Hundreds of museums around the world are dedicated to people, places, things, or periods of history. This museum is devoted to a value: the value of clean. According to the Museum of Clean’s website, the concept of clean is one that dominates every aspect of human life, from our surroundings and environment to our minds and bodies.
The museum was founded by Don Aslett who, in 2006, discovered his collection of cleaning supplies, including 250 pre-electric vacuums, had outgrown their mini-museum space adjacent to his Cleaning Center, home to his cleaning company Varsity Contractors. Aslett, who has been in the cleaning business since the age of 18, has written books and delivered lectures dedicated to various facets of the subject of cleanliness. For Aslett, the concept of clean is about more than just dirt and clutter; it’s a way of life and a state of mind. As the museum’s Facebook page puts it:
“Clean will solve most of our personal problems, hence most of the world’s problems. Clean creates harmony, peace, safety, and security. Clean speaks with a clear voice that all is well and in control.”
Several exhibits are object-centric; collections of tubs, brooms, washers, and military helmets – used by soldiers, according to the museum’s website, for a variety of hygienic purposes – showcase the tools we’ve relied on over the centuries to stay clean. Other exhibits are a little more conceptual; the Garage exhibit explores the detrimental effects of clutter while the Texas-sized Trashcan offers a visual representation of the problem of waste. A replica of Noah’s Ark located at the museum’s entrance “emphasizes the importance of water in the cleaning profession,” according to the professional cleaning industry website CleanLink.
Many museum activities are aimed at engaging what are arguably among the biggest threats to cleanliness: children. The Kids Clean World, a three-story playground of clean encourages kids to get excited about everything from sweeping to recycling. The Old City exhibit allows kids to experience the art of clean through the eyes of a chimney sweep.
Since the museum opened to the public in 2011, the cornerstone of the collection, Aslett’s vacuum collection, has grown to include nearly 1,000 pieces that span a century of clean.