Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Glamorene Life Apr 20 1953I love some of the names that they gave products in the 1950s, and this is my new favorite: a rug cleaner called Glamorene. Doesn't that sound more like foundation makeup ("covers up all your imperfections for a more glamorous, lovelier you!") or nail polish ("won't chip for at least two days!"). But no. It is a funny looking powder that you shake on the rug after someone spills an ice cream sundae or something (hint: pick up the sundae dish first).

There were a bunch of funny ads but I restrained myself and am just going to show you two. On the right is a 1953 ad in which Mom is wielding a special Glamorene brush and has coerced her daughter not only into vacuuming but also into wearing a matching outfit complete with frilly apron. Note that the jar of Glamorene is on the clean side of the carpeting, giving an inanimate side-eye to the strangely even coat of dirt on Mom's side. That is one filthy rug! How can people who dress up in party clothes to do housework have such a dirty old rug?

I guess they are too busy keeping their frilly clothes clean. And yes, I know that those are not really party clothes. I remember going to grade school in that sort of outfit, minus the apron. In third grade we girls were finally allowed to wear pants and I was SO happy to get a pair of jeans! Yay, bellbottoms! I've rarely been so happy about a single clothing item than I was about those bellbottom jeans.
Glamorene Oct 13 1952 Life
Anyway...I also wanted to show you a detail from a 1952 Glamorene ad, featuring the jar and a tiny lady dancing around next to it acting like someone had just given her the equivalent of my third grade fashion statement. Yay, I get to clean carpet soils!

Ironic note: I have just this minute managed to spill coffee on the beige rug under this desk. Where's that jar of Glamorene (and a 1950s lady with a brush) when I need one?

Ironic note #2: Maybe we don't want to use this stuff after all...Here's a 1952 Time article about a Reader's Digest sponsored nationwide "cleaning tour" of salesmen demonstrating Glamorene, which is described as a "compound of cellulose fiber (resembling sawdust)." The tour almost got derailed (or, as Time quips, had the rug pulled out from under it) when someone died cleaning a rug on a plane. The rug cleaner contained trichloroethylene, and at first everyone thought that the cleaner in question was Glamorene.  Only it wasn't. And so sales picked up again. And people still do want to buy it, too. I'm not sure that it is still being made, though.


Barbara said...

Glamorine, Ovaltine - same thing really.

Man, how more people didn't get poisoned back then, what with all the bottles that looked alike!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an ad! The poisoning threat makes you wonder how many cleaning products we use nowadays that aren't good for our health.

Here's what i do for rug spot cleaning:
Mix a small bucket of hot water with a few drops of liquid laundry detergent.
Lightly scrub in with a bristle brush.
Then vacuum the excess water with a shop vac (in a pinch, an old towel can be used to soak up the dirty water).
Voila! stain is gone, and my family still has healthy lungs lol.

Bill said...

I'll bet you a dime to a dollar that the airline was using some cheap knock-off like Allurene or Enchantene. Trying to save a buck kills people.

Kath Lockett said...

Or, instead of 'ine' a lot of things seem to be 'o-matic' to add that techno-dazzle so needed in items such as fridges, oven cleaners and heated hair rollers.