Clean is a solution to most of society’s problems.
One might think a small town in remote southern Idaho is a strange place to lead the charge in selling the world on the value of clean, but it is happening. In 1953, as a freshman in college, I discovered the perfect way to work one’s way through school was by becoming a professional cleaner. I started a little company that I later built into a national cleaning firm called Varsity Contractors.
Cleaning quickly became more than a job to me.
I saw clean as a solution to most of society’s problems. So enthused was I with the work, the results, the relationships and the positive effect of clean, I have been championing the cause for the past sixty years. I’ve contributed stories to thousands of media outlets, given countless lectures, workshops and seminars on the topic, and written forty-plus books. Yet, clean continues to be a “hard sell.” I’ve used logic, evidence and humor to draw attention to the importance of our work, but it still doesn’t capture the public’s imagination. I’ve never stopped trying, though.
A Boy Scout Jamboree
It was on a Boy Scout jamboree trip to the Edison Museum in Detroit that a superior way to sell “clean” popped into my head. I’d spotted an 1890, pre-electric sweeper, and thought, there are horse museums, cotton museums, gun museums, even Spam museums. Why not a museum for clean?
I began collecting and organizing. In 1984, I acquired my first pre-electric 1911 pump vacuum. It was a relic, but provided a great demo for visitors. Next, I found an 1895 sweeper. The reaction to my small, but growing “museum” in our corporate offices was astounding. Fox News traveled to Pocatello, Idaho, and aired a piece on us. Antique stores, friends, fellow cleaning pros, eBay and ads brought in hundreds of historical cleaning items. More space was dedicated to our display. Then, more items….I paid $300,000 for 240, pre-electric machines from the famous Peter Fries Collection in Boston. Other cleaning items were added almost daily –- washers, tools, equipment, books, signs, etc. Believe it or not, we even had a huge collection of cleaning ART! Some of it more than 2,500 years old.
The Museum of Clean
We were quickly outgrowing our corporate space, so I found a beautiful, one-hundred year old building right in Pocatello, only a few blocks from where the Aslett cleaning empire had begun so many years ago. But let me make this clear–- it isn’t a cleaning museum. It’s the Museum of Clean! We are selling the value of clean –- clean air, clean homes, clean water, clean teeth, clean arteries and clean yards. “This museum isn’t about cleaning stuff,” a visitor said recently. “It’s about lifestyle.” Bingo!
The Museum of Clean belongs to all of us. We all need to think of creative ways to convince the public to elevate clean to its proper place. If you’re ever in Idaho, please drop by. I’m happy to give you and your family a private tour.
Don Aslett is founder of Varsity Facility Services and The Museum of Clean. Known as “America’s #1 Cleaning Expert,” he is a sought-after media source, popular speaker and bestselling author. For more information about Don’s business, click here.