In 1943 when Harry Apple started Sanitary Maintenance, janitorial supply “jobbers” were on their own for information. The best way to learn about industry trends, new products or what their peers were up to, was to travel the country or attend the National Sanitary Supply Association convention (assuming distributors were members). 

The few magazines that were around at the time focused on specific niches such as brooms and brushes or soaps. Apple — thanks to his experience then serving as NSSA secretary — recognized the lack of a cohesive, singular publication for jan/san distributors that addressed a wide variety of product categories and business best practices. Sanitary Maintenance was launched to fill that gap. 

“The purpose of this magazine will be to bring to the attention of distributors the various new products, which from time to time come into the market. It will carry articles explaining how some distributors are doing a particular job better than other distributors…Every phase of your business should be covered in a manner to educate your salesmen,” said Apple in his NSSA secretary address at the 1943 convention. 

Over the next 70 years, the industry would flourish. Yes, there would be economic hardships, strict legislation and changes in major players. But while it may have buckled, the industry admiringly never broke. It merely adjusted with the changing times, allowing for product innovations and more professional attitudes and companies. And Sanitary Maintenance was there to cover it all. 

Here, we present a look back at the history of the cleaning industry, coupled with major milestones of its original publication, Sanitary Maintenance. 

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1940s: Cleaning During And After World War II