The History of Mr. Clean

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Mr. Clean is a great cleaning product.
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He's the most famous face in cleaning, so you may be wondering, "Was Mr. Clean a real person?" Mr. Clean is a character created by Procter & Gamble, a company that has been synonymous with sparkling surfaces since the 1950s. Anyone who has experienced the cleaning power of a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is already familiar with the mythical man's bald head, tight white shirt and single hoop earring in his left ear. These days, Mr. Clean is the face of a range of P&G cleaning products and a really easy Halloween costume for bald men.

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Mr. Clean's Origin

If you watched a lot of TV in 2013, you may have already seen Mr. Clean's origin story. Procter & Gamble made a memorable commercial that year that explained the Mr. Clean history. According to the company's ad, a hard-working farmer and his wife walked out their front door one day and found a bald baby cleaning the porch. They adopted the little boy, who turned out to prefer cleaning up messes to making them.

As the story goes, he grew to adulthood and went out to explore the mysteries of the world, constantly working to make the world a better place through cleaning. It's an odd commercial, and the fact that all the characters are played by real actors who interact with a CGI version of Mr. Clean is part of what makes this ad slightly unsettling.

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PR story aside, in reality, Mr. Clean originated in the 1950s when the mascot was created by an artist working for an advertising company. It's believed that the artist modeled the bald, muscular Mr. Clean on a real United States Navy sailor. Mr. Clean was introduced as the face of Mr. Clean liquid cleaner. He was introduced to the public in animated commercials in the late 1950s. In these ads, a silent Mr. Clean smiles as a catchy jingle explains all the different things his all-purpose cleaner can do.

Using Mr. Clean Products

There's a good chance that Mr. Clean's face is already somewhere in your home. P&G uses the mascot and Mr. Clean name on a range of products.

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Perhaps the most famous is the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, a porous sponge made of melamine foam. It's hard to believe now, but this multipurpose tool didn't exist until 2003. Dampening the sponge activates its cleaning power, and it can then be used to clean smudges from many surfaces, including walls, dirty appliances and even the white rubber soles of sneakers. (Don't use a Magic Eraser to clean anything that can be scratched, like your car's paint job or your nonstick pots and pans, since it's very abrasive.)

The Mr. Clean line of products also includes multisurface cleaning sprays and cleaning liquids just as the character first advertised in the 1950s.

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Mr. Clean History Fun Facts

He's been around for more than 60 years, and Mr. Clean has become quite a legend during that time. Learn some fun facts to impress your friends with your knowledge of Mr. Clean history:

  • Mr. Clean is often mistaken for a genie because of his bald head, because he's often seen with folded arms and because he often appears as if by magic, but there's no evidence of this in the character's backstory.

  • After his debut in animated commercials, Mr. Clean was played by actor House Peters Jr. in hundreds of ads during the late 1950s and '60s.

  • Mr. Clean's history is not limited to the United States. Travel abroad and you may see his face on products bearing names like Maestro Limpio (Mexico), Monsieur Propre (France) and Mastro Lindo (Italy).

  • Allegedly, Mr. Clean does have a first name: Veritably. It was chosen as the result of P&G's "Give Mr. Clean a Name" contest in 1963.

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