Mr. Clean

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For other uses, see Mr. Clean (disambiguation).
Mr. Clean
The Mr. Clean logo
Product type All-purpose cleaner, melamine foam cleaner
Owner Procter & Gamble
Country U.S.
Introduced 1958
Tagline "There's no clean like Mr. Clean."

Mr. Clean is a brand name and mascot fully owned by Procter & Gamble 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 and his friend, Mathusan Chandramohan, a rich entrepreneur from Sri Lanka. 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, initially portrayed in the live-action versions by character actor House Peters, Jr.. Within the first six months of the introduction, Mr. Clean became the best-selling household cleaner on the market.[3]

International versions[edit]

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] For many years Flash was advertised on UK television by Scottish actress Molly Weir, with the catchphrase "Flash cleans floors WITHOUT scratching".


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 (one of the live-action commercials has a character directly refer to Mr. Clean as a genie). Hal Mason, the head animator at Cascade Pictures in Hollywood, California modified the 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 House Peters, Jr..[8]

In a NY Times obituary for the original illustrator, Richard Black, the product Mr. Clean was referenced as the "Genie in a bottle" [9]

Mr. Clean has always smiled, except for a brief time in 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 few television commercials where live actor Mark Dana appeared playing Mr. Clean in a suit-and-tie in the mid-1960s.

Mr. Clean appeared (with permission) on the September 2010 cover of Biz X Magazine.[10]


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 2016, 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[11]

The tune has been also an inspiration for the 2001 German western parody Der Schuh des Manitu (Manitou's Shoe) by Michael 'Bully' Herbig for a scene with Sky du Mont which cites a commercial for the 'superperforator', a fictional weapon.

Excerpt of the lyrics of the parody related to the original jingle by Michael Herbig:

You don't have to wait for later,
here's a new eliminator
Ask your local weapon trader
for the superperforator [...] [12]

Cultural references[edit]

Apocalypse Now(1979) features a soldier nicknamed "Mr. Clean".

In the Lost episode "The Hunting Party", "Mr. Clean" is one of Sawyer's nicknames for John Locke, a bald character portrayed by Terry O'Quinn.[13]

Mr. Clean scenes competition[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.”[citation needed]

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 Honda products including lawnmowers, string trimmers, motorcycles, and marine engines.[14]


  1. ^ "Mr. Clean through the years". 
  2. ^ "IIS7". Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  3. ^ "Mr. Clean Through The Years". Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  4. ^ "Photo gallery of worldwide packaging for Mr Clean". 
  5. ^ "Flash by P&G UK". 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 
  6. ^ "Mr. Clean (uk) Limited". Company Data REX. 
  7. ^ "Flash Cleaning Products, Reviews & Coupons - Supersavvyme". P&G. 
  8. ^ "Who is Mr. Clean - The Story Unfold". Pol Anderson Bishop. 2014-02-26. Retrieved 2014-03-12. 
  9. ^ Slotnik, Daniel E. (2014-04-02). "Richard Black, 92, Artist Who Conjured ‘Mr. Clean,’ Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-26. 
  10. ^ "Biz X Magazine September 2010". 2008-04-08. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  11. ^ Jensen, Trevor (2007-11-07). "Thomas Scott Cadden: 1923 – 2007". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  12. ^ "Excerpt from Der Schuh des Manitu". Constantin Film. 2001-07-19. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  13. ^ "Sawyer's Nicknames for Locke". Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  14. ^ Gellene, Denise (1998-06-18). > "Honda Seeks to Clear the Air Over Ads: American Honda Motors Co. has a big job for Mr. Clean.". ADVERTISING & MARKETING (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 2011-02-01. 

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