Wednesday 16 March 2016

Happy Homes: How Clean Is TOO Clean?

A day full of housework, tidying, spring cleaning, organising...nesting in general has got me thinking about our homes, our cleaning routines and how different people maintain very different levels of cleanliness when it comes to their homes. 

Before children, I had a very regular routine when it came to my housework and chores, and I think my house was pretty clean and tidy. I'm a big organiser: I love nothing more than throwing things out, reorganising cupboards/drawers/wardrobes and implementing filing systems! (I know, a bit of a weird thing to love!) But since having Bert I've had no choice but to become a little bit more realistic about the time I can spend on dusting, hoovering, cleaning and organising. 

Juggling a toddler, working part time from home as a freelance social media manager, blogging, and trying to keep a home is no easy task...I have to be organised, spend my time wisely and I try to be super-productive as often as possible. Sometimes, my housework falls by the wayside and other things need to take priority. It was hard at first to 'let go' and not worry about a few crumbs on the floor and dust on the mantle, but it turns out a little bit of dirt won't do us any harm... 

I don't deny that we all want to live in a germ-free, tidy home, right? But is there such a thing as being TOO clean? And could all that dusting, hoovering, polishing and mopping be putting our health at risk? Well, before you reach for the polish or whip out your nitrile gloves, let’s delve a little deeper into this issue...

The Importance of Hygiene 

Good hygiene is essential, which is why many of us grow up being encouraged to brush our teeth twice a day, clean our clothes regularly and wash our hands before eating and after going to the loo (amongst other daily routines). Looking after your personal health and keeping your home neat and tidy is extremely important as it helps prevent disease causing germs such as colds, flu, tummy bugs, salmonella and E-coli from spreading, which, of course, is a good thing – but should we put a cap on how often we clean or is maintaining a sterile environment the way forward?

Hygiene Hypothesis 

Well, believe it or not, getting rid of every single germ (or trying to at least, as this is virtually an impossible task) could actually weaken your immune system according to the hygienehypothesis which was first proposed back in 1989 by Prof David Strachan. It’s thought that a lack of childhood exposure to harmful germs and infections has led to a rise in allergies although other factors such as a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet have also been put up for blame.

While the hygiene hypothesis does seem to make logical sense, the idea that we should live in a messy, germy muddle is not correct or attractive. Good hygiene protects everyone from getting sick and is something to be practised on a daily basis. Exposure to germs such as the norovirus or E.coli can be life-threatening after all, so it’s better to take precautions around the home and clean on a regular basis to ensure everyone stays fit and well. That said, we should not be afraid of a bit of dirt here and there as when our bodies become exposed to some nasties they quickly build up a resistance and learn how to fight infections.

How Clean is TOO Clean? 

It’s probably fair to say that your house can never really be ‘too clean’ as germs will always exist even if you try your best to get rid of them and you’ll also be exposed to immune strengthening bacteria outside of the home.

However, there’s absolutely no need to become erratic with your cleaning habits to the point you are following behind people with a mop. Compulsive scrubbing, spraying and bleaching could instead expose everyone in your house to a cleaning chemical overload which can also lead to allergies such as asthma and eczema. Of course, natural products such as lemon juice and baking sodacan help leave your property sparkling, but try to find a happy medium and don’t spend every second cleaning.

So it’s all about finding the balance. While you don’t want to live in a dirty environment, you don’t have to become obsessed with keeping things sparkling either. A lesson I've definitely learned since becoming a mum. 

... Nesting or not, I must remember that a little bit of dirt won't do my family any harm!

Mrs B


This is a collaborative post.