Fringe Box



XX Notes: Dishing the Dirt

Published on: 20 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 23 Jul, 2020

Maria Rayner

Maria Rayner‘s observational, fortnightly column from a woman’s perspective…

Mouldy cups, apple cores, crusty cotton buds. Anyone with the pleasure of living with a teenager will have come across these (and worse) when cleaning their offspring’s bedroom. Even though we expect them to take responsibility for this there comes a time when the cleaning fairy must restore bedroom hygiene.

But do you know which room in the house is the dirtiest? And which item in that room? You might be thinking the bathroom, as that’s where we offload our most personal waste. Or the hallway, where we stomp in with muddy outdoor clothes and the dog shakes half the garden up the walls. Or even the teenager’s room, boys or girls doesn’t matter, both collect mounds of crinkly tissues, used plates and sweaty sports clothes.

You’d be wrong. It is the kitchen. The room where we cook healthy meals for hungry mouths, using shiny implements and sparkling pans and crockery. Or so you thought. But think again about what you use to clean those pots and pans, and what you dry them on.

How clean is your kitchen, especially your sponge?

Do you have a dishwasher? Using this may cut the spread of nasty-sounding bacteria such as Faecal streptococci (FS), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) and Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens), but not everything fits in the dishwasher.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

In a study for Currys PC World, lab technician Dr Jonathan Hughes found 100 per cent of sinks tested positive for P aeruginosa, 25 per cent for FS and the average sink was cleaned only once every 25 days. P aeruginosa is found in soil from unwashed vegetables and can cause skin irritations or abscesses. FS is found in poo and can cause food poisoning.

Do you wipe your surfaces “clean” with a sponge? You may, in fact, be spreading all of these same bacteria around your kitchen. The above bacteria can also live on sponges and the study found 12 per cent of the UK’s sponges also contained E. coli, a nasty germ that can lead to kidney damage if not treated quickly. I know, my niece had it.

But there is hope for our lockdown homes. The tests by Dr Hughes also revealed that homes where a regular cleaner was employed, contained fewer bacteria. Now, if you have asked your “treasure” not to visit during the pandemic, don’t panic, retired couples who cleaned daily had a similar low level of bacterial infection in their homes. So, use the time you would have travelled to work to Dettox your sink, and wash or replace your sponges and tea towels more frequently.

Tidying is often not a priority for teenagers and students

None of this helps with tackling my student daughter’s bedroom. She’s been away since January and we really need the space for home working. Wish me luck as I move furniture and tidy clothes. I hope it’s only mouldy apple cores and crusty cotton buds that I find lurking there.

Prom 2020, a return to the school disco?

This week should have been full of excitement, visits to the hair salon, nail bar and tanning room. Preceded by weeks of internet browsing, social media sharing and the trying on of flamboyant outfits, as well as the stress of finding a date and convincing Dad that everyone arrives in a stretch limo.

Prom season. Mercifully for us, our only daughter survived it several years ago, our middle son went to a school where alternative rocked and formal events were not a novelty, so we anticipated the approaching end-of-GCSE party for our youngest with trepidation. What was expected at Child Three’s school? Black tie and corsage? Pre- and post-prom parties? Arrival by helicopter?

More and more expensive extras are expected by school leavers attending proms

Year on year, school proms get more outrageous as each cohort tries to outdo the last. The BBC reported in 2019 that families with a girl often spent £1k on the end of school party. This figure could easily be surpassed with a £500 boutique party dress (who wants to arrive to find someone else in a matching mass-produced High Street outfit?), £500 share of helicopter arrival, hair, make-up, shoes, professional photographer to capture the moment, and then there’s the cost of the ticket …

I completely get that leaving school is a moment to celebrate (I love a good party!) and, although my son doesn’t seem devastated by the lockdown loss of prom, it is a rite of passage that has been taken away from school leavers in 2020. A chance to let your hair down after all those weeks and months of study and party with friends you’ve known all your school life who may be choosing separate paths.

But it is even sadder if this party is not accessible to all because it’s been stoked to a raging heat by a prom industry feeding on the Cinderella dreams of young girls, and it is mainly girls. To quote a friend: inpromemorium. May she rest in peace, or be replaced with a school sports-hall disco.

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Responses to XX Notes: Dishing the Dirt

  1. Lisa Wright Reply

    June 20, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    I almost always enjoy the Guildford Dragon letters and articles. However, on this occasion I find myself offended.

    ‘From a women’s perspective’, sounds interesting but as I scroll through the words it’s the same old, how to clean and look after kids story.

    Really? It’s 2020 not 1950.

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