Ajax (cleaning product)

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Ajax logo.svg
TypeCleaning agent
Inception1947 Edit this on Wikidata

Ajax is a brand of household cleaning products made by Colgate-Palmolive. The brand is also licensed by Colgate-Palmolive to Phoenix Brands LLC for laundry detergents in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.[1]


Container of Ajax powder from Mexico; bicloro means 'double bleach'

Colgate-Palmolive introduced Ajax Powdered Cleanser in 1947 as one of the company's first major brands.[2] The cleanser ingredients include sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate, sodium carbonate, and quartz.[3]

The Ajax brand was extended to a line of household cleaning products and detergents which enjoyed its greatest success in the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s. Ajax All-Purpose Cleaner with Ammonia, introduced in 1962, was the first major competitor to Procter and Gamble's Mr. Clean (debuted 1958). Ajax's success as the so called "White Tornado" forced Procter and Gamble to introduce its own ammoniated cleaner, Top Job, in 1963. Other Ajax products included Ajax Bucket of Power, an ammoniated power floor cleaner (1963); Ajax Laundry Detergent (1964); and Ajax Window Cleaner with Hex ammonia (1965). The last successful Ajax line extension in North America, Ajax for Dishes (now known as Ajax Dishwashing Liquid) debuted in 1971.

Currently, Ajax Powdered Cleanser and Ajax Dishwashing Liquid are the only two Ajax products currently sold by Colgate in the United States. In 2005, Colgate licensed the American and Canadian rights to the Ajax brand name for laundry detergents. In the same transaction, Colgate also sold its American, Canadian and Puerto Rican laundry products business to Phoenix Brands in 2005. Fab-KIND Co. currently distributes Ajax and former C-P laundry detergent brands Fab and Dynamo in the US.[4]

Advertising and popular culture[edit]

When Ajax was introduced in 1947, the commercial for the product was produced by Shamus Culhane.[citation needed]

The slogan for the original Ajax scrubbing powder was "Stronger than dirt!", a reference to the muscular hero Ajax of Greek mythology. Some Ajax dish soaps now feature the trademarked slogan "Stronger than grease!"[5][failed verification] Another early slogan was "Ajax... the foaming cleanser!"

The first slogan was used again for Ajax Laundry Detergent when introduced in the beginning of the 1960s, advertised with an armed knight riding a white horse. At the end of the Doors song "Touch Me", Jim Morrison says the slogan "Stronger Than Dirt". A widely mocked commercial in the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s declared, "Armed... with AJAX!"

American actor Eugene Roche gained household fame as AJAX man, "Squeaky Clean", in many television commercials of the 1970s.[6] In the United Kingdom, character actress Ann Lancaster appeared on television advertisements featuring the slogan, "It cleans like a white tornado". Colgate ceased advertising in the United Kingdom for the brand in January 1996.[7]

In the Philippines, veteran actress Lorli Villanueva appeared in television commercials, featuring her character as "Maxima Labandera" in the 1970s. The late actress Nida Blanca featured in Ajax detergent commercials from 1988 to 1992. Blanca's frequent co-star Dolphy was the final brand ambassador of Ajax detergent from 1994 until the product's discontinuation in 2000.

In Australia, Ajax Spray n' Wipe television commercials appeared around 1988 to 2010, all with the same music, based on Ian Dury's song "Billericay Dickie". The ads featured soap opera actress Paula Duncan and the same family members.[8]

The 1978 film Up In Smoke contains a memorable scene where a woman snorts Ajax after mistaking it for cocaine (it had been inadvertently spilled onto a mirror by the character played by Tommy Chong), suffering prolonged agonies as a result.

It is featured in Carrie Underwood's song, "Dirty Laundry".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Colgate-Palmolive Sells Detergents to Phoenix Brands". PROMO Magazine. July 13, 2005. Archived from the original on January 30, 2009. Retrieved 2019-03-24.
  2. ^ The History of Soaps and Detergents, About.com
  3. ^ Product Name: Ajax Scouring Cleanser. Household Products Database. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  4. ^ "Colgate-Palmolive sells detergent brands". Associated Press. July 12, 2005. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  5. ^ "AJAX® - Dish liquid". Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  6. ^ Myrna Oliver (2004-08-02). "Obituaries; Eugene Roche, 75; Character Actor in Films, Television". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ Axe looms over AJAX as Colgate ditches support, Marketing Week, 19 Jan 1996. Retrieved 2011-04-27
  8. ^ "Ajax jingle to return with Paula Duncan reprising character of frantic housewife". Mumbrella. Retrieved 17 December 2015.

External links[edit]

  • Ajax product page on Colgate consumer website