The white glove test

Posted by Marian on March 16, 2002

In Reply to: The white glove test posted by Word Camel on March 16, 2002

: : : : As I understand this phrase, it refers to an inspection of a room for cleanliness. The idea is that, if the room is sufficiently clean, the inspector would be unable to find a speck of dust, even if he/she were to don white cotton gloves and run a gloved finger along every surface. I seem to remember this phrase from the late 50s/early 60s. I wonder if it's got a military origin or if it's just a relic from a TV commercial.

: : : It's military. For many years, vicious NCO's have used a white glove to test to see if the squaddies have got their barracks to ridiculously clean standards. They would claim that it's character-forming, I suppose.

: : Assuming that the main purpose is to establish the authority of the NCO and pose the potential for spirit-breaking humiliation for any squaddie foolish enough to not measure up during inspection, I wonder, does the method work? I guess anyone who didn't toe the line at this phase of their military career would find that career soon ended.

: Well, I was an brat and I can say this: They may not always be smart, they may not always be interesting, but they know how to polish brass, make a bed and clean a bathroom - which is more than can be said for many men - oe women for that matter. :)

True. My grandfather taught us grandkids more about cleanliness and order in a couple of evenings than my mom ever did, by having the six of us stand for inspection before bedtime every night we spent at his house. Miltary corners on the beds, floor swept, toys put away. He played at being gruff about it but, in the end, made it fun to be neat. Getting six kids to stand at attention for five minutes while he performed the inspection, too, was no small feat.