Keeping it clean at Idaho museum
The Museum of Clean in Pocatello, Idaho, is a six-story shrine to keeping things clean, from antique cleaning tools to a Civil War operating table.
The Associated Press
A shining display
Don Aslett's Museum of Clean is in Pocatello, Idaho. Admission is $5 for an adult or $15 for a family.
POCATELLO, Idaho — Don Aslett might be more than a half century into his fight against dirt and clutter, but he still can't take a stroll without bending to pick up litter from the sidewalk.
He can remember cringing at the site of spilled coffee grounds as a child, and in high school, finding it strange the other boys didn't like to clean their rooms. Even now, at the age of 76, his battle against grit and grime has yet to relent.
Those who might not understand his devotion, he reasons, have likely never felt the satisfaction of making a toilet bowl shine.
"I'll tell you, clean is a hard sell," said Aslett, who has written 37 books on the topic and founded a janitorial business with branches in most states and Canada.
"I love to clean," he said with a shrug.
And now, he has a six-story shrine dedicated to his craft — the Museum of Clean — in southeastern Idaho.
Among the exhibits: a horse-drawn vacuum dating back to 1902, a collection of several hundred pre-electric vacuum cleaners, a Civil War-era operating table, a 1,600-year-old bronze pick that was used to clean teeth and an antique Amish foot bath.
If visitors grow weary while touring the building, with its estimated 6,000 historical cleaning devices, they can take a seat on chairs fashioned out of garbage bins, a claw-foot bathtub and a 1945 washing machine.
There's also an 88-seat theater, an art gallery and a gift shop with cleaning kits for kids priced at $9.95 and plush toys in the shape of germs.
The idea for the project came several years ago, when Aslett came upon an old pre-electric sweeper vacuum at a Detroit museum.
"I thought, 'Well there's horse museums, cow museums, train museums, plane museums. Why not a clean museum?' " Aslett said.
He started his collection with an old pump vacuum he purchased for about $250 and tracked down more items at antique stores, while others were donated.
As his cleaning business thrived, so did the cleaning-tool collection. And, after six years of collecting, he opened his museum late last year.
Aslett and his wife, Barbara, now split their time between their Idaho ranch and their home in Hawaii. He might be a millionaire, but he also embodies the decluttered lifestyle he preaches. He has two pairs of shoes and three suits, and the last time he brought a new pair of Levis jeans they cost $3.25.
"When you're a cleaner, you look at things a little differently," Aslett said. "You look at the stuff you have to clean up, the unnecessary bottles and the unnecessary towels, and the garbage ... " he said, his voice trailing as the list went on.