Vim (cleaning product)

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Can of VIM scouring powder from Norway.

Vim is the name of a range of household cleaning products originally produced by Lever Brothers.[1] The Vim brand is currently owned by European multi-national Spotless Group.


Vim scouring powder, one of the first products created by William Lever, first appeared on the market in 1904, an offshoot of Monkey Brand scouring soap. The name is thought to derive from the colloquial English word "vim" which has the same meaning as the Latin vis, vim ("force", "vigour").[2]

Vim was produced at Port Sunlight near Liverpool, England. The name Vim remained solely associated with the scouring powder until 1993 when a range of associated products were released. Vim was also the name of a detergent tablet manufactured by Lever Brothers and sold in the United States during the 1960s. It was the sponsor of the CBS sitcom The Lucy Show starring Lucille Ball .

Former owner Unilever abandoned Vim in favour of rival product Jif, although it was still sold in some other European countries.

In 2004 it was sold to the Italian Guaber group.[3] Vim is currently owned by Spotless Group, although it is still marketed by Unilever in Canada[1] and Sri Lanka, where it has a 90% market share.[4] Vim is also sold as a Unilever brand in South Africa[5] and India.

In popular culture[edit]

Vim is often referred to in John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey series as an example of the extravagant purchases made by his wife, referred to as "She Who Must Be Obeyed".

It's seen in the countryside of Haiti around 1950: "For three hours the only passer-by was a young girl who shuffled along with a tin of Vim balanced on her head, and her hands hanging idle." [6]

It is mentioned in the film Withnail & I by the character Uncle Monty. "I often wonder where Norman is now. Probably wintering with his mother in Guildford. A cat and rain. Vim under the sink and both bars on. But old now. Old. There can be no true beauty without decay."[citation needed]

It is mentioned in the series "Yes, Prime Minister" when then character Sir Humphrey Appleby, when trying to illustrate government wasteful spending, alleges that the UK government has spent enough money to "accumulate a million tins of Vim!"

In Midsomer Murders, one character shakes Vim all over the cakes of a murdered character in the episode Death of a Hollow Man.

The band STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) samples a Vim commercial for its song "Instantly."

In Season 2 Episode 5 of Grantchester Mrs Maguire (a war widow) turns down an invitation to a local dance from Jack Chapman with the excuse that she's "vimming the sink".


The artist Francis Bacon is reputed to have used Vim as a substitute for toothpaste.[7]

See also[edit]

  • Ajax, for many years the main competitor to Vim in the British market


  1. ^ a b Vim at Unilever's Consumer Canada website.
  2. ^ Room, Adrian (1983). Dictionary of Trade Name Origins. Routledge. p. 184. ISBN 0-7102-0174-5. 
  3. ^ "New Vim & vigour". Sunday Mirror. 5 December 2004. 
  4. ^ Vim at Unilever's Sri Lanka website.
  5. ^ Vim at Unilever's South African website.
  6. ^ Fermor, Patrick Leigh, "The Traveler's Tree," at 314 (New York: New York Review Book)(ISBN 9781590173800).
  7. ^ Searle, Adrian (9 September 2008). "Painted screams". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 May 2010.