House Rules: Get your home in order and feel cleansed in spirit

Time to make like pre-prince Cinderella and give your castle a really deep clean

How clean is your house? Is it Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie clean? (Remember the alarmingly efficient rubber-gloved TV duo who swooped in to swipe fingers along the top of picture frames and delve behind the fridge?) Is it judgemental relative clean, surface clean, or even comfortingly grimy?

I lent my house to some friends recently. I was away and, these days, somewhere to sleep in Dublin is gold-dust, even if it is a tiny hovel on the wrong side of the tracks. Anyway, I came home to realise that not all grime is equal.

Perhaps it has something to do with your own (forgive me) germs, and consequently your own antibodies. But dust, dabs and sticky bits you made yourself seem absolutely fine. As soon as there’s a chance of them having come from someone else, however, instant recoil sets in. Let’s put it down to evolution.

Think about coat pockets: now we’re all digging out our winter coats again, and putting hands in pockets to find things like forgotten tissues. No problem. But borrow a coat from someone else, and that tissue is immediate Urgh! The same thing goes for elastoplasts and other items, which we won’t go into right now.


A cleansing first

Suffice to say, having had house guests no matter how lovely, I could no longer be sure that the grime was my own. So last weekend saw me doing what is possibly the first ever truly comprehensive clean since I bought the place. Over two days I discovered the mysteries of oven cleaners, and explored the different virtues of all-purpose, kitchen-only and bathroom surface cleaners.

I found out that if you leave some cleansing gunk on white surfaces too long, it can stain them gently blue, and that you should always dust before you vacuum. Grime collects in the most extraordinary places, and standing on chairs to find it is great if you’re not terribly tall. I learned how much grease accumulates around a stove and that bottles of oil and condiments are better off in cupboards.

I also found things I didn’t know I’d lost, and emerged feeling cleansed in spirit as well as house. It’s not glamorous or sexy, but for now, at least, I’m a convert.

Let’s hear it for cleaning, truly the Cinderella of household tasks.