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There's dirty and there's dirty

I have mentioned in this space before that I wonder about the way the producers choose homes for Clean Sweep and similar American reality shows. I know there are always two people involved, for some reason, two residents. Also, I've noticed that these homes suffer more from runaway clutter than from actual dirt. They seem like homes that got away from normally neat people. The windows aren't too dirty, there aren't cobwebs all over, there isn't sludge.

The cleaning experts are kind and careful of the residents' feelings and they usually provide goodies for them - new furniture, paint, snazzy clever rearrangements. There are often prizes to be won.

Not so with the British How Clean is Your House? In this show, the intrepid cleaners enter real nests of infestation and horror. They do not spare the resident's feelings - the ones I have seen featured just one resident each time  - and they don't offer any prizes. They take samples and send them to the lab. After they have cleaned the place up, and we aren't talking just one room here but the entire place, they tell the resident they will be back to check on them. When they return they are usually not very hopeful. Some people get the message and manage to keep the place up but others start falling back into old bad habits. Easy enough to do.

Have a look at this image gallery from one cleanup. No holds barred here. This is the real thing.

What's especially cool to me is that not only do these two tackle incredibly dirty places, honestly much worse than my worst days and years, but they do it with cleaning products readily available and inexpensive, not to mention safe. No piles of dangerous chemicals for them. They use grapefruit with salt to clean a bathtub and sink, coffee to restore wood, and so much more. They take on the worst possible situations and prove that these solutions really work.  I see that they now have a book and you can be sure I'm putting it on my wishlist.

I really like the British attack reality shows. Another one is Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. In this show Gordon Ramsey, a top chef (not from the series) visits failing restaurants and in one week tries to put things right. He does not mince words. But while he can be deadly when chewing out an errant chef he also takes time to let others know their value. Some restaurant owners are willing to take all his advice; others are unbelievably resistant. There is something much more real about Brit reality than American. At least this type.

Oh yeah. I'm enjoying my time in New York. Watching British television...


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 1st, 2007 04:13 pm (UTC)
Slightly OT, but I have such mixed feeling about cobwebs. You see, I'm that rare human who likes spiders. I like in the subtropics, we have lots of bugs, they eat bugs, seems like a win-win to me. So I tolerate a few in my house as long as they stay to fairly unused areas, which they seem to do. Still, occasionally I have to go in and obliterate their homes for the sake of seemliness. I always feel a bit guilty.

Yes, I'm weird. What, you didn't know that already ?
Sep. 1st, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)
I don't find it odd at all. I know how much good these spideys do. I am not going to let them take over my new place but, like you, I don't want to be killing them either.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Judith Lautner
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