Mr. Clean

Mr. Clean
Mr. Clean's logo.

Mr. Clean is a brand name fully owned by Procter & Gamble. It is used for a cleaning solution and related products, and as "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser", for a melamine foam cleaner.



Mr. Clean was created by Linwood Burton, a marine ship cleaning businessman with accounts throughout the east coast of the United States. In the past, ships had to be cleaned using abrasives or solvents that were able to cut successfully through embedded grease and grime; however, past solvents were so dangerous to workers that Burton was motivated to finding a solution that was effective and less caustic. Burton, with fundamental knowledge in chemistry, developed Mr. Clean in an effort to clean ships without having to pay significant premiums in disability claims for his workers. He later sold the product to Procter & Gamble in 1958 [1] .

Mr. Clean made his television commercial[2] debut in 1958. Within the first six months of the introduction, Mr. Clean became the best-selling household cleaner on the market.[3] In November 1962, Mr. Clean was assigned a first name Veritably Clean as a result of the "Give Mr. Clean a First Name" promotion.

In the winter of 1963, Mr. Clean played a police officer "Grimefighter" who arrested dirt problems.

In the summer of 1963, Mr. Clean became the first liquid household cleaner in a plastic bottle.

In April 1965, Mr. Clean got mad at dirt and appeared as "New, Mean Mr. Clean".

In the spring of 1966, Mr. Clean played "two-fisted" grime fighter, who knocked out dirt with one hand and left the shine with the other. Also offered a spray dispenser as promotion pack to increase convenience of use.

In spring 1966, Mr. Clean offered clean and shine, in the "Mr. Clean leaves a sheen where you clean" campaign. He grew whiskers for brute strength, had a black eye to show floor "shiner" and testified in court against dirt.

In Spring 1968, Mr. Clean was a "Changed Man" and was reformulated to include pine aroma and better cleaning "in the bucket."

In October 1970, "Lemon Refreshed" Mr. Clean premiered.

In the summer of 1974, "Two Fisted Mr. Clean" was introduced, who was great at cleaning on one hand and on the other hand he leaves what's shiny gleaming. (This commercial brought back the use of the original Mr. Clean jingle).

In July 1976, "Sunshine Fresh Mr. Clean" with improved fragrance was introduced.

In December 1981 Mr. Clean had a new no-wax floor formula.

In July 1985 a new Mr. Clean was introduced with better full-strength cleaning to clean down to the shine like never before. Also in 1985 a national search for Mr. Clean look-alikes launched in Los Angeles.

In 1996, Mr. Clean appeared in "How Times Have Changed", once again using the original Mr. Clean jingle and the new Ultra power in it.

International versions

The name "Clean" is usually translated into local languages[4]:

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the product is sold under the brand name Flash;[5] this is because a company exists that uses the "Mr. Clean" name.[6] Furthermore, Flash does not use a mascot, unlike Mr. Clean.[7]


The product's mascot is the character Mr. Clean. In 1957, Harry Barnhart conceived the idea and Ernie Allen in the art department at the advertising agency Tatham-Laird & Kudner in Chicago, Illinois drew Mr. Clean as a muscular, tanned, bald man who cleans things very well.

According to Procter & Gamble, the original model for the image of Mr. Clean was a United States Navy sailor from the city of Pensacola, Florida, although some people may think he is a genie based on his earring, folded arms, and tendency to appear magically at the appropriate time. Hal Mason, the head animator at Cascade Pictures in Hollywood, modified the pre-existing artwork in print advertising to be more readily used for the television commercials written, produced and directed by Thomas Scott Cadden. (Cadden also wrote the words and music for the original Mr. Clean jingle — see below.) The first actor to portray Mr. Clean in live action television commercials was the late House Peters, Jr. Peters died from pneumonia at the age of 92 on October 1, 2008.[8]

Mr. Clean has always smiled, except for a brief time in the mid 1960s during the "Mean Mr. Clean" series of ads when he was frowning because he hated dirt. Although Mr. Clean is the strong, silent type, he did speak once in a television commercial where live actor (Mark Dana) appeared playing Mr. Clean in a suit and tie in the mid-1960s.

Mr. Clean most recently appears (with permission) on the September 2010 cover of Biz X Magazine.


Mr. Clean's theme song, or jingle, has been around since the product's introduction, initially sung as a popular-music style duet between a man (Don Cherry) and a woman (Betty Bryan). Thomas Scott Cadden wrote the jingle at his home in Skokie, Illinois in the spring of 1957 while working for Tatham-Laird & Kudner Advertising Agency. The vocal and piano recording was made on a home tape recorder for presentation to the agency and later to Procter & Gamble. Procter & Gamble approved the jingle in the spring or summer of 1957. Thomas Scott Cadden produced the recording of the jingle at Universal Recorders in Chicago in the summer or fall of 1957. Bill Walker was the arranger and Don Cherry and Betty Bryan were the singers. In January or February 1958, Cadden produced and wrote the first pool of television commercials — nine one-minute commercials and four 20-second "lifts". Included was the original full 60-second jingle commercial and the 10-second jingle "tag" at the end of all the others. They were produced at Cascade Pictures in Hollywood, California. The first pool of commercials ran in August 1958 at WDTV/KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the year the product was introduced. The jingle is copyrighted under numbers EU 589219 & EU 599220. The jingle is also registered with ASCAP under title code 570098598 & 570006267. It has been played as recently as 2011, usually in a contemporary musical setting or instrumental version. It is the longest running advertising jingle used in television history.

Original lyrics by Thomas Scott Cadden:


Mr. Clean gets rid of dirt and grime
And grease in just a minute
Mr. Clean will clean your whole house
And everything that's in it

Verse #1:

Floors, doors, walls, halls
White sidewall tires and old golfballs
Sinks, stoves, bathtubs he'll do
He'll even help clean laundry, too.

Verse #2:

Can he clean a kitchen sink?
Quicker than a wink.
Can he clean a window sash?
Faster than a flash.
Can he clean a dirty mirror?
He'll make it bright and clearer.
Can he clean a diamond ring?
Mr. Clean cleans anything.


Mr. Clean gets rid of dirt and grime
And grease in just a minute
Mr. Clean will clean your whole house
And everything that's in it
Mr. Clean ... Mr. Clean ... Mr. Clean


Mr. Clean in popular culture

  • Mr. Clean's appearance with his tight muscle shirt, ear piercing, stylishly handsome looks, fastidious habits, and helpful but deferential persona in television commercials, has made Mr. Clean into something of a gay icon.[10]
  • In The Simpsons episode "Bart Gets an Elephant", Homer pours a bottle of "Mr. Cleanser" into a puddle in the basement and begins scrubbing, ignoring the warning to only use the product in a well-ventilated area. The resultant fumes cause him to hallucinate and imagine the various mascots from a selection of household cleaning products coming to life. The mascots then begin to brutally attack Homer and Mr. Cleanser, identical to Mr. Clean right down to having the correct skin colour (as opposed to the usual yellow skin of characters in the series), angrily informs Homer in a German accent "I...must...destroy you!".
  • "make mrproper" is a command in the Linux kernel build system, used to "clean up" all files from past builds and restore the build directory to its original clean state. The reason "make mrproper" is used instead of "make mrclean" is because Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux, was familiar with the name "Mr. Proper" as this is the brand widely known in Europe.
  • The Cleaner: An agent that closely resembles Mr. Clean in The Venture Bros. He is hired to clean up crime scenes with his weapon of choice, a pair of cleaning sprayers filled with acid that melts anything it touches(and leaves a pleasant odor that smells faintly of lemons). Seen in the episode 'The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together (Part II)'
  • Mr. Clean is also one of the most famous songs of the band Millencolin.

Mr. Clean scenes competition

In March 2007, Mr. Clean launched an online competition with YouTube that gave consumers the opportunity to create a commercial advertising the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.[11]

Entrants were asked to use up to 60 seconds of time for their advertisement. A prize of $10,000 was slated for the announced winner, based on an independent judging corporation's (D.L. Blair) scoring.

The competition ran through June 30, 2007. In September 2007, the $10,000 prize was awarded to the creator of the winning video "Here's To Stains.”[12]

In 1998 Honda Motor Co. created an advertising campaign, including a television commercial, featuring Mr. Clean to represent Honda's clean running Accord along with other products including lawnmowers, string trimmers, motorcycles and marine engines.[13]


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