Spic and Span

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Spic 'n' Span
SpicNSpan logo.png
Product typeHousehold cleaner
OwnerKIK Custom Products Inc.
CountryUnited States
Introduced1933; 88 years ago (1933)
Previous ownersProcter & Gamble, Prestige Brands

Spic and Span is a brand of all-purpose household cleaner marketed by KIK Custom Products Inc. for home consumer use and by Procter & Gamble for professional (non-home-consumer) use.


The phrase "span-new" meant as new as a freshly cut wood chip, such as those once used to make spoons. In a metaphor dating from at least 1300, something span-new was neat and unstained.[1]

Spic was added in the 16th century, as a "spick" (a spike or nail) was another metaphor for something neat and trim. The British phrase may have evolved from the Dutch spiksplinter nieuw, "spike-splinter new".[2] In 1665, Samuel Pepys used spicke and span in his famous diary. The "clean" sense appears to have arisen only recently.[3] The term is completely unrelated to the modern epithet "spic".[1]


1948 advertisement for the product.

On June 15, 1926, Whistle Bottling Company of Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania, registered "Spic and Span" trademark No. 214,076 — washing and cleaning compound in crystal form with incidental water-softening properties.[citation needed]

The modern cleaner was invented by housewives Elizabeth "Bet" MacDonald and Naomi Stenglein in Saginaw, Michigan in 1933.[citation needed] Their formula included equal parts of ground-up glue, sodium carbonate, and trisodium phosphate; though trisodium phosphate is no longer part of the modern formula out of a concern for environmental damage from phosphates making their way into waterways.[citation needed] Stenglein observed that testing in her house made it spotless, or "spick and span". They took the k off Spick and started selling the product in brown envelopes to local markets. From 1933 to 1944, both families helped run their "Spic and Span Products Company".[citation needed] On January 29, 1945, Procter & Gamble, a major international manufacturer of household and personal products based in Cincinnati, Ohio, bought Spic and Span for $1.9 million.[4] On August 30, 1949, Procter & Gamble registered the "Spic and Span" trademark (soluble cleaner, cleanser, and detergent).[citation needed]

The product was advertised in many soap operas, serving as the main sponsor of Search for Tomorrow for two decades.[citation needed]

The brand, along with Comet, was acquired by Prestige Brands in 2001.[5] In 2018, Prestige Brands sold the brand to KIK Custom Products Inc.[6][7] Procter & Gamble retained the rights to market the brand to the professional (non-home-consumer) market in the United States.[8] However, the product is no longer advertised on television.[citation needed]


The powdered form must be mixed in water to use. A liquid version is also available. Although considered all-purpose, it is "not recommended for carpets, upholstery, aluminum, glass, laundry, or mixing with bleach or ammonia" as written on product label.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Martin, Gary. Spick-and-span, Phrases.org.uk. Accessed 2019-03-08.
  2. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary. Accessed 2007-01-16.
  3. ^ "Take Our Word For It Issue 45". 1999-06-21. Retrieved 2007-01-16.
  4. ^ Michigan History, November/December, 2007. pp. 13-15.
  5. ^ "Prestige Brands International Inc. acquires Comet". Progressive Grocer. October 2, 2001. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  6. ^ Inc, Prestige Brands Holdings (2 July 2018). "Prestige Brands Holdings, Inc. Announces Strategic Sale of Household Cleaning Business". GlobeNewswire News Room.
  7. ^ "Exhibit". www.sec.gov.
  8. ^ "Spic and Span All Purpose Cleaner". Procter & Gamble. Retrieved 2009-06-17.

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