Reality cleaning contest

11th of July 2022 Article by Lotte Printz
Reality cleaning contest

Lotte Printz in Denmark reviews a new reality TV format on cleaning. "Maybe you have even been inspired to live a cleaner life!"

These are the final words by the celebrity host of a brand-new reality TV format about cleaning, spoken as the closing credits appear on the screen in the seventh and final episode and the nine contestants eliminated earlier fling their arms around the neck of the winner of ‘The Golden Bucket'.

The programme called Sheer madness or ‘clean' madness (a Danish pun that translates badly into English) aired in Denmark in April and May on the "youth" channel TV2 Zulu.

In this format, not unlike The Great Bake Off and Ready, Steady, Cook!, 10 amateur cleaners or cleaning enthusiasts (some might call them obsessive compulsive cleaners as they clean their own homes up to four hours a day!) compete against each other in a series of rounds.

The challenges they are given in each episode are predominantly household cleaning routines, like dishwashing, removing stains, tidying the kids' room or cleaning the living room after the teenage son threw a bombshell - or a party that is! But in two separate episodes they have a go at a portable lavatory from a music festival and a hotel room - given the same amount of time to do so in the latter as professional chambermaids.

"It sOcks!!", one of the male contestants bursts out with a huge grin after being told off for having thrown a sock left on the floor in the bin - rather than placing it in 'left items'.

Throughout, contestants use elbow grease, but rarely the cleaning products they are used to in their own homes. Each challenge comes with a twist, of course. Using only ingredients found in a kitchen or bathroom cupboard on an apron to wipe off nasty stains from ketchup and cocoa for example. Or removing chalky white deposits in kettles or in the bathroom shower with a choice of household goods such as yoghurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, oranges, pickled beetroot, fizzy drinks or acetone.

A bit of knowledge about acids and bases and various chemicals' effect does not go amiss.

To say the least, the contestants are in heaven when finally presented with shelves abound in ordinary cleaning products in another challenge - only to find out that the cleansers have been put in different bottles and containers and labelled... in Greek!

"On your marks"... or spots perhaps! Time is of an essence too in this type of competition, of course. As well as high standards.

And to assess the contestants' skills and results after each challenge are strict and serious-looking judges: Guest appearances in the more peculiar cleaning disciplines such as cleaning dogs, rifles from the royal guard and trainers! And two main judges: A woman who cleaned for the royal family for 16 years - and looks like a well-dressed housewife straight out of a 1950s American commercial - and a male chemistry geek, who's an award-winning lecturer in food chemistry and a cleaning expert who also knows the old good housewife's guides backwards.

He's also credited for having helped the production company develop some of the challenges and probably contributed to the rather useful knowledge scattered around in speaks or fact boxes.

Having googled responses, the programme seemed to receive little attention from the media and the few reviews it received were mixed.

"But WHY?", one of the critics asks herself (and the makers, I gather) after having named some of the challenges the contestants face in the programme. Calling it the next step to "formats where contestants cut their toenails within the shortest possible time or show off their skills in washing their own armpits."

Another critic is more positive: "This is too much in almost all aspects of the word. But it's made with a great sense of humour making it wonderfully entertaining and great for chillaxing."

Yours truly is probably considerably older than the programme's target audience and no fan of reality TV in general. So had I not been on a mission (taken on by myself, granted) to write about the show for this blog, I may have turned off the telly halfway through the first episode. And I'm quite certain that I would never have made it to the seventh and final episode.

Yet, I found myself all worked up in the last nail-biting minutes of the final challenge - even cheering for my favourite contestant! In addition, I have to admit, I might even change a few routines in my own household as a result of having watched the show!

So, in some strange, and rather surprising, way the programme did in fact inspire me. Especially with the jewels of the programme (perhaps from a sector perspective as well?), the chemistry geek and the enlightening facts, the programme becomes more than ‘sheer madness'.

Add to that, the obvious sheer entertainment value and, I have to say, the brilliantly casted contestants who all have bubbly personalities on top of a great passion for soap and water, of course. Hoovering is either a hobby or their number one guilty pleasure, and some of them express a wish to gain a little more recognition for those ‘hobbies' after appearing in the show.

It's unlikely that the show rubs off on the industry like we saw with Covid-19. However, one could hope that the growing popularity of cleaning in general (reflected also in numerous videos on YouTube) could gain professional cleaners more recognition as well.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention... the winner of this first series - and also my favourite contestant - is a professional window cleaner as it happens!


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