Thursday, October 15, 2009

Clean Freak

Sometimes, I think people in the design world are just far too picky about the details. I don't mean details like the trim used around a pillow or the way a curtain is finished. And I'm not talking about hardware, lamp finials, or the other sundry decorative accents that really are important. No, I mean details like household products. How many times have you read an interview in which a designer mentions that he or she only uses a certain type of soap or toothpaste because of the packaging it comes in? Sound silly? Well, I always thought so too until I realized that I'm guilty of it myself. Just open my pantry door and you'll see cleaning products that were chosen not only for their ability to keep things spic and span, but also because of their chic, retro bottles, jars, and tins.

In fact, when I was at the hardware store and saw this glass cleaner that looked like something Betty Draper might have used, I bought it. It's the drawing of the 1950s housewife that got me (it's hard to see in this image). It actually seems to work pretty well, too.

I have not yet bought Town Talk Wax or Marble Polish, but I really want to- only because of those tins! Since it's been around since 1895, it must work well, don't you think?

I love my Tibet Almond Stick to touch up scratches on furniture. It really is quick as a wink. And the metal canister has a Victorian look to it, which I'm sure is what initially caught my eye.

There's Wenol metal polish that's originally from Germany. It's utilitarian looking in that 1960s European kind of way.

There's my Stick Um candle adhesive, selected because of the tin..

..and my Hagerty silver polish- love that shade of blue!

Is this post completely random? Of course it is! And what's with Rosalind Russell's photo at top? Well, my mother once read where Roz loved to clean and enjoyed going to the hardware store to buy the latest cleaning products. Wonder if she was a sucker for the packaging too?


  1. I have to admit I'm guilty of this myself. A couple of weeks ago bought the Town Talk Marble Polish. Haven't used it yet, but I do love a retro tin container...

    It's nice to hear that I'm not alone!

  2. The Stick-Ums are an answer to a prayer. Our rococo candlesticks do not take modern candles and I need something other than aluminum foil to hold them in place.

  3. AH - started my day with a smile - thanks

  4. I'm guilty too! I even have toiletry products with great packaging that I have bought in various countries and never use!
    I love supermarkets and hardware stores when travelling - now that makes for interesting souvenirs! Thanks for the good tips for the home.

  5. Anonymous10:27 AM

    In my experience with metal polishes, they are all pretty equal in performance. Have never found one that is head-and-shoulders above the others.

    (PS: I love this blog. Randomness makes it lovable. There are only so many Mark Hampton posts out there I can take.)

  6. Ahhhh! Packaging is my pet peeve! Namely, I DETEST most of it, especially those little things that sit on the bathroom sink! I have my own old metal box for tissues, a silver dispenser for soap, and blue glass bottles for my makeup remover and lotions! As for the makeup, I'm more apt to buy MAC even when I KNOW I'm being overcharged, just so the packaging isn't an eyesore on my sink! Those pink tubes of mascara from Maybelline? Forget about it!

    Now, the only thing left to conquer is the toothpaste! My old boyfriend used to buy Denblan toothpaste and it was a pleasure having it on the sink! It was the most LOVELY tube of toothpaste I've ever encountered (clean design, pale powdery aqua metal tube with red writing- there's a picture here), but at $20 per 2 1/2 oz tube, unjustifiably overpriced.



  7. Glad to know that I'm not alone! Regarding the $20 toothpaste, yes, that tube looks great, but I just buy my Crest but hide it in the medicine cabinet :)

  8. Oh, and when I travel overseas I also love to hit grocery stores and buy little items with neat packages!

  9. Wenol is better than Hagarty for silver! Amazing product, but it has gotten really expensive (at least in California).

  10. I'd love to have seen Rosalind Russell at my hardware store! I am really trying to reduce packaging in my house. I so hate that clear packaging from hell that requires mega hand strength or a power tool to remove! One of my proposed winter projects is to look at the DIY cleaners you can make yourself...and put into pretty containers! That said, my go to cleaner is Bar Keepers Friend which is more gentle than cleaners like Comet. Unfortunately, the packaging looks like an advertisement for how many typefaces you can cram on one product.

  11. Anonymous11:25 AM

    Such good fun! More random posts, pretty please!

  12. Anon- Trust me- I can give you random!!!

  13. Anonymous6:28 PM

    I love the Sprayway glass cleaner- definitely a keeper! But I've only seen one or two of the other products.
    Where are you shopping??

  14. Anon- I shop at my local Ace Hardware; they have all of these products with the exception of the Town Talk line. The household product aisle at my local Ace is my guilty pleasure!!

  15. Barbara8:07 PM

    I definitely agree about the color of the Hagerty's bottle, cerulean blue! It also works extremely well!
    Thanks for reminding me to polish my silver!

  16. I admit I buy certain products for their packaging. If I have the right photo shoot, the products work great as props. And sometimes they are useful too! It goes with being a visual person by trade! I am going to purchase these products you show- they seem useful and great pakaging too! Thanks for the tip!

    Fabulous blog!

    Michelle Zuniga
    Zuniga Interiors

  17. Ha! SO true. I keep all of my cleaning supplies in a small closet, and keep rarely used items like Santa Maria Novelli linen water on display, while all of my real cleaning supplies are hidden away. My lack of logic is definitely a professional organizer's nightmare. On the bright side, my closet looks pretty.

    Great picks!

  18. Anonymous3:14 AM

    Wenol is a truly fantastic product.

  19. I caught myself looking at my bathroom essentials and thinking "I really can't wait to use up this product so I can buy the one that goes well with everything else". So I guess I am really guilty.