Currently, thanks to COVID-19, we're all spending a lot more time at home. So why not make it a clean home? While we usually think of house cleaning as a chore (no pun intended), the health benefits of spring cleaning can be many, from bringing in some much-needed fresh air and a productive form of physical activity to even improving one's depressed mood.
We tend to think of health and wellness as a physical phenomenon, but mental health is just as important -- and your environment has a lot to do with both, from asthma to anxiety. It's no wonder we want to indulge in a bit of spring cleaning after the winter months; whether you're dusting or decluttering, spring cleaning has a ton of health benefits.
How Spring Cleaning Benefits Your Health and Well-Being
The physicians at Rush University Medical Center, based in Chicago, have conducted a wealth of research into the health effects of a messy house. Dr. Jennifer McDonnell notes that not only can messiness increase the likelihood of asthma attacks (whether due to allergens, pet dander, or mildew), but it can also create mental barriers as well.
The more stuff you have, the more visual distractions you have in your environment. That can lead to more mental distraction. In the era of coronavirus, when many of us feel under more stress and have more responsibilities than ever, it's extra-important to make sure that you feel comfortable and relaxed in your environment.
The clearest solution? A tidy house.
A Four-Week(end) Plan to Get Your House in Order
Spring cleaning -- or more specifically, decluttering -- can feel daunting, we know. So we've pulled together a four-week plan to help you clean house, divided into four weekend projects to make it easier.
Rather than the Marie Kondo method of tackling everything at once, one category of item at a time, this spring cleaning plan is set up by type of task. You know the cleaning rule that you should start at the top (like dusting the highest shelves) and work your way down (ending with vacuuming), so you don't have to double the work? This is a similar idea, with the biggest project first and smaller, easier projects later.
Week 1: Tackle A Big (and Overdue) Project
Yes, that means the closet (or garage, basement, etc). Pick the space in your home that feels the most disorganized or messy and start there. If you need some way to relax while doing this, put on the nation's latest Netflix obsession while you go.
As you go through your closet, den, desk, or more, divide everything you come across into three piles -- to keep, to toss, and to donate -- with three different containers to keep track. "Keep" can be a bin or basket -- something you already use to store your belongings. "Toss" is a trash bag, naturally. And "donate" might be something like a white kitchen bag (to differentiate it from the "toss" pile), reusable shopping bags, or a cardboard box.
We've found that Marie Kondo's "Does this spark joy?" method works well, but if that's not for you, consider the last time you used the object, the season or occasion in which you might use it again (if necessary, such as for clothing), and whether you need it vs like it. (Are you really going to wear 8 pairs of black boots this summer?)
Week 2: Declutter and Organize (or, Go Through Your Stuff)
Okay! So you know what you're going to keep and what you're not. This weekend is for figuring out exactly what to do with those things -- and where to put them.
Think about your daily routine at home: has it changed at all since the onset of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders? What does your morning and evening look like now that you are staying at home more? Do you find you use certain rooms less frequently or move about the home differently?
Use these insights to decide where and how to organize your things. Your goal is to make your home not just a clean one, but one that's best suited for your daily life.
Week 3: Deep Cleaning
In weekend #3, it's time for those household chores like scrubbing your now-tidy counters, dusting, and putting clean sheets on the bed.
Clean living isn't just a messiness issue, though -- the products you use to clean can have an impact as well. Subscription boxes like greenUP Box and Shun Fragrance send natural, eco-friendly cleaning products to your home for a more sustainable way of life, so you can keep a clean house inside and out.
Week 4: Spruce Up Your Home
You did it! In weekend #4, you get to the fun part: redecorating. Why not spruce up the place a bit with something new now that you've said goodbye to the old?
If you're feeling inspired to rearrange the furniture, redecorate your favorite rooms and generally give the place a new look, you've got a lot of options. Boxes like Succulent Studios or The Plant Club offer you the chance to deck out your deck, home office, kitchen table, or more with cute, easy-care plants that make it possible for you to grow a green space even without a green thumb.
Looking to jazz up the vibes indoors? Check out a home decor subscription to The Home Box, which sends 3-5 handmade, artisan-crafted home accessories and textiles, or Art Crate, which pairs you with a curator to hand-select pieces in your style to decorate your walls. Finally, top it off with an aromatherapy candle from Candle Therapy by Monterra!