What is the new laundry habit created by Lion, a laundry detergent manufacturer for over 100 years?

At Lion, we are continually striving to propose new habits that go one step further while constantly grasping changes in the social environment and consumer lifestyles. Bright STRONG Refreshing Clothing Shower, a prewash stain removal laundry detergent, is one of such examples. The product proposes a new laundry habit—just apply and leave to improve the effectiveness of stain removal when washing later. The team that came up with this idea talked about the technology and ingenuity that went into this product.

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Product Introduction

“I’m worried about this stain, but I can’t do laundry right now…” Bright STRONG Refreshing Clothing Shower; Prewash Detergent Turns “Leave it” into an Advantage

When clothes gets dirty, but you cannot wash it immediately, just apply this prewash detergent and leave it. Later wash it as usual when anytime you like. Then stain is effectively removed from clothes.

The bottle has a nozzle that mimics of shower type, and is designed to apply the detergent directly to stains. Therefore it enables flexible use from a spot stains like food spills to larger stains like those on masks and bibs. With Bright STRONG Refreshing Clothing Shower, Lion proposes a new habit for when you can’t do laundry immediately: simply apply the prewash detergent and leave it.*

*After applying product and leave, always wash clothes every time.


Apply the Prewash Detergent and Leave It, Then Go to the Washing Machine When You Want The Elements Necessary to Proposal a New Laundry Habit

Technical development goals are defined through active discussion.

With the increase in the number of dual-income households and single-person households, the laundry situation are becoming more diverse. Many people are unable to wash soiled clothes immediately, or prefer to do larger loads on weekends.

 Analyzing the results of a consumer survey conducted by Lion, the development team noticed that some people were dissatisfied with the removal of stains from their clothing using only their usual detergent. In addition, some consumers complained that conventional prewash treatments containing detergent or bleach could only be applied immediately before washing the clothes in the washing machine. Still others felt that requiring the user to match the right product and application method to the type of stain and clothing required too much effort.

 To solve these problems, the marketing division and the research and development team worked together, holding numerous discussions as they sought prewash detergent usage and washing methods that could resolve these laundry complaints. Finally, they arrived at a development concept: a prewash detergent that offers “great stain removal performance and “ease of use without worrying about type of stain and timing of use”. In other words, they aimed to propose a new laundry habit of just applying the prewash detergent to a stain and leaving it for later.

 Researcher Tomomi Oguma looks back on this time, noting, “At the beginning of development, we didn’t have a clear idea of how the product would work, so we moved forward, taking our experimenting in various directions to realize the concept. It was challenging, but I was very excited to be trying to create something new and unprecedented, and it was probably the most fun I have ever had in development.”

 Thus, they began the development of a completely new prewash detergent for laundry that combines three essential elements to realize a washing method that will satisfy consumers: 1. high detergency against a wide variety of stains, 2. trouble-free performance, when used in a new way, i.e., applying and leaving it for later, and 3. an easy-to-use bottle.

The Key to Apply Long Before Washing is Prevention of Solidifying

Stain removal testing is conducted on clothing with actual food stains, such as curry.

The first step in realizing an unprecedented type of prewash detergent for laundry was to develop a formula with high detergency against a wide variety of stains.

 “The development of the formula was quite a challenge,” Oguma recalls. “We screened many materials, some of them were not used before in laundry detergents, and studied hundreds of different combinations. We also made models of a wide variety of stains, such as grime on collars and sleeve cuffs, food spills, mud and foundation. We then applied existing technologies to develop a new formula that can handle a variety of stains.”

 Conventional prewash detergents and bleaches are supposed to be applied to the stain immediately before washing; they are not intended to be left on for long periods of time. Therefore, we studied a new way of using a prewash detergent for laundry—applying it and then leaving it. Since this was the first time to propose such usage in Lion, the evaluations of performance were conducted by assuming a wide range of usage scenarios for a wide range of consumers and identifying possible risks.

 Researcher Shinichi Hanada, who was in charge of designing the evaluation method, talks about the difficulties of the process, saying, “Our team established evaluation method to satisfy conceivable usage scenarios, and then examined them one by one. These scenarios covered a wide range of possible variables, such as all the different places where consumers might leave clothing after application, like in a laundry basket or in the washing machine, as well as how long the clothes might be left for. Specifically, we collected temperature and humidity data for each scenario, such as when there is a lot or a little laundry, when the laundry is wet, or when it is left in closed container, and used this information to design evaluation methods. It is an essential base-line quality that a product can be used and function properly in a variety of real-life situations, but it was very difficult to verify.”

Verifying the cleaning power of the prototypes using various types of washing machine

In developing the technology, new points to consider also emerged, explained researcher Hirotsugu Ogura. “Conventional prewash detergent for laundry is recommended for application immediately before washing, since stains might spread over time and the product itself becomes more difficult to remove if left too long. We consider that this is due to the fact that the prewash detergent solidifies and gets stuck to the clothing along with the stain. To realize the new usage such as apply it and leave for a long time, finding the solution to this problem became a key issue in the formula development.”

 The key ingredient we arrived at to solve this quandary was glycerin.

 Oguma continued, “Looking at previous study results led us to glycerin, an ingredient not often used in laundry care. At Lion, glycerin is mainly utilized in skin care products for its moisturizing properties. We found that glycerin prevents both stains and detergent from sticking to the clothing surface even if the detergent is left on the fabric for long periods of time and it led to improve detergency. This experience reinforced my awareness of the critical importance of adopting a broad perspective when developing new formulas.”

 Recently, consumers have become increasingly hygiene-related demand, and eliminating bacteria and viruses from clothing and masks has become a point of great interest. Therefore, we took on the challenge of adding not only stain removal performance, but also eliminating bacteria and virus performance. Researcher Masashi Tachikawa started performance-visualization-study in order to make this product more convincing to use.

 Tachikawa explains, “Since bacteria and virus elimination performance isn’t visible, we considered that it was important to clearly demonstrate these functions in real-life situations in a way that consumers could see and understand. For example, we evaluated the antibacterial performance on socks, which are considered to have the largest amount of bacteria of all clothing after being worn. By culturing bacteria from socks that we ourselves actually wore, the researchers were able to visualize the effect of suppressing the growth of bacteria, contrasting the sample treated with this product or not.”

Model experiment for eliminating bacteria. Two pieces were cut from a sock that had been worn. The product was applied to one. Each piece of sock was cultured on an agar medium for 24 hours (static culture).

Based on consumer needs, the team established a cleaning technology with high detergency that worked by applying and leaving it. This technology was the basis for the development of the prewash detergent for laundry Bright STRONG Refreshing Clothing Shower, making possible a new way of doing laundry: simply applying a prewash detergent to a stain and leaving it for later.

The Secret to Ease of Use: The Shower-Type Bottle

The original shower-type bottle can be applied to small or large areas, depending on the way it is used.

Laundry is one of our most frequent household chores, a deeply familiar and engrained part of our living habits. The development team believed that in order to propose a new habit, it was important to make the product easier and more intuitive to use.

 The team came up with the concept of a bottle that would enable the user to easily treat any kind of stain. After repeated discussions with the marketing and container development departments, a bottle with a shower nozzle was selected from among many ideas.

 Hanada was in charge of the initial bottle prototype production. He recalls, “This was the first time that a shower-type bottle had been considered for our fabric care products, so we put various ideas into the design. In terms of safety, we put a drip-prevention valve inside the cap to reduce the risk of liquid dripping. The design can also handle a range of stain sizes: held closer to the clothing, it can be applied to a small stain; held further away, it showers over a wider area.”

 He explained that the hinged cap, which is widely used for cooking ingredient bottles, allows the lid to be opened with one hand, and the soft bottle allows the flow to be controlled by the force of the user’s grip. Every detail was carefully considered for the best possible user experience.

 Along with the development of the bottle, the formula of the detergent also required ingenuity. Hanada comments, “We had this idea for a shower-type bottle, but it was actually quite difficult to make the liquid come showering out. Unlike water, detergent contains surfactants, so which tend to gather and make it difficult to disperse into a shower the liquid. We studied both the detergent formula and the bottle, and found a combination that would allow the product to be dispensed in a shower even with surfactants in the formula.”

To Create New Products, It is Essential to Think Through Consumer Behavior and to Update the Process of Doing Until Now

Developing products for a variety of stains, including food stains and grime on the collar and sleeves.

In addition to the visual demonstration of the product’s bacteria and virus elimination performance, Tachikawa said there was another episode that stood out to him.

 He explains, “I was also impressed by user testing, in which we asked people to use prototypes in their everyday lives. Since the Bright STRONG Refreshing Clothing Shower offers a new way of use, we were concerned about whether or not the method of applying and leaving it would become a habit, and whether the benefits of making it part of the laundry routine would be understood. However, once they actually used the prototype, we received feedback that they found it easy and effective, which gave us confidence. Some people said that their children enjoyed using it with them, and that even family members who were used to just taking off their clothes and putting them in the laundry basket found it easy to use. Even people who had never before done their own laundry before were using it, so we saw the value of the spread of housework that we had not anticipated.”

 Ogura adds, “When improving an existing product, the usage of the product does not change significantly. In contrast, to develop a product that offers new behaviors and habits, it is necessary to comprehensively envision the diverse daily living scenarios, needs and even risks. In the development of this product, every member of the team worked together to think from the consumer’s point of view, so we can propose a new laundry habit that had never been seen before.”

 Responding to their comments, Oguma concludes, “It is important to show both internally and externally how the design and features will improve daily living. Because this was a totally new type of product, as a researcher, I really felt the importance, of the process of developing the design, functions, and performance into a form that can be used in the hand, while involving the entire company in the development process. I hope to continue to actively participate in the development of products that improve daily living.”

 Lion’s research and development will continue to propose new value in household activities that are normally taken for granted. What we want to realize is to contribute to people’s daily lives by creating better lifestyle habits. With this mission in mind, our research and development activities continue today.


Affiliations are as of the time of the interview. (Interviewed May 2022)

Development Leader Oguma
With experience in basic technology research, she has been developing fabric care products.
Development Leader Ogura
With many years of experience in developing fabric care products, he is currently in charge of strategic planning for overall research and development.
Researcher Tachikawa
With experience in developing fabric care products, he develops beauty care product for overseas markets.
Researcher Hanada
With experience in developing fabric care products, he develops packaging and containers.