I’ve got a confession: the Instagram cleaning craze makes my skin crawl. It makes me want to lock myself in a darkened room and weep bitter tears for the environment, feminism and common sense.
Not got a clue what I’m talking about? Let me explain. The insta-cleaning community is a big deal on Instagram. Millions compete to see who can be the tidiest. No sticky fingerprint, trail of crumbs or patch of dust is safe from these super obsessive cleaners.
It’s pretty normal to want a tidy home. I spend a good part of each day keeping our family home on the straight and narrow – it’s a necessary and rather boring chore. I do it, grudgingly – usually silently seething that 21st century women are still picking up the lion’s share of domestic duties.
But this isn’t normal cleaning. This is obsessive, weird cleaning. The kind of cleaning that encourages stockpiling products and applauds you for pouring an entire bottle of pine cleaner down your loo every day.
It’s good for my mental health, say many. Any criticism is quickly shot down and neutralised with this argument. Hitching obsessive cleaning to the mental health wagon really, really bothers me. I totally get the the therapeutic benefits of having a good clean in a time of crisis, or to help you feel on top of things. But this is different. Many of these accounts are filled with endless, never ending routines: wiping down surfaces with disinfectant multiple times a day and ‘putting your sink’ to bed with a good clean before you’re allowed to finally get some rest.
The really dark side of all this cleaning though is that it’s bad for the environment and it’s bad for our health. Last year a study by the University of Bergen suggested that over-using cleaning sprays has a significant impact on your lungs, comparable with smoking 20 cigarettes a day. And women were found to be particularly badly affected, because they’re the ones doing most of the cleaning. And let’s just pause to consider the environmental impact of all those nasty and unnecessary chemicals being poured down our drains, plus the sheer amount of plastic that goes with them. It’s not just barmy, it’s pretty damn scary.