The Psychology of Cleaning for Peace of Mind


Sandeep Singh

Do you often get the sudden urge to clean and organise? Sometimes it’s your body trying to recalibrate and reset by creating a clean and organised environment. Research shows that cleaning can help you feel relaxed and more focused, and it can improve your mood and your mental state.

Cleaning can be a daunting task, and while you may want to buy a cleaning robot like the rumba to make it easier, a vacuum cleaner from the Home Depot flyer is cheaper and might do the trick to start good cleaning habits.

So, let’s get into the psychology of house cleaning.

In 2014, the Mindfulness journal released a study showing that people who washed dishes mindfully said that they felt less nervous and more inspired afterwards.

For some people, having a clean and organised house helps them to feel relaxed. It’s a welcoming space, especially after a busy or overwhelming day.

Have you ever wondered why mopping the floor is so calming? Or why doing the dishes sometimes feels so therapeutic? Repetitive activities can have a calming effect. Cleaning also can help you to feel like you are in control of your environment, even if there is lots happening in your life.

What are positive effects of cleaning?

It can help you feel relaxed

Research shows that cleaning (or a lack of it) can have an effect on your mental health. Clutter and mess are linked to some negative emotions such as tension, confusion and irritability. When your mind feels cluttered and tense, walking into a space full of clutter can make you feel more overwhelmed and anxious. When you clean, its a way of taking control of your environment and creating a space that is relaxed and calm. The less mess around you, the more grounded you feel.

It impacts your physical health

Clutter and mess in your room can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Reducing clutter then helps you to have a clear mind before you go to bed. Studies have also proved that making your bed every morning and regularly cleaning your sheets can positively affect your quality of sleep. Maybe the key to more energy in the morning lies not in your cup of coffee but in a clean and relaxed environment.

Having a clean house also means you can reduce dust allergies and get rid of bacteria before it reaches your immune system and makes you sick. It can also be a form of exercise. Think of the repetitive and vigorous movements like scrubbing the tub or the shower, or lifting storage boxes and moving furniture around.

It can improve focus

Cleaning can improve your concentration and help you combat fatigue. Too much clutter in your workspace can make it difficult for your mind to concentrate and process information, which can make you feel restless and distracted.

On top of that, crossing your home cleaning off your to-do list can help you to be your best self. It will motivate you to complete the rest of your goals and positively impact your self-esteem.

Why does cleaning improve mood?

Cleaning reduces anxiety, stress, and some depressive symptoms. It may not feel good when you start, but your brain processes cleaning up as a reward, and releases the feel good hormone dopamine afterwards. An organised and fresh environment is also something that lifts your mood because it’s one less thing to worry about.

Does cleaning count as self care?

Cleaning has a direct correlation to how you feel about yourself. Your outer surroundings can be a reflection of what is happening inside. If you are feeling depressed, overwhelmed or overworked, your surroundings will almost always show. Although getting help from family or a psychologist is the most important thing, cleaning can help to lessen your anxiety or stress. It’s a way to care for yourself by creating a cleaner and more organised environment.

So, how can you develop the habit of cleaning?

Start with small tasks. You could start by spreading your bed daily and committing to picking up clothes and putting them in a laundry basket or in the closet. Then you could pick up toys or objects in the living room the next day and put them away. You could get your kids to help by giving them an incentive for picking up their toys. Then the next day you could clean the kitchen counters and the bathroom sink and shower.

If the thought of even starting is daunting, try setting a 15 minute timer every day and doing as much as you can, then stopping when the timer goes off. Before you know it, you will have managed to tidy up your house bit by bit in a week.

You can ask your family for assistance with the more difficult tasks if you are having trouble or feel overburdened. Alternatively, if you have the money, consider hiring someone to assist you with proper cleaning during the week.

If you’ve discovered that cleaning can and is, giving you peace of mind, read more of our tips on How to enhance your overall appeal.