Why are 21st century women obsessed with cleaning?

Why are 21st century women obsessed with cleaning?

Women can’t get enough of cleaning, with tips widely shared on social media. Picture: Pixabay

THIS afternoon I plan to deep clean the kitchen.

Now that means I face a number of dilemmas: shall I or shan’t I wear Marigolds? Should I use a dishcloth or a sponge, and is it better to make my own surface cleanser or use a shop-bought one?

Of course I’m joking. I haven’t ever deep cleaned the kitchen, nor any other room in my house, nor do I intend to start. A basic wipe is all it ever gets, and that’s only when I spill something.

Cleaning and me, we don’t really gel, and for years that didn’t bother me one bit. In fact, I once graced the cover of Woman magazine, beside the headline ‘I’ve never vacuumed upstairs.’

I was almost proud of my domestic slovenliness. Women were, after all, liberated. The 1950s, with its apron-clad housewives buzzing around the house clutching a duster, were long gone.

So why now are women becoming obsessed with cleaning?

Cleaning influencers – ‘cleanfluencers’ – are exploding in popularity on social media. Perhaps the best-known is Sophie Hinchliffe, who goes under the name Mrs Hinch.

Her tips for home cleaning have earned her 4.3million followers on Instagram. Her bestselling books include Hinch Yourself Happy: All The Best Cleaning Tips To Shine Your Sink And Soothe Your Soul.

Ninety per cent of Mrs Hinch’s followers are women. The sad fact is that women clearly love cleaning, While writing this column I noticed a story on a national newspaper website: ‘A woman has gone viral on Facebook after sharing a simple hack for cleaning stained car seats in just 15 minutes using shaving foam and an old toothbrush.’

The very fact that this is deemed newsworthy shows how far we have regressed.

Women may no longer be tied to the kitchen sink, waiting for our men to come home to an immaculate house with dinner ready to serve, but it seems we are strapped to our J-Cloths.

I had hoped that this might be a result of lockdown, when we hadn’t much else to do but clean and tidy. Even I did a bit of that whilst on furlough. But cleanfluencers were popular before the pandemic, so that can’t be blamed.

I can understand how easy it is to get sucked in. Cleanfluencer Chantal Mila, who goes by the name of Mama Mila is another, doles out advice such as ‘How to clean your oven while you sleep’.

Intrigued, I had to have a look, and learned how, using a mixture of baking soda, dish soap and water, you can make a potion that cleans your oven overnight.

I stuck baking soda on my shopping list – that’s how easy it is to get hooked.

Thankfully, I wasn’t going shopping until the next day and came to my senses. The way I look at it, life is too short to spend it cleaning.

I haven’t progressed beyond my student days, when I lived with six others in a dishevelled hovel. I like mess and I like clutter. Not that my house is a likely candidate for a Channel 5 show – I do tidy away some stuff, but does it matter if a little dust builds up here and there?

As Quentin Crisp famously said: ‘There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.’

With spring firmly upon us, the cleanfluencers will no doubt go into overdrive. Women across Britain will be getting on their knees to give the skirting boards a rub down and flicking their feather dusters across ceilings.

One thing’s for sure, I won’t be joining them.


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