Picture this: You just stumbled through your front door after a long shift. To say you’re exhausted would be an understatement, so you peel off your scrubs, shimmy into some comfy clothes, and fling yourself onto your bed. The next day, you wake blurry eyed in the middle of messy chaos with past outfits decorating the floor, dirty dishes in the sink, and trash out willy nilly.
6 Ways Spring Cleaning Improves Your Wellbeing
We’ve all been there. I mean, seriously, for the first half of my life, “cleaning” meant shoving as much as I could into my closet and hoping Mom wouldn’t open it. But here’s the thing about messy spaces: They’re just not good for us.
When things are unorganized and cluttered around you, it can affect your mental and physical health, and not in the good way. Where there’s a mess, there’s more stress, mental clutter, and overstimulation. In fact, there are several studies that show people with more clutter have higher levels of stress because when you don’t feel comfortable at home, it makes it hard to relax. Weird.
Think your stress may be caused by a messy living space? Here are some signs to know for sure:
- You don’t cook because there’s too much on the countertop
- You’re always losing your remote, wallet, phone, keys, cell phone, etc.
- Your closet is full of clothes that you don’t (or won’t) wear
- You’re drowning in random papers
- You bump into things around the house
- You’re not sleeping well
- Your space isn’t as clean as you want it to be
So, with the spring season right around the corner, it feels like the perfect time to get down and dirty with some spring cleaning! Yeah, yeah—we know cleaning isn’t everyone’s favorite pastime, but check out the reasons why it’s well worth it:
No. 1: It gets you up and moving
Did you know that sitting for just a half an hour less a day reduces your risk for heart disease by a whopping 24 percent? Or that the cleaner your home is, the more exercise you get? Well now you know and knowing is half the battle!
As it turns out, cleaning is the perfect low-intensity workout. Especially if you have the right soundtrack! Crank up the motivational tunes and get to work. And if you’re really feeling the beat, incorporate some of your dopest dance moves into your cleaning routine! Think this scene from “Another Cinderella Story.”
And if that’s not enough to get your blood pumping, try out these household chores to really get you going and burn anywhere between two and seven calories per minute:
- Vacuum or mop your floors. For an added challenge, try a full lunge each time you reach the vacuum or mop forward. Then, bring your legs back together when you pull the vacuum or mop back.
- Scrub a dub dub dub. Show your countertops, sinks, bathtubs or showers, and walls who’s the boss.
- Give baseboards some needed TLC, aka: Tender love and care. When you focus on low spaces, you use various leg and core muscles that may not be used often.
- Carry items and put them where they’re supposed to go. Engage those muscles! When you carry an extra one to 15 pounds of weight and climb stairs, you can burn even more calories. Maybe you have clean laundry in a basket that needs to be put away in your bedroom upstairs or maybe you’re transporting bathroom cleaning supplies to the second loo. Whatever it is, remember to activate your ab muscles.
- Make your bed. It may seem lame and pointless because you’re just going to crawl back into bed tonight, but making your bed allows you time to stretch and give your body a break from more vigorous activity.
- Get your step stool out and prepare to reach. You’d be surprised how dirty windows can get! Get your whole body involved to stretch, reach, and climb on and off the ladder. Just be extra careful because it’s not a great feeling to miss the ladder…and yes, I’m speaking from experience.
- Tend to your yard. The weather is finally starting to warm up, so soak up some good Vitamin D, and pamper your yard. Start by weeding, pruning, or mowing, and before you know it, your yard will be in tip-top shape. And so will you!
Believe it or not, by doing a combination of these common household chores, you can burn up to 200 calories per hour! So, grab your cleaning supplies, and get jiggy with it.
No. 2: It helps you sleep nice and sound
Do you consistently toss and turn throughout the night? Or maybe you wake up mid-slumber and can’t get back to sleep. Whatever your troubles may be, have you ever thought it could be because of the clutter surrounding you?
I don’t know about you, but when my space is a cluttered mess, all I see is a never-ending to-do list: Fold the laundry, put the laundry away, make the bed, do the dishes, organize the paperwork; the list goes on and on. And, research shows that clutter increases cortisol, the natural stress hormone, which can make it feel impossible to fall sound asleep, even after a particularly hard day’s work.
So, if you’re interested in sleeping like a baby, follow these steps:
Clean your bedding
We’re talking pillowcases, shams, sheets, quilts, comforters, all of it. A National Sleep Foundation (NSF) study found that those who regularly wash their bedding get 19 percent better rest than those who don’t. Fun fact: The average person washes their sheets every 13 days, although experts recommend to wash them weekly.
Wash your mattress
Wait, what? Is this a thing? It sure is!
While your bed sheets are in the washing machine, use that time to give your mattress a good rinse. No, not literally. But mattresses collect environmental debris and germs, plus sweat, dirt, skin cells, and other micro-organisms that come from our bodies, so it’s a good idea to clean it every now and then, especially if you’re staying somewhere like a hotel where you know others have slept in your bed.
Give this easy, DIY mattress-cleaning recipe a try:
- Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda in a bowl
- Add up to 20 drops of your fave sleep-promoting essential oil (may we suggest lavender or jasmine), and mix
- Sprinkle the mixture over your mattress
- Let sit for 30 minutes
- Vacuum the mixture off the mattress
- Air dry mattress with a fan, if needed
And if you're one of the many travelers who uses an air mattress or air topper on travel assignments, guess what?! You can (and should) clean those, too! Here's how:
- First, vacuum the mattress to remove all debris, dust, and hair
- Then, wipe it down using a soft cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol. This will remove stains, sticky spots, and germs
- Dry it out! Make sure your air mattress is completely dried before putting it away or hopping into bed for the night. The last thing you want is a smelly, mildew-y mattress.
Organize your room
Treat yourself to a clean bedroom. That means putting clothes in the closet or dresser, tidying your shelves, dusting the walls, the whole nine yards. Think about how happy future you will be when you wake up to a nice, neat room.
Remove what you don’t need
We’re all guilty of collecting random things over the years, but now’s the time to bid adieu to what’s no longer adding value. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get rid of them permanently, but instead, find them a new home in a better storage place. Just make sure not to overfill your drawers or closets because then you’ll quickly be back to square one.
Let in the fresh air
Invite that good ‘ole outside oxygen into your space and open the windows while you sleep, weather permitting, of course. We wouldn’t suggest you open all your home windows during a rain or snowstorm, but the spring season should bring warm days and temperate, cool nights. So, give it a shot and crack a window. Studies show that an open window or bedroom door reduces carbon dioxide levels, which aids sleep significantly.
No. 3: It reduces the chance of injury
Fact: A stubbed toe is one of the worst types of pain in the history of ever. Okay, not really…but really! Another fact: You’re far more likely to stub your toe (or worse) when there’s a mess all around you.
Do yourself, and your housemates, a favor and go hard with the spring cleaning. Keep high traffic areas—like doorways and hallways—clear from clutter and firmly secure all rugs and cords to prevent accidental injuries. Because you spend enough time in a medical facility as it is.
“A clean home prevents injuries like slips, trips, bumps, and falls,” said Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, and an expert in public health and nutrition. “Having a clear path and removing obstacles in the form of backpacks, purses, shoes, sports equipment, or shopping bags and more can help reduce the risk of accidents.”
No. 4: It protects the immune system
Your body does so much to keep you going. The least you could do is your best to take care of it in return. And one way to do that is, you guessed it, by tidying up your space.
With springtime inevitably comes the loathed seasonal allergies. Dun dun dun. But allergies aren’t the only thing that can cause the sniffles and itchy eyes. Mold, dust, and pet dander tend to build up during the dry, cold, winter months when there’s less air circulation, so spring cleaning is just what you need to get your immune system up and running.
Be kind to your respiratory system and:
- Dust furniture, windowsills, and other hard-to-reach places
- Vacuum rugs, curtains, and floors
- Wash your bedding, blankets, and pillowcases (again)
Once you’ve given your home a thorough cleansing, try these ways to further prevent allergy triggers from being the roommate you never wanted:
- Take off your shoes at the door when you walk in
- Control indoor temperature and humidity
- Avoid scented cleaners, candles, and air fresheners
No. 5: It deters unwanted pests
Nothing’s worse than when you’re minding our own business in your home and all of a sudden, you see an army of insects invading your sacred space. Cue the disgusted gasps.
If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, here’s what you do: Spring clean. No, seriously. Bugs, rodents, and other unwanted pests thrive in messy environments. So, save yourself the nightmare and avoid the spread of bacteria and disease caused by these uninvited visitors. Here’s how:
- Sanitize the garbage can and fridge because that’s where food is most likely to spill
- Grab a bucket and a mop for your kitchen floors
- Wipe down food areas before and after you cook and eat
- Don’t wait to do your dirty dishes
- Properly store food in air-tight packaging
- Prune foliage that’s close to your house
Generally, places with food, moisture, or clutter are most likely to attract ants, cockroaches, mice, rats, flies, and other common household critters. So, all you gotta do is keep a clean, tidy space. Easy peezy.
No. 6: It can boost your mood and energy
It may seem counterintuitive because few people probably think: “Gee, I’m feeling down in the dumps. Oh, I know what will cure my sadness: Cleaning!” I mean, that’s definitely not my first thought.
“There are benefits like stress reduction and gaining a sense of control that cleaning up your space can offer,” said psychiatrist Gregory Scott Brown, MD. “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.”
We live in a fast-paced world where we want things instantaneously. You know, fast food, instant messaging, things like that. We want instant gratification and that’s exactly what you get when you see a messy space become clean right before your eyes. It’s simply satisfying.
“The areas of your life under your control send important nonverbal signals to you and everybody who sees them,” said Sally Augustin, PhD, to Cosmopolitan magazine. “When you present a home that seems tidy, visitors will take away that message that you lead an orderly life, and that will positively reinforce those aspects of your identity. You get a psychological boost from feeling proud of yourself.”
And you should be proud of yourself! Not only does it take a lot of motivation and energy to escape your winter hibernation, but it also takes self-discipline to get started and determination to later cross the finish line. Go you!
Tips + tricks for spring cleaning
It can feel like an uphill battle to get up and moving for spring cleaning. So, here are some tips and tricks to get you going:
Set a timer
You only have so much juice in your system, so you can only clean for so long! Get a timer, set a goal, and get to cleaning. Don’t stop until you’re saved by the bell!
Here’s the thing about cleaning: You don’t have to go all out for it to make a meaningful difference in your wellbeing. If a whole room feels like too much, start small with cleaning tasks like tackling the dishes or organizing your bedroom closet. Small steps lead to big rewards, don’t ya know?
An entire house, apartment, or hotel room can be a lot to clean all at once. Instead, focus on one room at a time. Start in the hardest room to clean like the bathroom or kitchen and then go from there. After you wrangle that initial beast, the rest of the spring cleaning will feel like a walk in the park.
You may only be in your temporary housing unit for a few months, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat yourself to a nice, clean living space while you’re there. Plus, not only does it feel good to be in a neat environment, but it also does wonders for your wellbeing. So, press play on your favorite playlist and get moving! You can thank us later.