Elbow Grease

Monday, September 14, 2015


Dish soap, wood polish, glass cleaner, laundry detergent, or simply soap and water--these are my preferred cleaning products when I have a dirty house. Sometimes, however, another element is essential: elbow grease. Maybe it’s the best cleaner there is.

Although elbow grease sounds like an amazing and mysterious cleaner, it isn’t a thing at all. It is, literally, an idiom for hard physical work, especially vigorous polishing or cleaning. It is a humorous reflection of the fact that some tasks can only be achieved by hard effort and human energy, contrasting with the idea that there should be some special oil, tool or chemical product to make the job easier.

- I couldn't get the spots off of the mirror until I applied some "elbow grease".
- After using some car wax and a lot of "elbow grease", Frank's Ford Fiesta looked brand new.

Elbow grease is a rather old term, dating back to England in the 1600s, meaning sweat or effort, most likely work done by the lower classes. Not anymore. Everyone has elbow grease but the supply depends on you.



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