Cleaning is often seen as a chore, so it may seem strange to associate it with increased happiness. Despite this, there have been many studies to show just how effective cleaning can be in boosting mood.
Interested? Here are five reasons to get cleaning:
Cleaning can improve focus
Having a clear and clean space can help in finding essential items quickly. Organising also minimises stress and declutters the mind – making room for goals and mental focus. Stephanie McMains and Sabine Kastner, psychologists at Princeton University, found for example, that clutter can reduce our ability to focus on a task. (Stephanie McMains, 2011)
Cleaning is rewarding
Sophie Scott, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London, agrees that tidying up, "whether that's colour-coordinating a bookshelf or overhauling a wardrobe, acts as a reward, which increases the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, also known as the brain's 'pleasure chemical' in the brain" (Griffiths, 2019)
Even just the act of cleaning, therefore, can potentially help to boost your mood! And the results at the end are rewarding too, as a tidy, clean space is perhaps more pleasant for work or rest.
Cleaning can aid your sleep
The National Sleep Foundation (National Sleep Foundation, 2012) carried out a survey where 68% of respondents rated a clean bedroom as important for a good night's sleep.
It is also generally thought that having a clean and tidy home can boost mental health, and an increase in mental health can contribute to better sleep. For instance, a study found that "Mindful dishwashers evidenced greater state mindfulness, increases in elements of positive affect (i.e. inspiration), decreases in elements of negative affect (i.e. nervousness), and overestimations of dishwashing time." (Hanley, 2014)
Cleaning can induce feelings of relaxation and mindfulness
According to a study by Darby E. Saxbe and Rena Repetti, a linguistic analysis suggested a stressful home was associated with clutter and a restorative home was associated with restfulness and nature. As well as this; "Women with higher stressful home scores had increased depressed mood over the course of the day, whereas women with higher restorative home scores had decreased depressed mood over the day." (Darby E. Saxbe, 2009)
To summarise, those living in restorative homes (tidier or cleaner) might have a less depressive or a more positive mood throughout the day. Word associations with restorative homes, nature and restfulness also suggest that keeping your home environment tidy can boost relaxation and calmness as well as potentially decrease stress!
Cleaning can improve physical health
According to An Indiana University study, "the inside of study subjects' homes had more to do with higher physical activity levels than the sidewalks."
This implies that people are more likely to get their daily dose of physical activity from cleaning than hitting the pavements for a walk or run!
So, it seems cleaning can improve mental and physical wellbeing, as well as sleep. Of course, a messy home can still be a happy one. But for a quick mood boost or some well-deserved relaxation, grabbing some sanitiser and cleaning, even just a little bit, might be the answer.
Darby E. Saxbe, R. R. (2009). No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol. Sage Journals, 71-81. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0146167209352864
Griffiths, S. (2019, May 15). Can decluttering your house really make you happier? Retrieved from BBC Future: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190515-can-decluttering-your-house-really-spark-joy
Hanley, A. W. (2014). Washing Dishes to Wash the Dishes: Brief Instruction in an Informal Mindfulness Practice. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-014-0360-9
National Sleep Foundation. (2012). 2012 Bedroom Poll. Arlington: WBA market research / National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/2012-bedroom-poll.pdf
Nicole Keith, Indiana University. (2000). Tidier Homes, Fitter Bodies? Indiana. Retrieved from https://newsinfo.iu.edu/web/page/normal/14627.html
Stephanie McMains, S. K. (2011, January 12). Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex. Retrieved from The Journal of Neuroscience: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3072218/