- Experts say doing a thorough spring-cleaning of your home has a number of health benefits.
- For starters, a clean home can strengthen your immune system and help you avoid illnesses.
- A decluttered house can also reduce stress and depression as well as help avoid injuries.
Spring-cleaning this year has taken on greater importance than simply kicking off the season of renewal with a clean, decluttered space.
Many communities are already stemming the COVID-19 outbreak by upping their hygiene and cleaning regimens — and spending more time in their homes.
Cleaning and organizing the space you spend most of your time in can keep your immune system strong, boost your mood, and offer a task that promotes focus and reflection during a trying time.
“When we envision spring-cleaning as a time to rejuvenate our inner and outer world, the cleanup process can be incredibly enlivening rather than being a tiresome chore,” Carla Marie Manly, PhD, a clinical psychologist, told Healthline.
Here are five ways you can benefit from spring-cleaning this year and expert guidance on what tasks to prioritize.
The blossoming of plants outdoors is a celebration of renewal — of seasonal allergies, that is.
Beyond keeping allergies at bay, a clean house can help you breathe better by preventing respiratory issues and supporting a healthy immune system.
“Dust, mold, mildew, pet dander, and other things like this can be immune system triggers for people prone to allergies. When your house isn’t clean, it can gather pollutants — especially during the winter months,” Dr. Adrian Cotton, chief of medical operations at Loma Linda University Health in California, told Healthline.
How to clean for immune health
- While you should aim to clean regularly to avoid immune system triggers, spring-cleaning can be an opportunity for a deep clean, according to Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, an expert in public health and nutrition. “Dust the legs of furniture, tops of frames and mirrors, tops of lamps and lights, floor baseboards, railings, and window sills that may be more out of reach,” she said.
- Vacuum all rugs, floors, carpets, ceiling cobwebs, and curtains well to eliminate dust and keep the air cleaner.
- Wash all bedding and blankets. Put pillows into the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any dust mites.
- Take off your shoes at the door to avoid carrying in dirt and dust from the outdoors throughout your home.
Whether you’re temporarily stuck indoors, work from home, or are having a tough time getting to sleep, your mental health can benefit from keeping your space tidy.
“You may very well find you think, feel, and sleep better with a clean, less cluttered space. Also, the process of sorting through items, reorganizing, and getting rid of the excess by tossing, donating, or recycling them can be mentally refreshing and liberating,” Bazilian told Healthline.
“When we clear clutter, it has the potential to clear our mental space and attention span,” noted Tricia Wolanin, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and organizing expert.
“I have had many clients mention that if there is mess within the home, they will continue to ruminate on the disarray that need to be sorted versus focusing on a conversation or concentrating on anything else. When they clean their house, it begins to minimize their stress and sleep issues,” Wolanin told Healthline.
How to declutter for mental health
- Don’t just stack your magazines into piles or hide unworn clothes under your bed. Sort through clothing, toiletries, and paperwork. Get rid of things that no longer serve you to make room for things that bring pleasure and joy, Wolanin says.
- To promote good sleep and relaxation, keep only essentials on your bedside table, says Bazilian.
- Embrace cleaning itself as a way to de-stress. “Cleaning can provide an opportunity to practice being mindful of the tasks you’re doing, promote a positive attitude and clear mindset,” Cotton said.
Cleaning things you touch a lot — or several people use often — can help you avoid illness and minimize the spread of viruses and bacteria.
Thwarting foodborne illness should also be a priority in the home.
“There is a more constant patrol of keeping things clean now [with coronavirus concerns], but it is also a great thing to tackle all those major contact points and deep-clean during spring,” Bazilian said.
“Keeping surfaces and sinks and items such as cutting boards clean can improve food safety, which helps minimize foodborne symptoms or illness,” she said.
How to clean to prevent illness
- “Clean the items you use most, or items that could come in contact with your mouth, eyes, or nose. That may include your cellphone, keyboard, bedding, and towels,” Cotton said, adding that to protect against the novel coronavirus, sanitize surfaces with alcohol-based cleaners.
- “It is important to tackle several different areas in the kitchen, such as the fridge and freezer, pantry, counters, cupboards. It can be overwhelming to do all at once, so schedule each task separately for a deeper cleaning,” Bazilian said.
- Deep-clean the sink every day, as it can harbor more bacteria than a toilet.
- Wash all your produce to prevent foodborne illness and promote good health.
- Clean bathrooms and other places that are shared with family members more frequently.
Your physical home can set you up for an active life and healthy food choices — or make movement and sticking to nutritious meals more difficult.
Spring-cleaning can also motivate us to reset or try out a healthier lifestyle.
“When we clear out in the physical realm, it can inspire to begin to cut out what no longer serves us, such as unhealthy relationships, or our relationship to food, technology, or other substances,” Wolanin said.
How to organize for healthy habits
- Make cooking more appealing by sharpening knives, tidying your spice rack, and organizing pots, pans, and utensils.
- Store healthy foods at eye level in clear containers, and place unhealthy foods out of sight.
- Donate workout clothes you rarely wear, and organize your favorite activewear in a separate drawer for easy access.
- Open windows every day to circulate fresh air in and stale air out, Bazilian recommends.
More than 1 in 4 adults over age 65 fall each year, leading to 3 million emergency room visits, according to the
Spring is a great time to make adjustments to your home, or an older parent’s home, to reduce the risk of falls.
“A clean home helps prevent injuries like slips, trips, bumps, and falls. 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,” Bazilian said.
How to clean for a safe home
- Prioritize cleaning clutter from pathways, hallways, and staircases.
- Secure rugs and repair any other tripping hazards, like loose floorboards.
- Cords are a major tripping hazard — even for the most spry of us. Tack cords to baseboards, or reroute them along the wall to eliminate the risk of tripping on one.