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‘Clean Sweep’ star helps put house in order

Deirdre Donahue USA Today

If you’ve ever seen TLC’s “Clean Sweep,” then you probably can’t forget Peter Walsh, the professional organizer with the Aussie accent so broad that it makes Paul Hogan in “Crocodile Dundee” sound like an Etonian.

Walsh, 48, along with host Tava Smiley and a team of designers and contractors, delves into the recesses of American homes and psyches to find out why we are a nation of pack rats.

Now an American citizen living in Los Angeles, Walsh theorizes, “Maybe we are nation of slobs. … People have no idea of how to pick up after themselves, how to keep their homes organized.”

But in this uncertain world, Walsh says, people want to create an aura of control and a sense of order in their homes.

“Clean Sweep,” now in its second season, tries to uncover the deeper issues, says Walsh. A recent show explores how one family’s possessions overtook their home while the father of a 4-year-old daughter recovered from cancer.

Although harsh in conversation about “a culture of excess,” Walsh presents a softer side on the show. He is a former kindergarten teacher who gently guides people to give things to charity by asking questions such as whether an item is truly valued or is simply clutter. “I just hold up a mirror,” he says.

For Kesia Sullivan, “clean sweeped” by Walsh and his team in December, “it was the best Christmas gift ever.” The mother of three boys, 11, 1½ and 4 months old, Sullivan says things were under control – pre-kids. But the Long Beach, Calif., couple – she’s a social worker and her husband, John, is a government employee – define the word busy. She adores the private space “Clean Sweep” created just for her.

Walsh has no sympathy for those who excuse sloppy homes as some kind of syndrome. “Labeling this situation as a disorder – it’s a cop-out.”

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