Updated 02 July 2013

Is your home a tip?

How would you feel if two strangers came to poke around your home? And checked how clean your toilet was? And your bedding? If your house is spotless, you may not mind.


We all know people whose homes are too clean. Those are the ones that make you feel truly uncomfortable when you're visiting. Where your coffee cup is whisked away while you are still swallowing the last mouthful and you get the idea that where your feet are now, the vacuum cleaner will be minutes after your departure.

So, no feet up for you in this person's house. But where does the balance lie? Is your home clean enough, too clean, or an absolute tip?

In short, how would you feel if two strangers came to poke around your home? A BBC Channel 4 programme (broadcast on DSTV) called "How clean is your home?" holds a certain unexpected fascination for viewers.

Two very efficient and rather intimidating ladies, called Kim and Aggie, pitch up at peoples' houses, mostly at the request of their despairing relatives, and do a general inspection. Actually, they rather remind one of school headmistresses. Blonde bun, pink gloves edged with fur, sensible shoes – in fact, an alternative career in adult entertainment would not be unimaginable. Their aim? To get the nation clean and cleaning.

Household horrors
What they find, is generally horrifying. One rather charming woman living on a farm, had not done any cleaning, apart from the dishes and the laundry, for nine years. In the farmhouse, the bacteria count was 20 times the acceptable level on the counters next to the stove.There was a long dead mouse on a table in the lounge. Another couple with seven children, appeared not to have done any cleaning or tidying since they got married. In fact, the counters in their kitchen were found to be dirtier than the toilets. The floors could not be seen and sticky goo covered most surfaces.

One thing all the participants have in common, is that they hardly ever invite anyone over. Not surprising, considering that no person in their right mind could relax in a home that filthy, let alone have a cup of tea.

After a severe dressing down by Kim and Aggie regarding the squalor in which the participants live, work begins to clean the house.

In certain cases, the cleaning job is beyond the abilities of the two pink-gloved ladies and the inhabitants and a team of professionals are called in. From fumigators to steam cleaners to window cleaners. And once they have finished, the houses are simply unrecognisable and the heap of black bags filled with rubbish is often over two metres high.

Unexpected inspection
Two weeks later they pitch again unannounced to see whether the cleaning regime they handed out to the occupants on departure, has been stuck to. In some cases, everything is sparkling, but in others not. The occupants are once again sliding down the slippery slope to squalor.

But the regimes handed out by the ladies are not unreasonable. In fact, it shouldn't take more than half an hour a day to stick to these. And, they argue, once your home is clean, it isn't difficult to keep it that way.

Some of their considerations/tips:

  • Consider that household dust is made almost entirely of dead human skin – this should be an incentive to dust regularly.
  • We shed one gram of skin per day on average – enough to keep millions of dust mites going.
  • We perspire half a litre of water into our beds each night, creating the perfect conditions for dust mites, who live on the flakes from our bodies.
  • Dust mites are associated with arrange of health problems including asthma, eczema and bronchitis.
  • A recent study found the average desk harbouring 400 times the level of bacteria found in a regularly cleaned toilet.
  • A mixture of water and white vinegar makes an excellent cleaning agent for taps and bathroom surfaces such as tiles – and it is cheap.
  • Dividing tasks that are written down on a timetable, makes it so much easier to keep the house clean.
  • A paste of washing soda and bicarbonate of soda and water will remove stains from the bath.
  • Put your kitchen sponge into the dishwasher with the dishes.
  • A dirty kitchen cloth spreads bacteria everywhere – wash these regularly.
  • Bed linen should be washed once a week in water that is at least 60 degrees Celsius. Mattresses should be aired regularly.


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