The story of Toilet Duck and Durgol is the story of a family that exemplifies Swiss know-how and willingness to try new ideas. It’s a story that begins with Maria Düring-Keller, joined later by her son Walter Düring and daughter-in-law Vera Düring. It’s a story about a problem, an innovative solution, and creative and successful marketing. It’s a story that has resulted in a globally recognized brand.

“That so many Swiss brands have conquered the world is thanks not to industrial might but to technological know-how… Although Switzerland might be small, it thinks big in terms of research and development. … Maybe knowing that their society and economy are so stable gives them the impetus to try new ideas.” 

  • Diccon Bewes, Swiss Watching; Inside the Land of Milk and Money

The History of Innovation at Durgol 

Swiss entrepreneur Maria Düring-Keller was dissatisfied with the cleaning products available in her home in the late 1940’s. She lived north of Zurich, Switzerland. The cleaning products of her day did not remove the limescale which caked plumbing in her region due to the hard water there. Keller decided to do something about the problem herself. She invented her own formula which effectively removed calcium deposits from toilets and other plumbing fixtures without damaging surfaces or weakening seals. When she was satisfied that it worked well, she began to market her invention. The company legend describes her as going door to door demonstrating her product, even cleaning prospective customers’ toilets while still wearing her hat and veil. Her product, durgol, was a success. Her company still operates exclusively out of Dällikon, Switzerland under the name Düring ag. Today, Düring ag employs about 40 people and sells descaling products world-wide, and is headed by Maria’s three grandchildren. 

Düring ag has kept up with the times and continues to contribute substantially to the Swiss economy. In their plant in Dällikon, they manufacture basic cleaning formulas for kitchens and bathrooms, as well as their universal descaling formula. In addition, they have developed descaling products especially effective for modern devices such as coffee makers, kettles, and steam cleaners. They use only Swiss ingredients to make their biodegradable products. Even the bottles for their products are made in Switzerland. 

Duck Toilet Cleaner

Toilet Duck cleaner, or WC-ENTE, was another of durgol’s innovative successes. The toilet cleaning formula inside the innovative bottle was invented by Vera Düring, a druggist, and the novel dispensing bottle itself was designed by her husband, Walter. Walter joined his mother at durgol in the 1960’s. In the 1980’s he invented and patented a new type of bottle that could deliver a cleaning product to any nook of a toilet, no matter how the bottle was held. This effective delivery was due to the bottle’s unique curved neck. Not only did the design of the bottle allow the product to be sprayed at any angle; it also did not require major re-tooling of machinery at bottling plants. Toilet Duck became a well-known household product because of its novel dispensing bottle.

Walter Düring sold the patent to SC Johnson and Son in 2008. Toilet Duck remains on the market under SC Johnson & Son’s ‘Scrubbing Bubbles’ brand. Toilet Duck is available in many countries around the world under different names, all of which refer to the duck-like shape of the bottle’s neck and red cap. The word “toilet” has been dropped from the name in some regions where the product is sold, leaving it simply called ‘Duck’. But it’s always recognizable because of the unique and effective design of the bottle.

Taking Inspiration from Durgol

The story of Maria Düring-Keller and members of her family is a satisfying one. People who

give serious thought to minor problems can succeed in surprising ways. The Dürings sought and found solutions that are extending the functionality of machines and improving the lives of people all over the world. Surprising successes can arise when creative minds consider seemingly small issues. 

Durgol proves that successful brands start by solving a problem. Today’s researchers and scientists are innovators, solving problems around the world, building great companies and making life better for consumers. If your company needs the talent to spark a new generation of innovation, contact grapefrute today.

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