The white surfaces that traditionally mark cleanliness do just that, they mark rather than effect it. The whiteness of supposedly hygienic spaces originated with the garments and cosmetic powders that were periodically changed in order to take sweat of the body out of sight but not remove it. Putting on a new shirt was equivalent to taking a bath... Cleanliness was the visual effect that marked one's membership of a social class rather than the state of one's body. The look of hygiene was a kind of label that classifies the person who wears it.
Corbusier intended for us to see that hygiene as a mater of revolutionary moral progress. But like the whiteness of the Parthenon, that symbolic order does not progress predictably along as a linear incline. Friedrich Kitler observes that the introduction of photography exerted enormous competitive pressure on portrait painters painters (who were forced to find new ways to support themselves), but it also worked backwards, altering the symbolic order the portrait painters had maintained:
Portrait photography caused members of the aristocracy to present themselves no longer in full dress with uniforms and decorations, as they had for portrait painters, but rather they wanted to appear on their photographs wearing the simple black suits of normal citizens.