Spring cleaning is one of those love/hate things--possibly a bit like exercise for some of us. There's a good chance you dread doing it, but the end result is worth all the effort! The tradition of scrubbing down the household at winter's end is centuries old, and spans continents and cultures.
Fast forward to the 1800's, when keeping homes warm and well-lit during the winter left a layer of soot and grime in every room, and the only way to properly clean up that mess was to throw open the windows and scrub everything down. These days, modern advances make it so that we don't have to combat with the refuse and dirt of centuries past, but there's still value in an annual refresh of our homes. Here are some health benefits you and your home can enjoy from traditional spring cleaning.
Cleaning is a mood boost and a stress reducer. Cleaning may seem like repetitive, mindless work, but such tasks actually give your brain a chance to relax and de-stress. A home that smells fresh and looks neat and tidy actually boosts endorphins and the brain and increases energy levels. Science is behind us on this one: one study revealed that having a clean home provided both short and long-term positive benefits for mental health including immediate improved mood and overall reduced the risk for depression. And the same study shared the finding that women with messier homes have higher levels of cortisol (the so-called "stress hormone") than those with tidy houses.
A clean living space increases your productivity. We might laugh over A.A. Milne's observation that, "One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries." That constant state of discovery can, unfortunately, be a drain on your time and energy--not to mention your ability to focus. A study in 2011 from The Journal of Neuroscience confirmed this using MRI’s to track the brain’s response to cleanliness and found that more clutter significantly limits the brain’s processing capacity. The takeaway from that is that decreasing clutter can decrease distractions and increase your overall productivity--not just at home, but in all of life's arenas. When you are less distracted by extra things piled up in your home, you are freeing up mental real estate that allows you to concentrate on any given task more fully.
A clean bedroom improves your sleep. This benefit is closely tied to the previous one, because nothing enhances your productivity like a good night's sleep, right? If you've been thinking of your bedroom simply as a space to crash at night, think again. This is another space where tidiness pays off. Clutter in the bedroom makes it hard to shut down your mental to-do list and relax, just like it does in the rest of the house. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a survey that revealed that just making your bed in the morning boosts your chances of getting a good night’s rest by almost 20 percent. Sheets with a pleasing scent have also been shown to improve rest. So, if you are having trouble sleeping, start your annual spring cleaning by clearing the clutter from your bedroom, changing your sheets, and maybe try a natural room spray.
Cleaning up your house encourages healthier eating. This one might seem like a stretch, but stay with us on this one. We've already mentioned the correlation between a messy house and increased levels of stress and cortisone. One of your body's natural responses to stress is to crave quick carbs and sugars--most of which aren't high on the scale of what's good for your body. Not only can a clutter-free space help curb cravings, it's also scientifically proven to encourage better food choices. Believe it or not, a study from 2013 conducted at the University of Minnesota found that when people were put in a clean and orderly space, they were more likely to choose healthier food options than those placed in a cluttered environment.
Cleaning supports your immune system. Dust, mildew, mold, pet dander and even bugs can be big immune system triggers for people prone to allergies, and we hate to say it but.....cluttered homes tend to gather a lot of these pollutants during the winter months. The more items you have, the harder it is to dust and sanitize. Some doctors even claim that indoor air at the end of the winter is potentially more polluted than the outdoor air we're breathing! Reducing clutter reduces allergens and germs, resulting in an immune system that's not under constant attack. That means you'll be better prepared to fight the viruses and bacteria that come your way from elsewhere when your home is neat and tidy.