Where Swarfega Began
The iconic, classic green gel was first invented by the Belper-based chemist Audley Bowdler Williamson in 1947. Since then, the Swarfega brand has grown to a range of over 40 specialist cleaning products from hand cleansers to surface cleaners, and remains as popular as ever. All Swarfega products have been carefully formulated to perform to the highest standard and that they remain first choice among users.
Not many people know that the first product invented by AB Williamson was called 'Deb', a silkware protector. Intended to prevent them from laddering, the mild solution was applicable for hand-washing silk stockings.
During the war silk was used primarily in parachute production. This, coupled with the introduction of nylon to the British market by the Americans, destroyed/decimated the silk stocking market and with it the need for 'Deb', the silkware protector.
AB Williamson was inspired by memories of motor fitters suffering from cracked skin and dermatitis through washing their hands with petrol, paraffin and sand. 'Deb' was reformulated to a skin cleaner which would remove engine oils and grease whilst leaving the skin’s natural oils intact.
Swarfega was the first hand cleaner of its type in the world. The name derives from “swarf”, being the old Derbyshire engineering term for oil and grease and “ega”, as in “eager to clean”. Swarfega quickly established itself as a popular choice in the 1940's and 50's with mechanics and more, who had been left with traditional tablet soaps. And so the market for specialist hand cleansers was established with Deb leading the way.
In its early days Swarfega could be found in establishments such as garages, chemists and even barber shops. The brand has since grown from strength to strength and remains as popular as ever due to its expanding product range and consistent high performance.