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So clean and bright

WANTED

July 24, 2003|Adamo DiGregorio and David A. Keeps | Special to The Times

Despite some welcome technological advances -- from self-wringing mops to Swiffering instead of mere sweeping -- common household cleaners have remained uncommonly unattractive.

It comes as no surprise that house-proud Americans have been swept away by a flood of home-care products from Europe and Japan. The Italian design firm Alessi and the whimsical stylists at Germany's Koziol have transformed everyday items into colorful characters and critters.

Now, the American firm Casabella is making a clean sweep of the boring broom closet, turning the everyday mop on its head. Merging ergonomics and aesthetics, Casabella offers cleaners with animal prints on their handles, buckets made of frosted pastel plastic, and mops and brooms with the metallic glimmer and detailing of an automobile.

High-end home decor stores scour the globe for sleek janitorial chic. Fitzsu Society on Melrose Avenue, for one, recently began importing Danish domestics by Ole Jensen. The award-winning designs combine such organic elements as beech brushes with natural bristles and pliable red rubber washing-up bowls that shift in shape. Even 3M's Scotch-Brite division has created an exclusive line for Target.

Purists may prefer unpainted wooden handles, straw bristles and yellow sponges, but the trend of making cleaning a colorful job rather than a drab duty seems here to stay.

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