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White Glove Test

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White gloves being used to test the thoroughness of a cleaning job. If you run your finger across the mantelpiece, shelf, or back of a chair and if it comes back clean, you know a good job was done. Truth in Television (the basic motion, with or without the gloves).

This doesn't require gloves. A cloth will do. Yet old money characters will use their High-Class Gloves for this.


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  • A commercial for White Cloud toilet paper has a hotel owner (played by a young Seth Green) showing a young king and queen a suite. The king does the test on a lampshade in the room.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Engaged to the Unidentified, Mashiro does this to the windowsill in her room upon first moving in. She's disappointed to find no dust, as her host family is particular about such things.
  • In Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, Commander Mardukas performs the test on a windowsill in Sousuke's classroom while touring the school in preparation for Tessa's visit. Criticizing Sousuke's cleaning at school (and later at home) is just another aspect of his overprotective tendencies.
  • On Hayate the Combat Butler's first day, he does this so well (to a window ledge, but same principle) that the maid says (at least in the sub) "Very thorough in the smallest places."

    Film - Animated 

    Film - Live Action 
  • The Amazing Bulk: General Darwin is introduced doing this in his office.
    General Darwin: I hate dust! I don't want it building up in my house!
  • Mary Poppins is at first doubtful when she sees her room, but is placated when she tests a surface with her gloves.
    Mary Poppins: Well, it's not exactly Buckingham Palace. (Does glove test) Still, it's clean. Yes, I think it will be quite suitable. It just needs a touch, here and there.
  • Rags: Arthur uses a glove to check whether or not Charlie properly cleaned the restaurant. To his surprise, the place actually has been cleaned, despite it originally being a "dump", to use his words.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Captain Kirk does this in the engine room inspection. Scotty gives him a knowing smirk when it passes.

  • Roald Dahl wrote about a prefect at his Boarding School of Horrors who would do this after having his fags clean his study.
  • Discworld: Nanny Ogg uses this test after her daughters-in-law clean her house.
    • Mrs Whitlow, the feared housekeeper at the University, also does her inspection rounds while wearing white gloves.
  • In Carole Nelson Douglas' Spider Dance, Sherlock Holmes is asked to investigate a matter in the home of William Kissam Vanderbilt. Holmes comments on the cleanliness of the house (he's actually chagrined that so much evidence is lost), and it is noted that Mrs. Vanderbilt tests the cleaning staff's efforts this way and fires those who fail.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Black Books, when Manny brings in a professional cleaner to clean the shop, he puts on a pair of white gloves and wipes a finger through the air. The finger of the glove turns black.
  • In an episode of Hannah Montana, Jackson, disguised as a health inspector in an attempt to get his Mamaw to quit as school lunchlady, tries this. It fails spectacularly (He even despairs "They're cleaner then when I put them on!"
  • Keeping Up Appearances: Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "bouquet") does this on occasion. She's rarely impressed.
  • M*A*S*H: In "Hey, Look Me Over", Margaret sweats out the inspection of an HQ nurse, whose favorite test is a white-glove test of the top of the OR door.
  • Navy SEALs: BUDS Class 234, a documentary on basic training for U.S. Navy SEALS. In one episode the instructors perform an inspection of the candidates' rooms, including a white glove test on the room's furnishings to see if they're clean.
  • In an episode of the short-lived Private Benjamin (1981) TV series (based on the 1981 Goldie Hawn movie), Captain Lewis conducts an unannounced white glove test on the company barracks with a pre-dirtied glove.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Ensigns of Command." The Sheliak are hailing the Enterprise, but Picard (having finally turned the tables on the treaty they'd been flogging all episode) makes them wait by going over to the dedication plaque and performing a gesture signalling this trope. This confuses Worf but amuses Riker. Remember that the Enterprise is a contained environment and dust is unlikely to ever settle on the dedication plaque unless things have gone horribly wrong. See this in action here.
  • In Upstairs Downstairs, Rose the head house and parlour maid does this to see if the new girl Sarah has done passably or not.

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    Western Animation 

  • An Urban Legend from the army about an officer who liked to do this. Whenever he found dust (and he always did), he would blow it into the face of the poor grunt and ask "Can you still see me?" One day, one of them retaliated by slapping both his hands on the officer's ears and ask back "Can you still hear me?"
  • Part of the ritual for the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery is the Relief Commander (who does wear white gloves) ostentatiously checking every part the incoming Guard's rifle.