6 Reasons Not to Skip Your Spring Cleaning Session This Year
Spring 2018 is already well underway, but unusual weather patterns this year may have removed many of the external stimuli that would typically trigger your annual seasonal cleaning session. After all, if winter never actually arrived (or it’s unhelpfully just starting to dump fresh snow on you NOW, when by all accounts your favorite flowers should be in full bloom) you might feel reluctant to start boxing up those black tights and fleece vests. We get it!
That’s why we wanted to weigh in with a friendly reminder: it’s not too late for an epic spring cleaning sesh! Here are six reasons doing a deep, thorough spring cleaning is actually really good for you—environmentally, physically, and psychologically as well.
1. Farewell Germs + Allergens
From a microbial perspective, there are SO many reasons to do a deep cleaning in the springtime. Even if it’s been a relatively light winter, we all spend more time indoors during the colder months. That’s more time we’ve all spent touching the various surfaces of the home—often with germy cold-and-flu fingers!
And even if closed windows have kept environmental impurities outside, your internal heating system has been efficiently distributing dust, pet hair, dead skin cells and other things you don’t want in your lungs. Particularly for those prone to asthma or spring allergies, now’s the time to be proactive about cleaning.
2. De-Cluttering Reduces Stress
Each of us has a unique relationship to the “stuff” in our lives—and a different definition of clutter. “It’s about balance,” says Peter Walsh, an organizational expert and former host of TLC’s Clean Sweep series. “If you have so much stuff it drags you into the past or pulls you into the future, you can’t live in the present. Walsh divides clutter into two types: memory clutter (ticket stubs and other mementos of past events) and someday clutter (items we don’t want to toss because we might need them someday).
But regardless of the type, physical clutter overloads the senses, crushing creativity and feeding anxiety. In fact, a recent UCLA study observing 32 Los Angeles families found that mothers experienced a bigger spike in their stress hormones when dealing with their belongings than when interacting with their kids.
3. Clean Desk = Productive Days
Whether you can’t find a specific blouse in your closet or file in your cabinet, it seems pretty intuitive that excess “stuff” in your environment would have a negative impact on your ability to stay focused or process information. But you might ask: what about all of those successful people who love their messy desks?
As it turns out, they had better clean up! A team of Princeton University neuroscientists studied people’s task performance and productivity in both organized and disorganized environments—and found that physical clutter competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and decreased stress.
4. Marie Kondo Knows What’s Up
Beyond the obvious—a cleaner house, fresher air and potentially more room to move—deep-cleaning may have profound psychological benefits that are harder to measure. That may be why Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing consultant and author of The Life-Changing Magic of of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, continues to hold cult-leader status around the world.
Kondo’s real magic may lie in her ability to at once acknowledge the emotional power that objects hold for us—and yet still ultimately let many of them go. It all starts with the simple question: does this item spark joy? If it doesn’t, she suggests that you thank it for its service, and let it go without further thought.
Kondo recommends that you start with items that hold less nostalgia, like clothing, before progressing to memory-rich items like books, toys and photographs. She offers tips for successfully parting with on-the-fence items, and even strategies for aesthetically organizing what’s left. The result: a very thorough, ultra-satisfying deep-cleaning you may only have to do once during your lifetime.
5. Clean House = Cleaner Diet
Hopefully, your spring cleaning will also include a thorough scouring of your pantry and fridge; this is the perfect time to check expiration dates for longer-shelf-life items like salad dressings and spices. A messy, cluttered kitchen will certainly make cooking more stressful—and even potentially lead to weight gain.
Wait...what? Yep! Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that people in clean, orderly rooms were more likely to make healthy snack choices than those in a messy environment. And back to organization expert Peter Walsh for a second; after noticing a correlation between clutter and obesity, he wrote an entire book on the subject (Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?). A recent study confirmed the correlation, finding that people with messy or cluttered homes were 77% more likely to be overweight.
6. Endorphins are Your Friend
As anyone who’s put real elbow grease into their housework knows, cleaning can be exercise. So, put on some 90s hip-hop (unless you’re doing an official Kondo cleanout, which forbids music) and put your back into it; a 150-pound person can burn nearly 200 calories an hour. What’s more, a recent health survey in Scotland found that the simple activity of deep cleaning—vigorous activity, for a minimum of 20 minutes—reduced stress by as much as 20%. Clean house...healthy body...happy YOU.