posted by Lorraine Bartlett

Even as I type this, my kitchen sink scrub brush languishes in a glass of bleach. So fearful am I of salmonella, staphylococcus, listeria, e-coli, and the like.

Yes, I've been Kim and Aggie-ized.

How_clean_is_your_house_cover_2Kim (Woodburn) and Aggie (MacKenzie) are of course the hostesses of the Brit TV reality show, HOW CLEAN IS YOUR HOUSE? which is a staple on BBC America. My cable package doesn't include the channel, so I've had to make excuses to show up at my parent's home to watch the show (which is shown three times a day. I try to make it for the two matinee showings at least a couple times a week--and have even had my mother record a few episodes on days I've been unable to get there). Every episode, they show you the filthiest homes in Britain.

Now, for one thing, I don't happen to think these homes are always as bad as portrayed. In yesterday's (repeat) episode, a guy with a greyhound had a filthy bathtub...but the bathroom walls appeared to be spotless (as was his toilet). And what's with everything these people own being strewn on the floor (while all the drawers and cupboards are empty)? Yeah, there's real filth. (Like the woman who didn't have a litter box and had three year's worth of cat urine and feces littering her flat.) But I also think that some of this filth is greatly exaggerated. (Does anyone really have seven cups of lard in their tiny fridge?)

Perhaps the allure of the show is that when I come home, my own home looks..well, pretty wonderful! Let's face it, authors are known, nee ENCOURAGED, not to clean for the sake of their art, but now and then you just have to grit your teeth, don a pair of rubber gloves, and dive into the grime.

Every episode, Aggie takes swabs of the dirtiest places in each home (stove, kitchen sink, the loo) and pronounces the bad news: germs fit to KILL. (Hmmm...wonder if I can add this to an upcoming manuscript...?) Of course, the people living in all this filth aren't at all ill. Hell, they're IMMUNE to all the nasty microbes, but the best way to make them literally clean up their acts is to tell them their dirty habits threaten their kids or their pets. (And more often than not, it's the threat to their pets that make them shape up pronto. The English are notoriously soft when it comes to animals...a trait for which I am justly proud, as a first generation American of English extract.)

Soft_scrub_home_bottlesSo I found myself happily scrubbing everything in sight over the weekend at our cottage, which is prone to mildew. This afternoon, I turned on Oprah and instead of raiding the fridge, I hauled out the Soft Scrub and gave the kitchen counter and sink a good going over. I'm thinking of heading to the Dollar Tree tomorrow to stock up on cheap toothbrushes and baking soda toothpaste because then I'll be able to thoroughly clean the gaskets on my fridge (both here and at our cottage), then attack any rogue mold on the underside of the toilet bowl. (Very tricky to clean with just a regular toilet brush.)

Kim's great with the non-toxic cleaning tips, too. For instance, thanks to her I cleaned the copper bottoms of my saucepans with ketchup and salt and they shined up brilliantly! Sugar soap is a big deal with her, too, but I'm not sure if I can get it here in the U.S. (Can you say Google search?) Got a plugged up sink? Baking soda, white vinegar, and boiling water will soon take care of that! (Works better, and safer, than caustic liquid drain cleaners.)

It'll be a sad day for me when this series ends. I'll have to go back to my old, slovenly ways. But in the meantime, hand me that bottle of bleach. I think there's still a germ or two in the kitchen.

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