Laundry detergent is used in millions of households around the world to remove soils and stains from fabrics. Although soap has been used since ancient times to wash laundry, the first commercial detergents were not produced for household use until just after World War II. In the following years, the production of laundry detergent grew rapidly into a worldwide industry, mature in developed countries, but still expanding in developing regions. By the mid-1990s, the industry had become extremely competitive. The primary method available to manufacturers to gain market share was the introduction of new or reformulated products. Manufacturers competed primarily on performance, cost, and environmental attributes.