Stuck Inside? Learn How to Reap the Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning

April 10, 2020

Spring cleaning isn't just a chore. While it may not sound like it would benefit your health, experts suggest that it can in several surprising ways. Learn how a home "refresh" can actually boost your physical, mental, and emotional well-being with Dr. Vishal Phakey, Family Medicine Physician at Jefferson Health in New Jersey, below:

Chores can count as your daily physical activity.

Many household chores can be fairly labor-intensive. Checking just a few tasks off your list can be as beneficial as taking a jog around the park. Just 30 minutes of any vigorous physical activity, which can include vacuuming, has shown to improve stamina, normalize heart rate, and decrease the risk of heart disease by 28 percent.

However, if a chore is too labor-intensive, or out of your comfort zone, don’t push yourself (i.e., if you’re short, you shouldn’t climb on furniture to reach high spaces, or if you have back or joint pain, don’t bend over to get the job done). Asking for a helping hand can help prevent injury.

Clearing the air can help clear your lungs.

There are many factors that can lead to poor indoor air quality, such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, and smoke. Dusting, sanitizing surfaces, and vacuuming are simple chores that can greatly decrease triggers (and lead to less reliance on medication) for people with asthma, allergies, and COPD. It also helps to keep pets properly groomed; clean out your air conditioner and dehumidifier; and make sure rooms are properly ventilated.

Decluttering the house can help declutter the mind and improve sleep patterns.

Cleaning and organizing help decrease our cortisol levels, which is a prominent stress hormone, leaving us feeling accomplished, refreshed, and motivated. Taking care of basic chores can also decrease subconscious stressors, which may increase productivity and improve quality of sleep. Seeing a mess throughout the house, whether we realize it or not, can make us think about all the things we have to get done. If you go to bed with fewer worries to contend with, you’ll be much more relaxed and may fall asleep earlier and stay asleep longer.

Cleaning out the fridge and pantry can promote healthier eating habits.

When we declutter our homes, cars, or offices, we remove anything that we consider unnecessary junk. In the fridge or pantry, this might include old Halloween candy or stale chips. If you fill up this new space with healthy foods, it’ll likely encourage you to continue to eat healthy and even exercise more. Additionally, tossing out expired goods can help prevent foodborne illnesses.

Frequently cleaning the kitchen and bathroom can help prevent illness.

Surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom, where there is a lot of humidity and moisture, are breeding grounds for harmful germs, including staph, salmonella, E. coli, fecal matter, and mold (which can be especially dangerous to individuals with asthma or lung diseases). They should be cleaned thoroughly at least once a week. Some of the most important surfaces to clean in the kitchen are cutting boards, coffee pots, countertops, and the sink. In the bathroom, you’ll want to focus on the shower/tub, faucets, the toilet and surrounding floor area, and toothbrushes.

Remember, if using powerful cleaners that omit mists or vapors, it’s recommended you wear gloves, face masks, and goggles. You should also open a window if possible. If any chemicals are ingested, contact Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) as soon as possible.

Organizing wires can prevent injury and fire hazards.

Almost everywhere we look there’s another electronic item with a cable attached. It’s important to make sure they’re properly stored, rather than strewn about. Cables running across the floor are a tripping hazard for people of all ages, and cables that are bunched too tightly together are a fire hazard. Be sure to run cables neatly, behind furniture, as much as possible; this also helps keep them out of reach of both children and pets.