How Clean Is Your House? is a British entertainment/lifestyle television programme in which expert cleaners Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie visit filthy homes and then clean them. The thirty-minute show is produced by talkbackTHAMES, the UK production arm of FremantleMedia (itself part of the RTL Group), and airs on Channel 4 and S4C. It was first broadcast in 2003 and was an immediate ratings success.
Each episode of the program follows the same formula. Firstly, the viewers are briefly introduced to the residents of the home to be cleaned. Then, accompanied by a dramatic score of horror movie music, Kim and Aggie explore the abode on their own, examining the grime and often sniffing the foulest areas (this almost always leads to Kim stating that she will be physically sick, though she never is). It is guaranteed that Kim and Aggie will clamber over piles of unstable debris in their elegant pointy-toed shoes, and that one or both of them will reach in to touch something that will make you cringe. They often use their bare, ungloved fingernails (Aggie's are natural but manicured, Kim wears acrylics) to scrape up grease from a cooker or microwave, random slime, assorted goo, or even dried feces ("poopoos", if Kim speaks) from the bowl of a toilet. Kim and Aggie then meet the residents before the cleaning begins, assisted by several professional cleaners. During this process, which takes up the bulk of the show, Kim and Aggie share tips for tackling particular cleaning tasks with the residents (and the viewers), often relying on traditional methods rather than expensive commercial cleaning products. At some point, Aggie takes swab samples from the filthiest areas of the house and has them analyzed in a lab, allowing her to reveal to the residents what bacteria and other nasties lurk within. Towards the end of the show, the residents are shown around their freshly cleaned home. In earlier series, episodes ended with Kim and Aggie visiting a few weeks later to check that the place was still clean and tidy. The show makes a point of thoroughly cleaning carpets and furniture the resident owns, and not replacing dirty or worn items just for the sake of the final reveal.
Kim takes the role of a dominating woman, scolding residents for letting their homes get so bad with blunt observations and humorous insults. While cleaning, she wears a white outfit with her trademark fur-lined rubber gloves and pearls. Another trademark of hers is to wink and flirt with the men in the episode, in good fun. Meanwhile, Aggie (whose previous jobs included Associate Editor in Good Housekeeping and working for MI6) assumes the "dirt detective" role, performing such tasks as the bacterial analysis. The duo have become well-known in the UK, to the extent that they are almost always referred to as just Kim and Aggie.
The show is light-hearted and often camp, falling more into the entertainment category than the factual genre. Much of the appeal comes from the almost voyeuristic pleasure of seeing how untidy some people let their houses become (many have not been cleaned for years), though the cleaning tips add some practical value to the show.
The format has been adapted to many other countries. A United States version, starring the original Kim and Aggie, premiered in September, 2004 on the Lifetime network. This edition also airs in the UK on Channel 4. Both the UK & US versions air in Canada on the W Network and Australia on cable television channel UK.TV. The UK version currently airs in the United States on BBC America.
A spin-off book, How Clean Is Your House?, written by Kim and Aggie, was published in 2003. FreemantleMedia has also signed licensing and merchandising deals with many cleaning product manufacturers and other companies.
In 2004, Kim and Aggie did a version of the series called Too Posh to Wash about personal hygiene. They also did a one-off special, When Kim & Aggie Went to Hospital, which aired 30 August 2006, about how to keep our hospitals clean.
The fifth series started airing in the UK on 17 May 2007. Primarily the same format as previous UK editions, Kim and Aggie will continue to seek out 'the UK's filthiest homes' however, the program will delve far deeper into the psyche of the home owners. In addition, the two-week "check-up" has been omitted from the show's formula. Also, as part of the fifth series, they will visit some of London's most rat infested off 30 minute special. It is in the 8-9pm slot along with Embarrassing Illnesses, which airs at 8:30pm.