Windex is a trademark for a glass and hard surface cleaner manufactured since 1933. SC Johnson acquired Windex in 1993 and has been manufacturing it since that time. The product was recently reformulated with more environmentally-desirable solvents.
Windex-like products typically contain detergents, ammonia, fragrance to moderate the odor of ammonia, and some form of dye. The original modern Windex was colored a light, transparent shade of blue, but varieties are marketed today in a variety of colors (ocean fresh blue, sunshine lemon & citrus orange) and fragrances (spring bouquet, ocean mist, lavender and tea tree), touting additives such as vinegar, lemon, lime, or orange juice.
When Windex was invented in 1933 by Harry R. Drackett, it was essentially 100% solvent, and as a flammable product, it had to be sold in metal cans. When modern surfactants were introduced after World War II, the product was reformulated.
The Sam Wise patent #3,463,735 lists several example formulae, one of which is 4.0% isopropyl alcohol (a highly volatile solvent) 1% ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (a less volatile solvent), 0.1% sodium lauryl sulfate (a surfactant), 0.01% tetrasodium pyrophosphate (a water softener), 0.05% of 28% ammonia, 1% of a dye solution, and 0.01% perfume. This formula was not only significantly less expensive to manufacture, but allowed the product to be packaged in glass bottles and dispensed with a plastic sprayer.
Popular culture reference
The popularity of Windex in the US has led to the generic use of the trademark for similar product, including those marketed under different brands Window Cleaner.
The blue-green color has inspired bartenders to name similarly tinted mixed drinks after it. For example, a "Windex shot" typically contains vodka, triple sec, and Blue Curaçao for color.
The comedy film My Big Fat Greek Wedding presented Windex as a placebo or folk remedy for external use against most non-disabling ailments. When character Gus Portokalos is confronted with any skin ailment, he says, "Put some Windex." This parallels an actual folk belief in similar use of the WD-40 brand of penetrating oil.
Singer Mariah Carey mentions this product in her hit-single, "Obsessed" in a line which says "Seeing right through you like you're bathing in Windex".
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