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Messy homes mess up lives
Aggie MacKenzie |  Thursday, 17 March 2011

Housework is the focus of an international conference in London today.

Feeling guilty about the dishes you left in the sink this morning? The cupboards you never get around to cleaning out? The dust piling up under the bed that is difficult to move? Maybe you need to tune into a conference on professional approaches to housework opening in London today (March 17) and listen to famous British Dirt Detective Aggie MacKenzie talking about the dark underbelly of 21st century housekeeping -- and what to do about it.

But first you can read Aggie's interview with MercatorNet, in which the presenter of the internationally popular UK television series, How Clean Is Your House, discusses the importance of a clean and tidy home to the self-esteem of adults and the security of children.

But first you can read Aggie's interview with MercatorNet, in which the presenter of the internationally popular UK television series, How Clean Is Your House, discusses the importance of a clean and tidy home to the self-esteem of adults and the security of children.

MercatorNet: Isn't cleanliness a bourgeois value that we got rid of in the 1960s? Don't we have better things to do today than keep our houses spic and span?

Aggie MacKenzie: There are many important things we have to do today and we should not get obsessed with housework. But keeping a clean and tidy house is certainly not bourgeois. In days gone by dirt was a social taboo among working class families, especially in Scotland where I come from. My goodness, if you didn't have your washing on the line by noon you were regarded as a trollop. There was a lot of social pressure involved and a fear of criticism, however, which could make things uncomfortable at home. We have to strike a balance between what makes a home both healthy and happy.

The homes we dealt with on our TV show were at the other extreme. Some would not have been touched for years, decades even, and were full of harmful bacteria -- listeria in the fridge, grime everywhere. There were people with permanent coughs, skin infections. On the whole, the people living in these houses had built up an immunity to the bacteria, but it was very dangerous for anyone visiting. We had a microbiologist with us on site who warned us that we should all be wearing masks. After cleaning one house -- it was filled with junk brought home from a landfill -- we were all ill and on antibiotics.


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