Sani Flush

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Sani-Flush was a brand of crystal toilet bowl cleaner formerly produced by Reckitt Benckiser. Its main ingredient was sodium bisulfate; it also contained sodium carbonate as well as sodium lauryl sulfate, talc, sodium chloride, fragrance and dye.

When sodium bisulfate is mixed with water, a highly-corrosive sulphuric acid is produced, which dissolves accumulated minerals such as iron, magnesium and calcium from the bowl.[1]

Due to environmental concerns, the product has been discontinued; by 2013 its last original US trademark was cancelled or allowed to expire.[2]


Sani-Flush was introduced by the Hygenic Products Company of Chicago, Illinois in 1911 as a toilet bowl cleaner; since 1922 it had also been promoted[3] for flushing "rust, scale and sludge" from automobile radiators.[4] Advertisements from the 1920s onward depicted a housewife in an apron using the product to disinfect the bowl and remove odours; it "cleans closet bowls without scouring"[5] with "no drudgery whatsovever".[6]

The brand was sold to American Home Products; that company's subsidiary Boyle-Midway was sold to Reckitt & Colman (now Reckitt Benckiser) in 1990. The primary direct competitor to Sani-Flush was Vanish, a brand of toilet cleaning crystals marketed in the US by the SC Johnson Company.

Widely stocked in grocery and hardware stores, the product was a well-known household name and occasionally mentioned in children's jokes like "If Santa gets stuck in your chimney, use Santa Flush" and the apocryphal advertising slogan "Sani-Flush, Sani-Flush, cleans your teeth without a brush. All you do is pour it on; one, two, three, your teeth are gone."[7] A strongly corrosive product, Sani-Flush was kept out of the reach of children as sodium bisulfate mixed with water produces sulphuric acid. Mixing Sani-Flush (as acid) with a caustic alkaline drain cleaner (such as Drāno or Liquid-Plumr) can be deadly.[8] Likewise, mixing Sani-Flush with bleach releases poisonous gas; on April 8, 1964 a Winn-Dixie food store in St. Petersburg, Florida was evacuated and eleven people hospitalised.[9]

Sani-Flush is mentioned several times in William S. Burroughs' novel Naked Lunch, where the product is used to "cut" (dilute) cocaine or where it is substituted for morphine by a pharmacist.[10]

The original product quietly disappeared from store shelves circa-2009; the US trademark was cancelled in 2013. Unlike rival Vanish, whose mark now serves to market other formats of toilet cleaner from the same manufacturer, the Sani-Flush name in the US was simply abandoned. "Sani-Flush"[11] and "Sani-Flush Puck"[12] retain their registered trademark status in Canada, but refer to a different toilet cleaner.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Karen Logan (1997-04-01). Clean House, Clean Planet. ISBN 9780671535957. Retrieved 2014-07-24. 
  2. ^ US trademark search on shows all marks expired or held by unrelated, non-manufacturing entities.
  3. ^ The Trade-mark Reporter. 1952. Retrieved 2014-07-24. 
  4. ^ "Popular Mechanics advertisement (run during much of the 1930s and 1940s) for Sani-Flush as automotive radiator cleaner". Retrieved 2014-07-24. 
  5. ^ Jessamyn Neuhaus (2011-11-08). Housework and Housewives in American Advertising: Married to the Mop. ISBN 9780230337978. Retrieved 2014-07-24. 
  6. ^ Daniel Delis Hill (2002-01-01). Advertising to the American Woman, 1900-1999. ISBN 9780814208908. Retrieved 2014-07-24. 
  7. ^ R. Gerald Alvey (1989). Kentucky Folklore. ISBN 0813109027. Retrieved 2014-07-24. 
  8. ^ In Goins v. Clorox Company, (926 F2d 559), the estate of an end user who poured Drano (by Bristol-Myers), Liquid Plumr (by Clorox) and Sani-Flush (by Boyle-Midway) into the same clogged drain unsuccessfully attempted to sue Clorox Corporation and Boyle-Midway, but failed to prove the warnings on the products were inadequate.
  9. ^ 11 persons overcome by toxic gas fumes, St. Petersburg Times - Apr 9, 1964
  10. ^ Burroughs, William S. "Dr Benway Operates". "Naked Lunch". Retrieved 2 August 2011. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ SANI-FLUSH® Auto - Regular with Lysol® retains the historic trademark in Canada, but differs in chemical composition and application.

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