Janet Christie's Mum's the Word – why the internet’s not all filth

I knew cleaning could be addictive – but watching other people do it?
Mum's the Word. Pic: AdobeMum's the Word. Pic: Adobe
Mum's the Word. Pic: Adobe

I’m working, tapping away at my filthy keyboard, and am tempted to give it a clean, but fear I’ll lose or destroy something in the process.

“What’s the best way to clean a keyboard? I ask Youngest, reclining on my nearby bed under a counterpane of cats, removing makeup with a wet wipe.

“Cotton bud,” she shoots back.


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“Yeah, well I’m of the generation that watches people clean things.”

This does not compute, so I ask for more information.

“We watch people cleaning. Like someone cleaning a keyboard with a cotton bud for instance. That’s how I know.”

“Ha, ha. No you don’t.”

“We do.”

Should I be worried?

“How long have you been doing this? And well done for telling me.”

“Years. There’s loads of videos of people cleaning things. There’s a woman who uses a million different colours of product in her toilet and it looks amazing as she flushes. And people do carpet cleaning, that’s good.”

She shows me a video of a clean freak cleaning. And another. Spotless people cleaning in already spotless houses. Who knew?

I’m unsettled. The cleaning gene is in our family, dormant in me but I’m obviously a carrier, and it might be presenting in Youngest so I’m on alert. I take a subtle approach to elicit intel.

“You are a good cleaner actually,” I say. “The kitchen was gleaming yesterday after you’d been in there.”

“I enjoy a spotless kitchen. Don’t you?” she says.

“Er… don’t mind. I did like it when you’d done it though, so feel free. But your room’s nice and messy. Clothes all over the place. Which is good too,” I add (ie. normal, but I know not to use that word).

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“OMG I was just choosing an outfit so back off. I’ll put them away after I’ve finished watching this. Look.”

People are cleaning ovens, petrol station forecourts, gutters…

“Oh, they do look… clean. Nice,” I say, feeling a little bit… dirty?

“See! You’re getting it.”

“Is there a site for people who want to watch paint dry?” I say.

“No. That takes way too long. It’s about transformation, and it’s best if it’s immediate.”

I look back at my keyboard to discover that while distracted I’ve polished it with a wet wipe. If a keyboard’s cleaned while no-one’s watching, did it really happen?

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