Cleaning. From weekly laundry to the breakfast dishes, it’s something we’ve all had to do. The activities of daily living are a constant slide towards entropy, filled with items that must be used and then returned to their proper places. But beyond the apparent benefits of cleaning — always knowing where your things are — science is beginning to show us surprising ways in which it can improve our lives. Cleaning might actually be good for you, and in more ways than one!
Cleaning For Your Physical Health
Cleanliness is good for you. The less dust, mold, and environmental allergens you are exposed to, the better. It isn’t always easy, especially for those who have pets or small children. These life events usually require a step up in the effort put into cleaning, and have a learning curve that includes Googling things like “how to get peanut butter out of an iPhone” and “what is the best carpet cleaner for pet urine?” But the benefits of fighting that good fight against the clutter might be more far-reaching than you think.
In a study conducted by research scientist NiCole R. Keith, Ph.D., it was found that people with clean homes are healthier than people with disorganized homes. Not only was there a strong correlation between cleanliness and cardiovascular health, but it was an even stronger predictor than factors involving exercise! Cleaning isn’t only good for keeping dust our of your lungs and LEGOs out from under your feet; it might be good for your heart, too.
Cleaning For Your Mental Health
The scientific journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin published a 2010 study which used linguistic analysis software to categorize the words and phrases used by 60 people when discussing their living spaces. They found that those who described disorganization were more likely to suffer from depression and fatigue than those who used positive words invoking freshness and an area free from clutter.
A lack of motivation to clean is one of the classic symptoms of depression, and a common result of fatigue is the neglect of household chores. This study suggests that this cause and effect may actually be a self-perpetuating cycle, and that some extra effort around the house could be the first step to breaking out of it. That’s not to say that cleaning is the only treatment for depression, but instead could be an important part of a therapeutic routine, both addressing a symptom and treating the underlying cause.
Cleaning For Your Emotional Health
A study by Dr Kai Kaspar of the University of Cologne demonstrates that something as simple as washing your hands can make you more optimistic and confident, and can even reduce negative feelings associated with failure. The act of cleaning, it seems, can extend beyond the physical and into the emotional. When you’re washing something clean, you can remove more than the surface dirt. You can remove your own negative connotations, a quite literal “clean slate.”
Taking this idea one step farther, WholeLiving.com cites cleaning as a chance for meditation and reflection. With the proper mindset, the repetitive act of cleaning can change from a resented chore to a physical ritual with as much significance as morning yoga. It can be either a chance to live in the moment, fully experiencing each item cleaned and set right, or a task that can be given over to muscle memory to allow the mind time to wander. Cleaning can also be a way to feel in control, both over the task at hand and the overall environment.
The importance of regular cleaning cannot be overstated. These proven benefits impact every area of life, to say nothing of the peace of mind you feel when an UberEats driver or UPS employee happens to catch a glimpse of your tidy living room! The narrative around cleaning is slowly changing for the better, from an irritating nuisance to a stepping stone to better living.