Dishing the dirt: How clean does your home really need to be?
Jonathon Kambouris/Gallerystock By Penny Sarchet I HATE housework,” said the late Joan Rivers. “You make the beds, you wash the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again.” If only. I can’t stand a dirty kitchen sink, a grubby bathroom or cobwebs hanging from the ceiling, so I spend precious hours every week cathartically cleansing. The doubts set in 18 months ago when I moved in with my boyfriend. It didn’t take us long to discover that we’re in opposing corners when it comes to housework – he’s dirty but tidy, while I’m clean but messy. He suddenly had to deal with my clutter spread all over his dining table and sofa, while I nursed a growing preoccupation with the art of disinfection. We have learned to live with each other. And my new position of compromise has led me to question some of my preconceptions. Is cleaner necessarily better? I’d heard in a vague sort of way that perhaps it’s not; that an obsession with the elimination of germs might be behind many a modern malady. But what did the science say? I set out to see whether there might be such a thing as too much cleanliness. We’re bombarded with seemingly contradictory information about being clean. Good hygiene helps ward off countless infections and illnesses,