It’s that time of year again in the American South – the weather is changing, and by that, I mean on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. You wake up in the morning in need of a winter coat, by lunchtime you’re in shorts and a t-shirt, and in the evening, you’ll definitely need pants and a light jacket. This barrage of wardrobe changes is bound to remind you of the steadily inclining summit of your clothes mountain, or perhaps you opened the fridge this week and found containers full of science projects, or as they are more affectionately named, “leftovers”.
Whatever tipped you off, you are now feeling like it is time to throw open the shutters, roll up your sleeves, and scrub the grout that you noticed getting moldy in the bathroom. On the other hand, you may notice the clutter around you and a desire to deep clean does well up inside, only to be dashed by the thoughts that “things are never going to change anyway” or “so what if you clean today? It’ll just be messy again by tomorrow”. You may be asking yourself “where do I even start?”. You may be wondering just what good a good spring cleaning can do anyway. It seems like a lot of effort for very little reward.
Regardless of where you find yourself this spring, there are many benefits to tidying your space. This article will explore some of those benefits, and will also provide some tips and tricks along the way. It is my hope that you will find encouragement and value in this article. Let’s get cleaning!
1. Spring Cleaning can boost your mental health!
Whether you are removing junk, putting things in their designated homes, or giving a good sweeping, cleaning and clearing clutter can greatly improve your sense of peace and improve your overall mood. Mess in our physical space can often create, or serve as evidence of, mess in our minds. Oftentimes when we are stressed or anxious, we can look to our environment as a potential source of that anxiety. A sense of peace is just one way cleaning improves mental health.
Cleaning can also improve your sense of control. Similar to the idea of peace, a messy room or messy house can leave you feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Decision paralysis can sink in as you wonder where on earth to begin, and what to actually do when you get there. The task seems monumental at first, but it is possible to overcome this issue, and when your space is tidy, that sense of control often returns.
2. Spring Cleaning can have a positive impact on your physical health.
Mental health is not the only area of improvement you can find when you begin cleaning. There are physical health benefits as well! One such benefit is that of burning calories. It is normal and natural to “nest” a bit during the winter. We often celebrate holidays and eat more food – and rich food at that, and the colder weather encourages us to stay indoors and hunker down. Cleaning, vacuuming, and other such exertions can burn hundreds of calories an hour and release the associated endorphins (which helps boost mood!).
Another physical benefit of cleaning your space is simply airing the space out – anything from drying out moldy spaces to removing the dust and debris that has been collecting on surfaces, reducing radon counts, and improving air quality. All of these positively impact your breathing and your physical health.
3. Spring Cleaning can positively impact your finances and your community!
One benefit of decluttering and spring cleaning is realizing what you do and do not need. Old clothes, appliances, furniture, etc. can all be resold or given away to a community organization. Apps such as thredUP, Poshmark, and letgo are easy ways to resell your items. You can hold a garage sale or yard sale, and this may also be a good time to clear out your garage or storage unit. If you don’t have to pay to store your things, that is money that you can save on a monthly basis. Donating your items to friends, family, or community organizations is also a great way to put your things to good use in a new home and free up physical and mental space in your own life.
4. Tips for Maximizing your cleaning efforts.
Make a plan: The first recommendation is to start before you start. Making a plan is a proven way to increase the likelihood of success, or at least completion in your favor in any endeavor. It is setting yourself up for success. This plan can be extremely detailed or extremely loose. Using a method like KonMari can give you a framework. With this method, you begin with clothing and work through all of your possessions until you get to the sentimental items. As you declutter, you find it easier to really decide on what things “spark joy” in your life, and what things do not. Whether you use a method, or you simply say that you’re going to go room by room and clean top to bottom, having a plan in place gives you a framework, a goal, and a way to measure your success.
Make it fun and family-friendly: There are a number of ways to make cleaning and tidying fun. There are apps that turn your chores into an adventure or a quest, giving you points and allowing you to level up a character. You can race your spouse or your kids to see who can complete their task first, and you can try things like the 30-Day Minimalism Game where you give away a number of items that correspond to the day of the challenge (i.e., Day 1 you give away one item, Day 7 you give away seven items, etc.).
Spring cleaning can be intimidating, it can seem pointless, or perhaps you’re struggling with where to even start. Overall, there are several important benefits, and there are many little tips and tricks you can do to make it easier to get started, and easier to finish well. Throw open some windows, and get cleaning!