couple’s sex life may have something to do with David being in the closet.

    1. Brainspore:

      You rock. That is all.

      (Boy, aren’t the “doubt” and “inhibitions” locks appropriate when this ad is viewed in that light? This practically screams for a Photoshop do-over of the ad copy.)

  3. No advice on how to dip Dave’s balls in Lysol? Because I gotta tell you about us guys and stink…

  4. “…women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I, uh… I do not avoid women, Mandrake.” You gotta preserve your P.O.E.

  5. I’m not sure how worldwide the Lysol brand is, so… For those outside the US and North America, Lysol is a disinfectant cleanser that is commonly used in solution to mop tile floors and, though there are better formulations for this now, in the ’50s clean your toilet, your commode. The crapper.

    Yes ladies, your husband wants nothing to do with your crotch rot. So wash it out with that toilet wash. AS OFTEN AS NECESSARY. Because you know your cunt is just that filthy and stanky.

    I’ve complained about diluting frank adult speech, but this is just jaw-dropping in cruelty.

    And we’ve not even touched on how fantastically misguided it is. Destroying the natural fauna is a good way to turn that into a full blown yeast infection.

    1. RE: I’ve complained about… should read:

      I’ve complained about PC speak diluting…

      Previewed this time

  6. I just *knew* the next to last paragraph was going to end like this: “…and to use it as often as necessary. No greasy aftertaste.”

  7. Non-caustic douche will go well with the new, splinter-free toilet paper. Of course, I might not need the toilet paper since there’s ‘no greasy after-effect’.

  8. I was just remembering the story “The Basque and Bijou” where Bijou is asked not to wash. Was in the 50’s that men began to prefer a chemical smelling vagina to a human smelling one?

    I was assuming that soda meant “bicarbonate of soda”. A sweetened carbonated beverage could cause nasty yeast infections. So could using disinfectant to kill the bacteria that are supposed to be there.

    1. Mitch, around the same time that the fear of nakedness/the human body became institutional.

      This is worse in any place where nudity is considered a criminal offense which harms others. Places where a nude statue gets covered up (lady liberty?) might be taken as an example.

    2. Was in the 50’s that men began to prefer a chemical smelling vagina to a human smelling one?

      A great Adam Curtis documentary The Century of the Self, explains how Freud and psychoanalysis began affecting marketing in the late 30’s and how corporations started catering to desires rather than needs. The belief was that the public was irrational, impulsive, childish and self-centered so corporations (and governments ought to handle-or manipulate- people as such for greater success).

      When the instant cake mix came out, the documentary shows, it was advised to make it so women would also have to add an egg instead of just water. The thought was that housewives would feel like they’ve ‘worked harder’ and included a personal touch by adding and mixing that egg in, so they wouldn’t feel as guilty not making the cake from scratch.

      This ad probably falls into this category. It catered more to women’s complexes and insecurities than men’s ‘sudden’ issue with vagina smell. Lysol knew that most women wouldn’t actually have such a discussion (about sex and body functions) with their husbands and would take the ad’s word for it.

      It’s baffling to look back at such shamelessly manipulative ads, but, really, I’m not sure it’s all that different today :(

  9. Soda is referring to sodium hydroxide solutions… diluted LYE!

    This is one of the side effects of the shocking historically unprecedented effectiveness of antibiotics, room sized computers, missiles, jets, atom bombs, other ‘wonder drugs’, and overall science of the time period. People trusted the doctors and scientists without question, alternatives to anything ‘scientific’ was just scrubbed from the culture of the affluent west.

    This mentality said washing the disgusting biologyness of your body with terrible caustics, feeding the baby a formula(sounds chemical) designed by a scientist in a lab not disgusting nearly cannibalistic poor people human milk, and taking antibiotics for any sniffle was the smart modern thing to do.

  10. One thing that is amazing me about all the recent items on old-timey advertisements is how text-filled they are! I can’t imagine very many 2010 Americans starting, let alone finishing, a page of text like this. Were 1950s Americans more literate? Better attention spans? Fewer competing distractions?

  11. The really ironic thing, of course, is that a douched vagina actually smells worse than a free-range, natural one. This is because douching screws up the natural flora that live there. This is the same reason that antibiotics mess with your digestive system.

    1. No, the truly ironic part is that this whole ad is a euphemism for birth control. It kills sperm. That’s what they were marketing…

  12. I expect “soda” isn’t baking soda, but washing soda, a product most any woman would have had in her laundry room at the time: it’s sodium carbonate (rather than the sodium bicarbonate that’s baking soda), and was widely used as a laundry additive because it softens water (in the days before water softeners and laundry detergents), keeping the soap film from being deposited on clothing to grey and dull the fabric. It was used for other cleaning applications in the home, too.

    If that’s what the ad is referring to, then I hope the ladies using it diluted it a lot, because sodium carbonate is caustic at strength; a boiling solution of washing soda and water is used to remove the flesh from animal skulls for display.

  13. anon above I love: “The really ironic thing, of course, is that a douched vagina actually smells worse than a free-range, natural one”

    I think I will begin to add to my online dating profile: gemini, young professional, organic free-range vagina, enjoys browsing through natural meadow, looking startled when humans walk by at dusk and being picturesque.

  14. While working in a bookstore now nearly 20 years ago, well into the modern era, a woman of approximately the generation of the woman represented in the ad came to look for a book on “women’s bits”. She had *no idea* what she had going on *down there*, and finally wanted to inform herself.

    There really was a massive amount of ignorance about sexuality and body parts in the mid 20th century. And about Dave being in the closet… really sad, actually, as the damage still resonates.

  15. I wonder if anybody still has a copy of that booklet of “feminine hygiene facts” that Lysol was offering…

    I’m sure it would be a frightening read!

  16. Was this posted on BB a while ago? I remember seeing it… somewhere.
    The word dainty, or daintiness, is used three times in this ad. I’m going to start referring to my nastily undouched ladyparts as my “dainty”. Have you ever smelled liquid Lysol? I’m sure the formulation has changed over the years, but it is FOUULLLL stuff, kinda like how stinkbugs smell after they fry on a lightbulb. I can’t believe Lysol ever marketed itself as something to be used internally — try that today and you’d be sued by the dumbasses who didn’t read the directions and forgot to dilute. Advertisers put more trust in their audiences back then? An amazing ad all around.
    OOH! Let’s have a contest– solicit entries for faked vintage adverts. The more understatedly outrageous the better. Who’s in?

    1. I really think the blogger of BoingBoing don’t even follow their own blog. It seems like at least once a week one of the entries has already been posted before.

      1. Well, Boing Boing is written by a team of FOUR unique humans (who are only very rarely ina room togther)- plus usually a special guest blogger. Sometimes things are posted more than once. Its not something worth being offended by.

        1. Well, Boing Boing is written by a team of FOUR unique humans (who are only very rarely in a room together)- plus usually a special guest blogger.

          Actually, there are eight bloggers plus usually more than one guest blogger. And 72,116 posts since January 21, 2000.

      2. It seems like at least once a week one of the guests feels entitled to tell their hosts how to run their already awesome and successful thing

        fixed your thing.

  17. Five minutes later Jane’s patience had run out, “Please Dave… don’t let me be locked out from you… Damn it man what did I tell you about getting spare keys cut! I’m going back to John’s for the night and you can stay in that chastity belt and cuffs all night for all I care. Honestly you never listen to a word I say.”

  18. As a card-carrying misanthrope, I think everyone should periodically stop and ask themselves, “am I a disgusting, rotten c**t?”

    On a tangential note, I knew a couple whose marriage started to disintegrate because the husband never bothered to thoroughly soap his sack, but expected frequent oral sex. His wife wouldn’t talk to him about the problem – which was true for both of them, and for all their problems – just started to avoid him.

    Maybe he had really sensitive skin or something, and just needed an innovative product like this.

  19. Every time I see these adds I shudder. I can’t imagine how painful that would be.

    Nothing sexier than a woman who has to hold her breath and fight back tears as you push your way in to dry half-cauterized and irritated flesh :/

    I once tried douching with something like this because I’m an idiot from a part of the country where women were raised like this.

    It caused my urethra to bleed copiously and I spent a few days peeing blood.

    Ladies… we’ve come a long way.

  20. “Like soap, salt, or soda never can”
    Oh, you can scrub and scrub, and you can pour and lather, but if you want to have dainty feminine allure you need to BURN the stank out of it.

  21. According to Philip Wyle’s book “Generation of Vipers” the inherent message in all advertising aimed a women was: “Lady, are you a good lay?”

  22. I was under the impression that men in the 50s did not perform oral sex on women (or any foreplay for that matter, which must have made sex unpleasant for both parties), so really, how would “dave” even notice what a non-douched vag even smelled like?

  23. It’s my understanding that the actual use of Lysol was as a form of birth control. The smelling like a pine forest in your hooha was a secondary thing, but you couldn’t talk about the primary thing in such polite society.

  24. Found this letter kicking around the net from an 89 year old woman who used Lysol douches:

    “I’m going on 89 years YOUNG . . . LOL . . . and was very amused by the Lysol douche ad. I don’t know if I’m “still the girl my husband married” as I have pretty bad osteoarthritis (could it have been the Lysol?), but used Lysol as a douche and contraceptive ever since I married at age 17!! I had two children, both sons who turned out very well, in spite of the Lysol!! LOL

    It’s rather funny as I used it every day for many, many years because back in the early days, we didn’t have the “Pill” and Lysol was used after “the act” to prevent unwanted pregnancies by just about every lady I knew, including my mother and grandmother who had just ONE child each.

    Oh, well, we must have been TOUGH as I don’t recall any problems!! LOL. Just thought I’d drop a line as I got a big kick out of your site and the old info.



  25. IIRC, these adverts stem from a time when contraception (of any kind) was illegal in the USA: they’re trying to suggest to women that if they want to avoid pregnancy, they should douche after sex with Lysol. Read the copy: “…truly cleanses the vaginal canal, even in the presence of mucus matter”, the mention of doctors advice, the use of terms like “reliable” and “safeguard” etc etc. It’s all pretty obvious when you realise what’s actually being said.

    Needless to say, douching with disinfectant is not a very effective contraceptive, but given the lack of alternative options available to women at the time, companies were happy to be able to advertise ineffective products to them in such a conveniently deniable fashion.

    1. Well that certainly changes the message here:

      …the very source of objectionable odors is eliminated.

      ie: flush those little baby-makers out.

      1. I like your thinking chgoliz!

        (Although having gone through two small persons myself, I can attest that the smell is less objectionable than you’d think. Perhaps that only applies to parents though.)

        1. ???

          I was referring to the birth control aspect (flush out the sperm, prior to baby-making occurrence).

          FWIW, I am also a parent. They smell worse when they’re older!

  26. What strikes me about ads from that time is how wordy they are compared to today’s ads. Presumably people took the time to read the copy, which was written in very straight prose, not at all like today’s ads which use short phrases (and few of them).

  27. Thanks! I wasn’t sure how I was going to spend the afternoon. Now I know. I will spend it CROSSING MY LEGS AND SCREAMING.

  28. The America where the woman always must blame herself… this is the America that certain leaders of the GOP MISS??

  29. Why have hygiene when you can have NOXIOUS CHEMICAL DEATH BATH?

    Showering regularly gets rid of actually unpleasant body smells, but will still leave you smelling like a female human being instead of a cold, stainless steel countertop.

    But now, with NOXIOUS CHEMICAL DEATH BATH, your no-no place will smell like nothing at all, just like the love that’s left in your marriage!

  30. Delightfully disturbing. I am amused to note that the locks are on her side of the door. She done did it to herself. Dave doesn’t really enter the equation at all. She’s locking him out. Poor Dave probably never saw it coming, though he really should have. I am fascinated at how rapidly North American culture accepted, embraced in fact, the entire douche/douchebag/nozzle vernacular. Seems out of place in a supposedly PC era. Instead, wouldn’t calling someone an enema be far more acceptably less gender specific? I favor moving derisive insults away the the groin area entirely and thus in rare moments of anger I will call someone a dirthead.

  31. I think “douchebag” and its variants can be used as misogynistic insults, as in “ew vagina things.” However, I know many feminists (including myself) who use it because douchebags are, after all, awful and bad for women. It’s hard to imagine that most people who say “what a douche” mean to use it in the reclaimed fashion, but then again probably most people don’t think about it.

    Also, as someone who cares deeply about the topsoil I don’t think “dirthead” is a very appropriate insult either ;)

    1. I think “douchebag” and its variants can be used as misogynistic insults, as in “ew vagina things.”

      Yeah, only dickwads use terms like that.

  32. do you think this is one of Robbie’s auxiliary functions? Or does it promote rust?

  33. Were there any similar ads featuring products to battle mens’
    “foreskin” odor problems? Would Lysol have also worked there?

  34. Lysol is for wimps. You need to do it repeatedly for full effect. Muriatic acid is the “once and you are done with it” solution. Cleans up stains in the driveway, too.

  35. it’s easy to pour scorn on ignorant 1950’s house wives from your ultra modern continuous hot water, shower or two per day, antibacterial handwashing, every second kid has asthma, every third person has an autoimmune disease, antibiotics and antifungals are taken for-granted and superior in all things perspective. and has anyone ever smelt a truly rank crotch that you can’t cure. nah, probably not.

    1. “…and has anyone ever smelt a truly rank crotch that you can’t cure….”

      Yes, and it’s delicious!

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