WTF Fun Fact 13024 – The Original Kleenex Gas Mask Filter

What we now know as Kleenex tissues were originally designed to be gas mask filters. The original kleenex gas mask filter wasn’t nearly as soft and gentle as our current tissues though.

Kleenex’s original purpose for gas masks

According to the Kimberly-Clark website (cited below):

“The Kleenex® Brand’s story began during the First World War when Kimberly-Clark developed a crepe paper used as a filter within gas masks.”

However, the material wasn’t fully developed by the time the war ended, so the company pivoted into developing soft and smooth facial tissues. They were so popular that today that the words “Kleenex” and tissue are often used interchangeably.

However, there is a chapter in between the gas masks and tissues, according to Kimberly-Clark:

“In the early 1920’s, that very crepe paper innovation was cleverly adapted into a consumer product called Kotex® Brand which helped women with their periods.”

In 1924, the tissues hit shelves in the US as a cold cream and makeup remover.

From gas mask to facial tissue

It wasn’t until 1929 that “Kimberly-Clark’s head researcher was suffering from hay fever and started using the tissues in place of his handkerchief.” A tweak to the marketing to encourage people to use them for their noses doubled sales in the first year.

Of course, it’s much more sustainable to use a handkerchief than a disposable tissue, but it would be many decades before the environmental toll of disposable products became clear to the public.

Today, Kleenex is still the most popular brand of tissue used in the U.S. by far. In 2020, 170.79 million Americans reported using Kleenex brand tissues.

The tissues are also available in 150 countries throughout the world. In addition to facial tissue, Kleenex also makes bathroom tissue, paper towels, tampons, and diapers.  WTF fun facts

Source: “The Tale of Kleenex®” — Kleenex UK official website