Your mother was right. You really do need to clean your room—and not just to get rid of clutter and find your long lost gray sweater. A new survey run on behalf of Clorox found that not only is your emotional and mental state linked to how clean your home is, but you can actually be more productive and less stressed in a clean home.
The report, conducted by Ketchum Global Research & Analytics and commissioned by Clorox, surveyed 2,008 adults across the United States. It started based off some pretty grim-sounding third party research: According to a Gallup poll, 79 percent of Americans frequently suffer from stress. Another 72 percent report feeling lonely (per a Harris poll), while happiness levels seem to generally be declining. Another Harris poll found the US to have dropped to number 19 from number 3 on the World Happiness Index in a span of just nine years.
While these findings are fairly depressing, there’s an easy solution: cleaning. That’s right.
Evidently, many of the nation’s woes can be solved with a simple vacuuming of the living room. The newest report found that simply being in the presence of a clean room can have positive effects on your emotional and mental state: Of the people surveyed, 72 percent reported better sleep in a clean home, 80 percent felt more relaxed, and 60 percent found their stress had reduced. A further biometric analysis found that participants’ happiness spiked after entering a clean space, and remained at a steady high. Conversely, the longer people stayed in a dirty space, the less happy they became.
As for the people actively participating in the cleaning, the rewards are even higher. Social capital—otherwise known as the willingness to help others in a community, generally associated with high empathy levels—seems higher among the participants responsible for cleaning. Their empathy increased by 64 percent. Those who enjoy cleaning found a 25 percent increase in happiness, and a 57 percent increase in social capital.
And despite your protests, there’s a very good reason why you had to do chores as a kid: People who helped out around the house when they were younger saw empathy levels increase by 64 percent, and social capital levels increase by 60 percent.
That said, looking at percentages is one thing, but actually putting the findings into practice is another. Which is why we asked Mary Gagliardi, Clorox’s cleaning and laundry expert, to give us some of her best tips on how to keep your home in top shape—thus keeping your stress levels low and your happiness high in the process. Here’s what she had to say.
What should people keep in mind for day-to-day cleaning?
Remember to focus on why you clean, not the mess. What possibilities does the clean space create? Thinking about a relaxing bubble bath instead of the soap scum, or family game night instead of the crumbs and clutter, will make cleaning feel less like a chore.
How about more in-depth cleaning—how often do you recommend a total deep clean? And what qualifies as a “deep clean” in the first place?
Typically, a deep clean is when you tackle bigger tasks or an entire room at once—like cleaning out the fridge, or a full bathroom clean from tub to toilet.
A lot of people do little bits of cleaning throughout the course of the week, so a total deep clean in every room of the house isn’t something that everyone does weekly. How often you should deep clean really depends on your schedule, how many people—and pets—you live with, and what rooms you spend your time in. Usually a deep clean at least once a month with daily quick clean-ups in between works well for many people.
What are the weekly cleaning chores to tick off the to-do list?
Tackle quick chores as you have time for them. Research shows that for every hour we clean in a week, our happiness increases by 1 percent. You’re happier, and the house is ready for fun and relaxation—it’s a win-win!
Throughout the week, you can disinfect bathroom and kitchen counters, and sweep, mop, or vacuum the floors. Once a week, clean your toilet and the shower or bathtub, dust furniture, and wash your sheets and towels.
Is there a particular room that should be paid more attention?
Focus on the spaces you spend the most time in. Ninety percent of Americans say it’s important for their kitchens to be clean, which makes sense, because it’s the heart of the home. When the kitchen is clean, it’s a place where you can connect with your friends and family; whether you’re cooking dinner, doing homework, or just enjoying a glass of wine and conversation.
How can people be more efficient with cleaning chores? Is there a particular strategy that works best?
If you clean a little bit each day, you’ll have more time to focus on the things that matter most.
If you have kids, make it a fun family activity to do together. Research shows that cleaning teaches kids critical empathy, compassion, and connection skills. Whether you’re having a family dance party while cleaning up the playroom or a scavenger hunt to pick up toys, cleaning is an opportunity to set a positive example, and it can make things go a little quicker if everyone pitches in. Find small chores even the littlest members of the family can help with, like tossing clothes into the laundry basket in a game of laundry basketball.
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