Reality cleaning contest

22nd of July 2022
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 this spring. Ten amateur cleaners (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!

And 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.

Throughout, contestants use elbow grease, but rarely the cleaning products they are used to. 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 and pickled beetroot.

A bit of knowledge about acids and bases and various chemicals’ effect does not go amiss.
The contestants are in heaven when finally presented with shelves laden with ordinary cleaning products in another challenge – only to find out that the cleaners have been put in different bottles and containers and labelled… in Greek!

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.

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

Yours truly is probably considerably older than the programme’s target audience and no fan of reality TV. So had I not been on a mission to write about the show, I may have turned off the telly halfway through the first episode.

Yet I found myself all worked up in the last nail-biting minutes of the final challenge – even cheering for my favourite contestant! And 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.

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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