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Chasing DirtThe American Pursuit of Cleanliness$
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Suellen Hoy

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195111286

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195111286.001.0001

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Whiter Than White—and a Glimmer of Green

Whiter Than White—and a Glimmer of Green

(p.151) Chapter Six Whiter Than White—and a Glimmer of Green
Chasing Dirt

Suellen Hoy

Oxford University Press

This chapter tackles the pinnacle of America's pursuit for cleanliness after World War II. By the turn of the 1930s, every American was convinced of the value of cleanliness. Home economics become part of high school and college curricula and electrification to the rural areas began thus lending cleanliness even to the remotest part of the nation. At the end of the First World War, advertising expenditures doubled and electricity use tripled as millions of American homes bought hygiene products and appliances to emulate a “culture of cleanliness”. The culture of cleanliness took a deep root in the modern American homes in the 1920s and 1930s when America's economy saw a great rise, replacing blue-collar jobs with white or pink-collar jobs. As a result, the demand for a “cleaner clean” became a way to win acceptance and success. The rising economy also gave way to the suburbs, replacing the once filthy farmhouses. It also gave way to bathrooms at homes, appliances designed to ease cleaning, and the further dedication of women to taking household chores and cleaning to themselves as men went to work outside the home.

Keywords:   cleanliness, value of cleanliness, home economics, culture of cleanliness, cleaner clean, war, 1930s, hygiene

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