Elbow Grease by
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Elbow Grease

“Use Ajax the foaming cleanser,  foams the dirt right down the drain.

You’ll stop paying the elbow tax,  when you start cleaning with Ajax!”

As a kid I loved that silly jingle!   And in fact my mother always told us to use that proverbial elbow grease in whatever we did,  and not just mundane cleaning chores.

Jessie was always ready to tackle new challenges and to give her all to whatever she did,  and she invariably did it all very well.  (See My Game Mother)

I miss those old advertising jingles,  and I really miss my mother and her elbow grease.

RetroFlash / 100 Words

 – Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Family
Characterizations: funny, moving


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Great advice from your mother as well as a lovely tribute. I was telling my kids yesterday how much I miss my father, so I understand your sentiment entirely. Sending you love. Ajax is more difficult to find these days.

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    Great RetroFlash, Dana. I too remember my mother’s enthusiasm for cleaning with elbow grease and miss her as well.

  3. Suzy says:

    Nice RetroFlash, love the featured image. Don’t those guys look a little like Snap, Crackle, and Pop? You can still get Ajax at Target and Walgreen’s, among other places, but we use Comet as well.

  4. Jeff Gerken says:

    We all remember our mothers urging us to be the best that we could be.

  5. Marian says:

    I used to love that boom, boom! after the Ajax in the jingle, Dana. We had a lot of elbow grease exhortations at our home. I do find Ajax occasionally. Nice nod to your mom.

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    Now I know where the term “elbow grease” comes from! I heard it from my mother too. Thanks for the memory.

  7. Right, I remember Ajax…and that it turned blue when you wet it.

    Most of us grew up hearing it, but It’s surprising to me that the term “elbow grease” got so much traction (so to speak).

  8. John Shutkin says:

    A terrific, evocative RetroFlash, Dana. Yet another catchy jingle I had totally forgotten about, and yet the words came back imediately — though it helped to have your story as a cue card.

    I, too, appreicate your mom’s belief in “elbow grease” in all worthy efforts. A great focus for your story. And it sounds better than “No pain, no gain.”

    And now I have a new earworm du jour…….

  9. Risa Nye says:

    This piece reminded me of my across the street neighbor who told me about having to use elbow grease to do something and I asked him where he kept it. To be fair, I was around six at the time.

  10. Loved this one! I remember singing it with my pals, trying to get our pre-adolescent kid voices to sing basso. Fun choice, Dana!

  11. Oh dear, THAT was the basso part, that and the ba-ba-ba-ba-boom that served as the tag for “… floats the dirt, right down the drain. (ba-ba-ba-ba-boom)!”

  12. I didn’t know that jingle. Whenever we run out of Comet, I always write “Comet/Ajax” on the grocery list. It is still there as an equal in my mind but it seldom appears on the shelves; must have been squeezed out somehow.

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