What is the definition of ‘clean’?
If you’re a parent you’ll be well aware of the difference of opinion between young (or maybe not so young) children and grown ups about what constitutes ‘clean’, especially when it comes to clothes, bedrooms and cutlery and crockery. By the same token though, you might expect that adults would generally be able to agree amongst themselves what ‘clean’ means.
Clearly not. In a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald, a family from Manchester in the UK that did a house swap with an Australian family based on the Central Coast in NSW, quickly fell out with their hosts over the state of the house they arrived to. It ended up with the UK family being given just three hours to move out.
It all started when the family from the UK arrived at night time and in the dark looking for a lightswitch stepped in quite a few dog poos, and then found a number of cockroaches running around the home. To clean the home up to their standards they then went off and bought various cleaning products and did a quick vacuum, whereupon the vacuum cleaner broker, and it was when they then contacted the owners about this that things started to go wrong.
House swap holidays are becoming increasingly popular, but they do highlight the different standards people apply and the different ideas of what ‘clean’ really is. A regular house swapper did admit that “One person’s clean isn’t always another person’s clean.” And a representative of one of the big house swap exchanges said that they had received around two hundred complaints, but this was from a pool of over half a million house swaps, so a pretty small percentage, and most of these complaints were about trivial items like broken cups.
The advice of course is to agree in detail before you go into a house swap what standards you expect. One easy way to avoid any disagreements would be to call in the professionals before you vacate your house to make it is clean to a high standard, including carpet and upholstery. And if you suspect that your incoming guests may be perhaps less careful than you, you might also want to think about getting anti stain treatment for you more treasured floor coverings!
If you’re concerned about these issues, whether in a house swap arrangement, or simply where you are letting your house out to tenants, spare a thought for the staff in major museums and art galleries that have much bigger issues to deal with, where major works of art and priceless ancient exhibits are spoiled by visitors, sometimes on purpose but often inadvertently.
The Art Gallery of NSW has recorded 89 incidents of damage of works on display, ranging from acts of vandalism to innocent curiosity of small children who leave greasy palm prints on Picassos. In once incident recorded, a visitor at a function being held in the gallery damaged a painting by ‘losing control of the topping on her tomato canape’. These things happen!