SHE might be famed on social media for her tidying tips but Stacey Solomon uses a sneaky trick to keep her home spotlessly clean, says partner Joe Swash.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, the former EastEnders star, 38, reveals: “She blows all this smoke at me, saying, ‘You look sexy when you’re doing the windows’.
“So I clean them all, but it’s all mind games. She completely sucks me in — she just wants the windows cleaned. Have you ever seen a cat with a ball of wool? Well, she’s the cat and I’m the ball of wool. She’s just toying with me.”
Joe was in a typically cheeky mood when we caught up, relieved that the stress of home-schooling four kids under 14 had relaxed now it was the summer holidays.
He says the teaching was “challenging until we found our groove” but clearly his lockdown highlight has been bonding with 15-month-old son Rex.
In the buildup to winning ITV’s Dancing On Ice in March, Joe was spending eight hours a day on the ice, seven days a week, for four months — missing out on valuable time with the tot.
He has also been savouring time at home with Loose Women panellist Stacey, 30, without the interference of work.
But given her fondness for tidiness and organisation, I ask if he lives in fear of leaving a mug out on the side or putting clingfilm back in the wrong drawer.
He says: “I used to live like a student but I think I’m quite good now. I wash, I clean. I’ve had to kind of put my hand up since moving in with Stacey.
“She is good, there’s a lot that she lets slide. But the cupboards . . .
“I get this overwhelming feeling of dread because I know if I don’t leave that cupboard how it was left, the crisps on little hooks or the tea towels folded and in a colour co-ordinated way, she’ll go mad.
“So I try to go in the cupboards as little as possible. It does look amazing. But for someone like me it’s a minefield.”
Stacey’s cleaning tips and video clips of life at home with Joe and their kids have seen the couple go from reality TV royalty to social media superstars.
They are now a prime target for brands eager to pounce on their popularity, especially those operating in the mainstream market, including Butlin’s and Primark.
Joe insists becoming big-hitters on social media was never part of the plan and that it has just happened naturally.
And the reason behind their appeal? They are just a normal couple.
Joe explains: “Honestly, I didn’t anticipate any of this. I feel like I’ve just been taken away by the current with this social media thing.
“Stacey is amazing at it. She is so good, I get swept away with the Stacey tide because I’m not as good on it as she is.
“I do need to try a bit harder. I’ve got no problem with it, it’s just something I never thought I’d do.
“When I first started on television we had pagers, we didn’t have mobile phones. So we’ve gone from pagers to mobile phone cameras and now social media, so I feel like an old dog trying to stay afloat.”
On them being so relatable, he adds: “We feel like two people who just crept into the party, not invited.
“So when we go to these award ceremonies or we’re on the celebrity circuit, we’re not comfortable. It just isn’t us.
“The people that we love and hang around with, none of them are on television, so we just try to keep it as normal as possible.
"I couldn’t think of anything worse than living the stereotypical celebrity life.
"I think that would just drive me insane, so I think me and Stacey have a nice balance where we can dip our toe in, work, show a bit of our lives and when we come home we dedicate our time to our family.”
Joe and Stacey have been dating for five years after meeting on the I’m A Celebrity: Extra Camp spin-off show Joe co-hosted between 2009 and 2018.
In May last year they welcomed their first child together, Rex, to their family, which already included Stacey’s sons Zachary, 12, and Leighton, eight, and Joe’s son Harry, 13, from previous relationships.
The couple give fans a glimpse into their lives courtesy of small clips shared on Instagram.
It is enough to create headlines, which Stacey sometimes brings up during her appearances on ITV’s Loose Women — much to Joe’s dismay.
Just last month Stacey told her 3.6million followers how she locked Joe in their garden after he returned home late from his sister’s 30th birthday bash.
It’s only fair I give Joe his chance to tell his side of the story. He says: “Stacey said she didn’t mean to do it. I’m pretty sure she did.
“What happened was, I’d come home at 9.30pm, that was it, and I only had three pints. I don’t really drink so it went right to my head.
“So I came home and ordered something to eat and after it arrived I went into the garden to eat it and then I fell asleep on the bean bag in the garden, and woke up at 2am.
“She got up and locked the front door, so I had to sleep in the garden and I was so thirsty I had to drink water out of a hose. She said she did it by accident. But she knew — she was upstairs chuckling.”
Joe made his name in EastEnders in 2003 playing cheeky chappie Mickey Miller, Walford’s resident window cleaner, which might have sparked Stacey’s love for sponges.
After impressing with early performances, writers brought in Mickey’s family, including Demi, played by Joe’s real-life sister Shana. But after being struck down with meningitis and encephalitis, he was forced to take a year off.
When he returned, a new executive producer put paid to the Miller clan and Joe was written out.
So if the opportunity arises, would he fancy an Albert Square comeback?
“Going back to EastEnders is an itch that I really need to scratch,” he says. “I feel Mickey could have become a really big character if I hadn’t got ill.
“When you watch EastEnders at the moment, it does feel a little bit humourless and a little bit dark.
“Back in the day you had Minty (Cliff Parisi) and Gary Hobbs (Ricky Groves) and myself, characters you could really relate to, that you’d see down the pub.
"So I do feel they’ve missed a trick and I feel they need to get a little more comedy. But I’m still a huge fan and can’t wait for it to be back on TV.”
Joe is featuring in a new railway safety campaign launched by Network Rail and the children’s favourite Thomas & Friends.
In the short film he reads a Stay Safe With Thomas story to educate parents and kids about safety.
Joe says: “Thomas is an absolute legend. He’s part of us, it’s like HP sauce. It was an honour to do it. Anything I can do to keep current as a cool parent, I’m down.”
He certainly earned some cool dad points when he won Dancing On Ice — 12 years after he was crowned King of the Jungle on I’m A Celeb.
Joe would love to complete an unprecedented hat-trick by winning BBC Saturday night mega-show Strictly Come Dancing, should bosses ever ask him to appear.
But at the moment the only partner he is focusing on is Stacey — and when she will become the new Mrs Swash.
Due to a heavy workload and bringing up a young family, Joe has put off proposing. But when he does finally go down on one knee, he has a trick up his sleeve to get out of doing too much wedding work.
He says: “What I tend to do is overplay my inability to be organised so she’ll just cut me out and do the whole thing herself — and I’m all right with that.”
The odds are she will be, too.
- You can watch Joe reading the Stay Safe With Thomas book and download your free copy at networkrail.co.uk/thomas.
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