A sparkling, clean home is more than a pretty sight; in fact, there are numerous health benefits associated with a clean space. While the aesthetic of a sparkling home means brownie points for the in-laws or party guests – there’s a handful of other health and well-being benefits to a dust and clutter-free home. Read along as we explore a handful of health benefits and a variety of tips to maintain a clean space.
Growing up, you might recall being told to make your bed, put away toys, or wash the dirty dishes after dinner. The reason behind this? Most parents want to teach their children the value of cleaning up – whether that’s to build good habits, ward off unwanted pests, or foster responsibility. Today, as the responsible, tidy adults we are or strive to be, most of us understand that having a clean, uncluttered space is a good thing based on the years we lived in our parents’ or guardians’ house. Knowing that most of us understand cleanliness to be intrinsically good, let’s take it a step further and discuss the importance of a clean home and how it contributes to our physical health and overall well-being.
So, how important is a clean house or living space? Hint: It’s really important and here’s why!
Improves Productivity & Focus
Old receipts or bills on the coffee table, clothes that haven’t been worn since the 2000s, or random toiletry items that have long since dried up (talking about the dried-up nail polish bottle in the vanity) are all types of clutter that accumulate in our living spaces. It’s the stuff that takes up physical space in our homes without providing much value. And for some, finding focus and concentration can be a lot harder when the living environment feels cluttered. A compelling study published by Princeton in The Journal of Neuroscience found that “when multiple visual stimuli are competing for your attention, you have a harder time narrowing your focus to only one of them.” Our brains enjoy order, and when there’s constant visual exposure to clutter, our cognitive resources experience fatigue, ultimately reducing our ability to focus. So, if you’ve ever found yourself staring blankly at a task, unable to concentrate, it might be time to declutter and clean your workspace to promote efficiency and productivity.
A clear space inspires a clear mind. On the other hand, living in a messy and cluttered environment can create a sense of chaos, leading to stress and anxiety. As Forbes Health states, “our environment plays an important role in our mental wellness, and keeping a clean home, whether that’s your bedroom, apartment or house, has various mental health benefits. For starters, the physical act of cleaning, whether it’s mopping, scrubbing, or vacuuming, supports the release of endorphins, also known as “feel-good” chemicals. When released, endorphins can help reduce anxiety or stress levels and promote overall well-being and happiness. So, if you catch yourself smiling right after you go to town with the mop, you can thank the feel-good chemicals for the mood boost. And going off our mopping scenario, once you’ve finished the task, a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction might also spark a positive reaction.
Additionally, a clean and tidy home can help you feel more relaxed and at ease. It’s much easier to unwind after a long day when you’re not staring at a pile of dishes in the sink or miscellaneous items floating around the house. When our living spaces are clean and clutter-free, it gives us mental space to breathe, relax and recharge.
Reduces the Spread of Germs & Allergens
Our homes can harbor a lot of bacteria and germs as these unwelcome guests make an invisible appearance every time we re-enter our living spaces. In fact, research conducted by the University of Colorado found that “the average American household has more than 2,000 different species of fungus and 7,000 species of bacteria.” If you’re thinking about grabbing a disinfectant wipe after reading this, trust us, we felt the same. Cleaning is an essential practice for reducing the spread of germs and allergens. Here’s why:
- Disinfects surfaces: Doing a good wipe down, especially on high-touch areas such as door handles, light switches, and counters, can kill or reduce the number of germs present.
- Removes pet hair: Sometimes, our fluffy friends can trigger allergic reactions, which is why it’s important to clean up the dust bunnies that might have been left behind.
- Improves air quality: Dust, pollen, mold, and other allergens can accumulate in indoors when left unchecked. Prevent sneezing and wheezing or other respiratory problems with regular dusting or vacuuming.
If you have a hard time catching ZZZs, it might have something to do with the cleanliness and clutter of your bedroom. An article from the Sleep Center of Middle Tennessee discusses how “your bedroom should be your retreat from the stress of your everyday life, and keeping it organized will help you relax when it’s time to go to bed.” A clutter-free and clean environment can help soothe the mind, making falling and staying asleep easier. Additionally, bedding hygiene plays a huge part in sleep, as clean sheets, pillowcases, and other linens significantly contribute to a comfortable night’s rest. A study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found “people who wash their bedding and sheets regularly reported a 19% better rest at night than those who neglected the hygiene of their bedding.” Create a comfortable sleeping environment by regularly cleaning bedding following the expert suggestion of once a week, so when it’s time to hit the sheets, it’s lights out.
Tips for Maintaining a Clean Home
Between work, a binge-worthy television show, balancing a house full of children, or other daily obligations, finding time to clean tends to fall by the wayside. Consider implementing a few of these simple tips to help kickstart good cleaning habits that will go far in the long run. And before you know it, many of these tips will feel like you’re on autopilot.
Create a Cleaning Routine
Consider creating a schedule that allows you to concentrate on a few cleaning tasks a day to avoid feeling overwhelmed. For example, every Monday could focus on vacuuming floors, whereas Tuesdays could be all about wiping down surfaces. The beauty of a cleaning schedule is that you can customize it to fit your lifestyle. If you’re looking for some cleaning schedule inspiration, check out this Good Housekeeping schedule to get started.
The Ritual of Making the Bed
Making the bed every day may seem like a small insignificant task, but there’s more to it than what meets the eye. As The Spruce notes, “It might be a small accomplishment, but making the bed sets the tone for the entire day.” Think about it as a win-win situation; not only are you knocking out an easy chore, but you are also helping to kickstart a productive day.
Do a 10-minute Nightly Clean Up
Consider taking 10 minutes out of your nightly routine to do a quick nightly cleanup. Focus on tasks that take little energy, such as loading or unloading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, or dusting off a few surfaces.
Follow the 80/20 Rule
This one specifically speaks to perfectionists. While achieving a sparkly, clean home straight out of a magazine clipping might be achievable for some, it’s not always realistic. Doing this takes a considerable amount of time and effort that a lot of us simply do not have. For Jenn Lifford at Clean and Scentsible, the 80/20 rule means being “happy with 80% of the cleaning being done. Getting caught up in all of the little details that make up the last 20% (like making sure every little speck is cleaned up off the floor or getting to all of those little out-of-the-way and hard-to-reach places to dust) are huge time suckers and are probably details that no one would really notice.” So, before you pull out the cleaning supplies, consider using this as a rule of thumb to set yourself up for success.
Declutter in Bite Size Pieces
Decluttering is an art that takes time and practice. As Glamour shares, “Many of us tend to do a few massive decluttering projects each year—and feel like a massive failure when the stuff piles back up within a month. What’s more effective is to make decluttering something we do daily.” Even if you set aside 10-15 minutes a week to declutter or find a new home for items around the house – it’s saving you an exponential amount of time and effort in the long run.
Now that you have an understanding of the wealth of well-being and health benefits associated with cleaning and some tips to get you started, what does cleaning look like for you, and how can it fit into your lifestyle?