How Spring Cleaning Might Give Your Health a Boost

Healthy Living

March 30, 2021

Spring cleaning season has arrived. Sweeping and scrubbing may not make your list of warm-weather fun, but these activities can pay big dividends for your home, your body and your mind. 

And with a cleaning plan on your side, getting the house ready for spring might be less challenging than expected.

The Health Benefits of a Clean House

Good looks aren’t the only reason to make your house spic-and-span. A clean house may also offer some health benefits. How so? 

Well, for starters . . .

Cleaning is a form of exercise.

While sweeping and vacuuming won’t take the place of your regular exercise sessions, these everyday chores can serve as a convenient way to burn a few extra calories

Spending 10 minutes dusting your shelves could work off 33 calories. During a 5-minute bed-making session, you might zap 11 calories. And sweeping and dusting could burn 40 calories for every 10 minutes that you do it. 

Together, these tasks amount to about 84 calories for a 25-minute cleaning session — not too shabby.

Of course, not everyone burns calories to the same degree, but you get the idea. Over time, small cleaning tasks can add up to big calorie-burning payoffs.

Scrubbing sessions also banish germs.

Why let illness-causing microbes linger in your home any longer than necessary? A good scrub-down could keep these germs at bay.

The kitchen is one place where it’s especially important to address bacteria. Contaminated sinks, refrigerators, counters or cutting boards can lead to foodborne illnesses.

Other spots in your home that could use sanitizing sessions include bathroom sinks, remote controls and wherever you store the family’s shoes.

A tidy home may tame your allergies, too.

Dust, mold and other allergens can do a number on your respiratory system, even if you’re not actually allergic to these things. But for people with specific mold or dust mite allergies, these allergens can be even more burdensome.

Cleaning your house may provide relief. Mayo Clinic recommends the following cleaning tips for reducing allergens in the home:

  • Sweep the carpets with a vacuum that uses a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
  • Wash window treatments and scrub the frames and sills.
  • Toss expired food from your refrigerator.
  • Shampoo or machine-wash throw rugs, bath mats and wall-to-wall carpeting.
  • Repair leaky plumbing.
  • Remove mold buildup around tub and sink fixtures.
  • Launder bedding, including comforters, in hot water regularly.

Using a HEPA filter in your heating and cooling system and maintaining a 50% relative humidity level can also help reduce allergens in your home throughout the year.

Freshening the bedroom may promote better sleep.

If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, the secret to better rest might be as simple as straightening up your bedding.

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), many people report getting a better night’s sleep when their sheets are fresh and clean. The organization recommends weekly or biweekly washing of sheets and pillowcases. But if you have heavier bedding, quarterly or semiannual washing may be enough.

The NSF also suggests that daily bed-making can encourage restful sleep. Your spring cleaning session could be the right time to deep clean your room in preparation for a new bed-care routine.

And organization may reduce accidents.

More than 8 million people visit the emergency room after an accidental fall each year. Even worse, falls are responsible for about half of the accidental deaths that happen in the home.

According to the National Floor Safety Institute, falling accidents don’t usually happen from a height. Ground-level falls, such as those caused by tripping over hallway clutter, can be just as dangerous, especially for senior citizens. 

Falling accidents can cause fractures, brain injuries and spinal cord damage.

Spring cleaning gives you the chance to remove hazards from your floors. Pitching unnecessary items and organizing your belongings into boxes or baskets can help you forge clear walking paths throughout your home.

Finally, clearing the tangible clutter may help clear away some mental cobwebs.

A fresh, clean space not only helps you breathe better literally. It may also help you breathe a little easier metaphorically. In fact, in one study, over half the people claimed that having a cluttered house contributed to their stress levels.

When you look around your home and see a mess, you’re reminded of just how many tasks are on your to-do list. During your downtime, you may find it hard to calm your brain if there’s disorganization all around you. Plus, you might frequently spend precious minutes trying to dig up one item or another that’s gone missing.

Taking on a spring cleaning project may help reverse those trends. 

You could even start to feel more in control of your surroundings as you introduce a new organizational system. And you might feel less anxious and more focused, too.

Strategies for Spring Cleaning

How do you start spring cleaning? Well, accept that it needs to happen first. Then make a plan.

There’s no one right way to go about spring cleaning, so it makes sense to pick an approach that matches your temperament and preferences. 

If you need a little push to get started, the following suggestions may help you develop the plan that’s right for you.

Start with easy projects.

The “snowball” mentality works for lots of things in life, including cleaning. When you’re ready to take on spring cleaning, start small. 

You might be tempted to start by knocking out one of your largest tasks, but that can backfire on you.

Big projects can consume a large chunk of time. Once you start digging in, you might discover that the task is more involved than you’d expected. You may even make a bigger mess along the way toward getting your space in order.

Once you tackle this challenge, you’ll probably feel accomplished — but also exhausted. It could be hard to muster up the initiative to start another project anytime soon.

Instead, consider starting with smaller, more manageable tasks. Knocking out one simple task after another can feel just as satisfying, and you can work your way up toward larger projects.

Oh, and make a list before you get started. Go room by room and jot down what needs to get done. As you complete your tasks, cross them off. It’s a nice visual that will keep you motivated to continue.

Target one room at a time.

If your goal is to get the whole house in top shape, consider breaking it up into zones first. For example, do the kitchen one day, and focus on the bedroom or the entryway another day. 

Transforming one room from a cluttered mess into a spotless showroom in one fell swoop could bolster your sense of accomplishment at the end of a cleaning session.

As you clean a room, start at the top and work your way down. There’s no sense in sweeping and scrubbing the floors until after you’ve dusted the ceiling fans and wiped down the counters.

Break the job up by tasks.

If the one-room-at-a-time approach isn’t right for you, try a task-based approach instead. Choose one job, such as dusting cobwebs or wiping down windowsills, and carry it out in every room of your house before moving onto the next task. 

If you have multiple family members pitching in, each one can handle a different job.

A cleaning caddy may help as you move from room to room. You can load it with any necessary supplies — for example, glass spray, paper towels and microfiber cloths — to make your progress through the house as efficient as possible.

Commit to clearing clutter.

By removing a little bit of junk from your home every day, you can start to make a dent in the amount of stuff filling your house. 

Looking for a little motivation? The 40 Bags in 40 Days initiative encourages participants to fill one bag per day during a 6-week period in the spring. You can challenge yourself to do something similar at any time of the year.

Some bags that you fill might be destined for the landfill. Other items might be suitable for charitable donations, passing on to a friend in need or selling through online platforms. Any approach can work as long as it moves items out of your home and makes space for cleanliness and organization.