Why Do We Clean?

When most people clean their house—or have it cleaned—they clean with 3 main reasons in mind:

  1. Tipping Point: (The obvious reason) It’s just too big of a mess to ignore anymore, and they’re sick of it—tripping over laundry, fishing the remote out of the couch.
  2. Image: They’re concerned about image, and how their home looks to visiting friends and neighbors.
  3. Upbringing: Or, they were taught to clean up the house “X” times a month, drilled in by their parents, and managed to follow through on “X-3” times a month.

But there is one important motivating factor that often gets left out of the lineup of why we decide to clean—toprotect our health. We don’t take it into account seriously because we can’t see the actual germs building up, just the dishes. Even with a house full of clutter right under our nose, we can’t see its negative impact on our health. And when we do start feeling run down and unhealthy, we tend to attribute it to more tangible things, like someone coughing nearby on the subway, or that stressful project at work. Because we’re “too tough” for it to otherwise be something as simple as a home brew of bacteria and distraction.

Avoiding the Vicious Contamination Circle

So, after that cough on the subway, you might tote around some anti-bacterial in your purse or pocket, or wash your hands. But the thing about washing your hands is, you’ve got to touch the faucet before and after. Do you remember to wash your faucet? How much stuff do you touch and contaminate with germs before washing your hands, only to get the germs back on you later when you touch them again?

The point is that having good personal hygiene is not enough to stay healthy; you need to keep your surroundings clean, too.

There’s an old adage that “cleanliness is next to godliness.” There’s some truth in that. Keeping a clean house can have a positive effect on both your physical and mental health.

Physical Benefits of Cleanliness in the Home

Cleaning down surfaces, especially kitchen surfaces where the risk of cross-contamination is high, can help reduce the risk of E Coli, salmonella, listeria, and other food poisoning, viral, and bacterial infections. Check out this list from the Center for Disease Control for their favorite hiding spots.

Dr. Leigh Vinocur on ShareCare paints a picture of the gravity of these home-grown germs, and why it’s important to clean your kitchen:

“There are invisible dangers lurking in our kitchen. The CDC estimates that there are 76 million cases of food borne illnesses each year which send about 325,000 people to the hospital and cause 5,000 deaths yearly.”

Plus, if you have little kids in the house whose immune systems are less mature, it makes sense to pay extra attention to keeping surfaces and floors clean. Young children will put anything in their mouths, climb on and gum the counter, and can get into everything.

Besides germs, there are also plenty of allergens in the air to think about. Dusting and vacuuming more regularly and shaking out the carpets can improve the quality of the air that you’re breathing all the time.

Mental Benefits of Cleanliness in the Home

If bacteria is the pollution of the body, clutter is the pollution of the mind. Having your stuff in constant disorder and chaos has a direct impact on your mental stress levels. And mental stress isn’t good for your body, either. While it’s not a clinical study, this article from Care2 draws some solid connections between clutter and attention deficit disorder (ADD) and depression.

If you want a more authoritative viewpoint, check out the study conducted by the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute. Researchers found a direct, scientific correlation that clutter hampers your mind’s ability to focus.

Also, consider these effects of everyday clutter build-up:

  • Money on the Mind: If your kitchen island is a dumping ground for stuff from 3 months ago, you’re that much more prone to an overdue bill.
  • Less Time, More Rushing: How much time would you save if you weren’t constantly looking for your keys, wallet, cell phone, remote, shoes, etc?
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind: If your reminder sticky note is buried under everything else, you’re not going to remember whatever it was. Clutter makes our lives more fragmented and fraught with forgetfulness.
  • War of Attrition: Even if it’s not building up, a messy room that screams “deal with me” every day eventually drains your brain and fatigues you.
  • It’s All Connected: In general, if it isn’t put away, (like dishes or dirty laundry) it could be spreading germs. The inverse is also true–if it’s not cleaned up, like dishes, it’s going to add to your clutter.

It’s curious that, in a society where personal health is so important, it’s so easy for Americans to forget the value of clean surroundings. We’re so mobile and busy that we skip over dealing with the germs and clutter in our own home.

If you’re cleaning up just because you have to, chances are you’re hitting just the tip of the iceberg. Realizing the health benefits of staying clean, it’s a good idea to have your house professionally deep cleaned and/or cleaned more often.

Contact Immaculate Clean today for a deep cleaning or routine cleaning to help improve the overall health in your home.