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Squeaky clean

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 25, 2007

In Reply to: Squeaky clean posted by Fazman on July 25, 2007

: Just wondering what the phrase "squeaky clean" originated from? as in, how is it derived?

I'll give you a couple of dictionary definitions, and then my own opinion.

The Oxford English Dictionary has:

c. Comb. squeaky clean (also with hyphen), (of hair, etc.) washed and rinsed so clean that it squeaks; completely clean; freq. fig., above criticism, beyond reproach.
1975 Country Life 8 May 1176/2 No in a position to criticise... No one is, in the current idiom, that squeaky-clean...."

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online has:

Main Entry: squeaky-clean
Function: adjective
1 : completely clean []
2 : completely free from moral taint of any kind []

Both of these dictionaries emphasize hair as being something squeaky clean. Well maybe so, but my experience with hair is that it doesn't squeak. Howver, when you are washing dishes or windows, you can get a squeaking sound by rubbing your fingers or thumb across a wet but perfectly clean surface. It's a practical test for cleanliness. I can't prove it, but I imagine that the phrase "squeaky clean" originated as an advertising slogan for some product used for cleaning dishes or windows.
The figurative meaning, as given in the MWOD and OED, of uncorrupted, above reproach, spotless and free of taint, is obviously used often.