Yes, Cleaning Is Good For Your Mental Health

Declutter your house + your mind.

The short answer is yes, cleaning is good for your mental health. And your physical health. And the mental and physical health of your loved ones and family. Read on to find out just how important maintaining a clean home can be for you and yours.

Surprising ways cleaning can affect your mental health

Having a clean home makes you feel in control — and this can trickle down into helping you accomplish basic daily tasks. Simply knowing where your stuff is streamlines everything you do, no matter how small. A lack of dust and grime and clutter is aesthetically pleasing, yes, but it also helps put your mind at ease when you’re looking around and not automatically logging all of the things you need to do to tidy up.

Especially if you’re working from home, having a clean house is crucial to being productive, not getting distracted, and feeling content and confident. A little organization goes a long, long way.

Plus, cleaning helps eliminate dust, germs and bacteria that cause allergies and negatively impact your physical health. The more physically healthy you feel, the better you’ll feel mentally.

Clutter can fuel anxiety and stress. When your mind is already reeling, looking around at all your stuff surrounding you in various stages of disarray and disorganization can really send you over the edge. According to a 2010 study by researchers at the University of California, clutter was proven to increase the stress hormone cortisol in those surrounded by unfinished projects and overflowing piles in their own homes.

Researchers at Princeton University concluded in a 2011 study that “a cluttered environment makes it more difficult to focus on a specific task due to a person’s visual cortex being overwhelmed by all the task-irrelevant objects in the room.”

Everyone has different thresholds for stuff and things. From minimalists who keep their kitchen appliances off the counters and out of sight until they need to use them to maximalist creative types who love to be surrounded by colorful bric a brac and tsotchkes, different people can withstand different types of piles, collections, and adornments.

Find your sweet spot and set reasonable, achievable goals to maintain that. The idea is to declutter to the point where you’re comfortable and relaxed in your own space.

Managing stress and anxiety by cleaning is more common than you think

Some people turn to exercise, some meditate and do yoga… then there are the stress cleaners. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, out of control or that nagging sense of existential dread, a very healthy outlet is to grab a vacuum or scrub brush and go to town on your house.

When your problems seem too gigantic to address or the weight of the world is especially heavy, singling out small, accomplishable tasks and doing them to completion feels great. Cleaning is, in itself, a mini workout and gets those endorphins flowing as you move about. But just being able to be in control of this one tangible scenario, that is the cleanliness of your home, is comforting and calming.

There’s a physiological connection between cleaning and wellness. Gregory Scott Brown, MD, a psychiatrist, and wellness advocate based in Austin, Texas, explains, “... there are benefits like stress reduction and gaining a sense of control that cleaning up your space can offer. Often, it’s a sense of purpose, having something tangible that you can look at and say, this is something I’ve achieved today. That can be very rewarding for people who are struggling. Taking on a big, eight-hour project isn’t necessary. There are small things you can do every single day.”

It can be the chicken or the egg when it comes to cluttered home and mental health. Was depression causing symptoms that led to a lack of cleaning, and now the situation is out of hand? Or were you not cleaning regularly enough because you were too busy and now you’re burnt out and can’t seem to get started, contributing to feelings of depression and anxiety?

Positive changes might just begin with a clean house.

Tips for keeping a cleaner, happier home

  • Approach cleaning as a meditative task
    • If you shift your mindset from considering cleaning to be a burden and a chore to accepting that cleaning is a necessary thing you’re doing to better yourself, your surroundings and your family, you might feel better about it.
    • Consider your cleaning as a routine and a practice that you carry out regularly, so that your home maintains a certain level of cleanliness throughout the days, weeks, and months. Like any practice, if you keep up with it, you’ll get better and more efficient overtime and it will begin to feel like a natural part of your life.
  • Focus on decluttering to improve focus
    • Clutter can overwhelm your brain and your mind. The less stuff there is around to distract you from whatever task you're trying to accomplish — even if that task is relaxing — the harder it will be to achieve that task.
    • Declutter before you clean. And don’t attempt to do both at the same time. That can be stressful and overwhelming. Dedicate a day or week to just decluttering. Following up by cleaning the following day or week. It’s okay to take a break between the two.
    • Declutter room by room, or closet by closet. You don’t have to hit the whole house at once. It can be a lot.
    • Declutter by sorting and taking inventory. Find each item a proper home in the house where it belongs, choose to throw out or donate items and — before you put everything back away — consider implementing bins and baskets for a more organized storage solution.
  • Aromatherapy can alter your mood
    • Whether you use scented room spray, candles, or Febreze plugs, choose a scent that brings you joy and activate it in your home. We like pine and citrus for a quick pick-me-up, lavender to relax, or warm smells like pumpkin or cinnamon if you’re feeling cozy.
  • Get good sleep.
    • How will sleeping better help your house be cleaner? Well, if you’re well rested, you’ll likely be more invigorated and motivated each morning to be productive and tackle your checklists and to-dos. Also try properly making your bed each morning (mostly so you’re not tempted to hop back into it). Experts claim that making your bed daily will help you get better sleep, especially if the sheets and blankets have been freshly laundered.

Tips for Building Better Cleaning Habits

  • Dust often
    • Dust is everywhere. It’s in the vents, it lingers in the air, it covers all the surfaces. We love our Swiffer Duster because it actually traps and removes dust instead of relocating it. It’s also got an extendable handle to reach light fixtures and fan blades. Dusting is a chore that’s easy to forget, but it’s a critical one for keeping ourselves safe and healthy. Don’t forget — dusting removes dirt and allergens from our home!
  • Clean top to bottom
    • Because gravity. Start by dusting high up items like light fixtures and vents, then do the walls and the floors and baseboards last. Clean smarter, not harder.
  • Keep all of your cleaning products organized (in a caddy!)
  • If all of your cleaning products are right where they need to be each time you reach for them, your chores are already streamlined. If you use a caddy like a pro, you can tote your cleaning products from room to room with you, for maximum efficiency.
  • Divvy up housework and chores amongst family members.
    • This will make things seem more fair and equitable, even if it’s just your kiddos helping with the dishes. If everyone feels like they’re doing something to contribute, the communal morale will be higher.
  • Stick to the checklist + don’t make excuses.
    • It’s so much easier to not do something than to do it. In this case, make your daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal cleaning checklists or use ours and just stick to them. If you tackle small tasks more often, the quarterly deep cleans will be a breeze. Plus, the more incremental chores you complete, the more little boosts of serotonin you get from checking those things off your list.
    • If your checklist is intimidating, set a time limit. Dedicate an hour each day to getting your tasks done, and when that hour is up, clock out.

Routine, regular cleaning is super beneficial to your mental and physical health. Check in with yourself and make sure that you’re following healthy cleaning patterns for the benefit of you and your home.

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