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When Life Gives You Lemons

In our continuing series on African American inventors in the cleaning and janitorial arena, let’s take a moment to shine the spotlight on Dennis Weatherby, a chemist born in Alabama in 1960 who, at the age of 27, led the team at Proctor & Gamble to create automatic dishwasher detergent, commercially known as Cascade. He received the patent in 1987. Before that, any dyes used in products created stains, and nobody wants dishes or clothes that look like they’ve been peed upon. Nobody.

Having received a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Central State University in Ohio and a Masters in chemical engineering, Weatherby worked for Proctor and Gamble as a process engineer. He created the lemon-scented detergent using dyes that could be used in products that contained bleach and surprisingly didn’t stain. He also worked at the Whittaker Corporation.

In his later years, Weatherby segued into academics, increasing African American participation in STEM studies and mentoring minority students. He became an assistant professor of water quality management at his alma mater, Central State University and then Director of the minority engineering program at Auburn University before decamping to Northern Kentucky where he died at age 47 in 2007 due to a blood clot that travelled to his brain.

Today, Cascade is one of the marquee brands in Proctor & Gamble’s annual $76 billion portfolio.

PopUP CleanUP is a female and black owned small business that offers event cleaning services.

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