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Rinso giveaway at a Wellington store opening with Sir Edmund Hillary (left) and Selwyn Toogood (right), 1956.

Rinso is the brand name of a laundry soap marketed by Unilever. It is used in Australia, Indonesia, Chile, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.[citation needed] The brand was created by Robert S Hudson and originally branded Hudson's Soap, which was sold to Lever Brothers of Port Sunlight, England, in 1908.[1] It was also manufactured by the Lever Brothers Company (later known as Unilever) in the United States, starting in 1918.


A 1910s advertisement for Hudson's Soap

Rinso was one of the first mass-marketed soap powders. It was advertised widely on United States radio, being the sponsor of many radio programs such as the popular daytime soap opera Big Sister from 1936 to 1946, the dramatic anthology Grand Central Station from 1940 to 1942, the night-time programs Big Town from 1937 to 1942, Mayor of the Town from 1942 to 1943, and most notably The Amos 'n' Andy Show from 1943 to 1950. During this time the product's advertisements happily chanted the slogan "Rinso white, Rinso bright" and boasted that Rinso contained "Solium, the sunlight ingredient".

The product's claim to better rinsing was due to its incorporation of sodium silicate as a builder rather than, or in addition to, the more commonly used sodium carbonate. The precipitate formed by metasilicate and calcium tends to be finer and hence less likely to be trapped in cloth than the chalky calcium carbonate.

In the 1950s, sales plummeted when a new detergent, Tide, manufactured by rival Procter & Gamble, proved to be much more popular. Rinso was revamped in the early 1950s as a true detergent, with a bluing agent, and was rebranded as Rinso Blue, to differentiate it from the still available Rinso White which was still a soap, and had different packaging. By the mid-1960s the soap variation was discontinued; the detergent variation was again reformulated, and given a new name, Sunshine Rinso. The justification for the name change was that the new and improved Rinso now had "sunshine whiteners".

There was heavy ad backing (for example, a heavily played commercial during this time period was a pop version of a Sunshine Rinso jingle, set to You Are My Sunshine). Sales did not improve appreciably, and Rinso eventually disappeared from store shelves by the mid-1970s, although the liquid detergent Rinso Blue could still be seen on U.S. shelves as recently as the late 1980s.

Rinso was, in effect, replaced with another Unilever detergent, Surf, in its four major markets. However, Rinso is still being made by Unilever for the Turkish, Asian, and Central American markets.

In 1953, it was the first laundry soap brand ever launched in Brazil. Despite being out of production in the country for decades, "rinso" is still a slang for "laundry soap" in some areas in the South of Brazil.

In 1992, the Southern California-based 99 Cents Only Stores purchased the rights[2] to the name "Rinso" from Unilever for use in the United States. Rinso brand cleaning supplies are now prominently displayed in their stores.

Rinso was launched in Indonesia as the nation's first detergent brand. Today, Rinso is the number one leader in the Indonesian detergent market.[3]

In pop culture[edit]

In the musical Hair, it is mentioned in the song "I'm Black/Ain't Got No".

In the 1970 motion picture Watermelon Man, "Rinso white" is mentioned as Jeff Gerber attempts to wash the "blackness" off of him.

"Rinso White" is sung, or rather screamed, in the Spike Jones version of Liebesträume.

Rinso was the sponsor of the 1957 Australian television series Leave It to the Girls.[4]

In Agent Carter season 2 episode 10, Howard Stark compliments one of the SSR agents on her perfume, and is told that it's Rinso.


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