Ajax (cleaning product)

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Ajax logo.svg
TypeCleaning agent
Inception1947; 72 years ago (1947)
(Ajax Laundry & Bleach owned by U.S. Nonwovens Corp.)

Ajax is a brand of cleaning products of Colgate-Palmolive.


Colgate-Palmolive introduced Ajax powdered cleanser in 1947 and was one of the company's first major brands.[1] The cleanser ingredients include sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate, sodium carbonate, and quartz.[2]

The Ajax name 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,[3] an ammoniated power floor cleaner (1943); a short-lived spray cleaner (1960); Ajax Laundry Detergent (1964); and Ajax Window Cleaner with Hex ammonia (1965). The last successful Ajax line extension in North America, Ajax for Dishes, debuted in 1971; now known as Ajax Dishwashing Liquid, it and the flagship powdered cleanser are the only two Ajax products sold to consumers by Colgate in the United States.

The brand name continues on a line of industrial detergents, cleaners and disinfectants.[4] Colgate-Palmolive Company sold United States and Canadian rights to the Ajax brand name on laundry detergents, as well as to other laundry products as Fab and Cold Power, to Phoenix Brands in 2005. Ajax Laundry Detergent was available in a liquid formula, with or without bleach, beginning in the middle of the 1980s.

In the Philippines, Ajax became the popular detergent brand in the market from the 1960s until its discontinuation in the year 2000 due to the major popularity of two largest rival detergent brands in the Philippine market today, Surf of Unilever and Tide of Procter & Gamble. Three Ajax Spray n' Wipe products (an all purpose cleaner, a bathroom cleaner, and a window cleaner), well known in Australia and New Zealand, are among market leaders.[5]

When Ajax was first released in 1947, the commercial for the product was produced by Shamus Culhane.

Etymology of name[edit]

Ajax bleach container from Mexico; "Bicloro" means "Double Bleach"

The original Ajax powder slogan 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!" which may be a pun[according to whom?] on "Greece."[6][not in citation given] Another early slogan was "Ajax... the foaming cleanser!"

Advertising and other popular culture references[edit]

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.[7] 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.[8]

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. The late comedian and Blanca's co star Dolphy was the final brand ambassador of Ajax detergent from 1994 until 1998.

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.[9]

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. ^ The History of Soaps and Detergents, About.com
  2. ^ Product Name: Ajax Scouring Cleanser. Household Products Database. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. ^ "The House Of Ajax".
  4. ^ Ajax products page at Colgate Commercial
  5. ^ Home care in New Zealand, Euromonitor report, July 2010. "Ranked second was Colgate-Palmolive holding 20% value share, with its leading surface care brand Ajax." Retrieved 2011-04-27
  6. ^ "AJAX® - Dish liquid". Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  7. ^ Myrna Oliver (2004-08-02). "Obituaries; Eugene Roche, 75; Character Actor in Films, Television". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ Axe looms over AJAX as Colgate ditches support, Marketing Week, 19 Jan 1996. Retrieved 2011-04-27
  9. ^ "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