Ways Spring Cleaning Can Improve Your Health

Each and every spring, it seems as though there's a fresh start awaiting all of us. After all, there's so much to look forward to once the weather starts to get a little warmer. The sun stays out longer, the ocean is practically calling your name, and spring cleaning is finally in full swing. Yes, cleaning is something we're pretty excited about. If you never thought it was something you'd choose to do, you should think again.

A cluttered space can really clutter your mind (via WebMD). Spending time cleaning it all up can instantly make you feel better, and science has even proved this to be true. While scrubbing floors and dusting doors may not seem like much, these simple actions can create major results — both in your mind and in your body.

When the weather starts getting warmer and the flowers start to bloom, you'll know it's the best time to grab your mop and bucket and form some healthy habits. Here are a few of the ways that spring cleaning can help improve your health.

Spring cleaning can lower your stress levels

If the idea of cleaning up your space stresses you out, here's something to consider: Spring cleaning can actually help lower your stress levels in the long run. In a survey of 2,000 participants conducted by OfferUp, 54 percent of Americans admitted that a clean home makes them feel even more relaxed than before, and 61 percent said they felt "de-stressed" after cleaning (via PR Newswire). We can certainly relate. Not only do we all feel stress from our mess, there's some scary science behind it, too.

One study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in 2009 found that women with cluttered homes had higher levels of a chemical called cortisol in their bodies. Cortisol, more commonly known as the body's stress hormone, can do a lot more than just make you feel tense. Too much of it can eventually lead to long-term problems like anxiety, insomnia, and heart disease (via Mayo Clinic). That's right. It's time to scrub, scrub, scrub your way to a less stressful and healthier life.

Cleaning up your home each spring can help prevent injuries from a potential fall

Clutter can be enough to make any person feel some mental anguish. If you find that it's overtaking your house each year, it could actually cause you some physical pain too. The piles of stuff all over your home can become a serious tripping hazard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every five falls calls for an urgent hospital visit. Cleaning up all the clutter in your home each season could easily prevent you from acquiring a twisted ankle or broken leg — not to mention a hefty hospital bill. In 2015 alone, fall-related medical costs exceeded $50 billion. Worse yet, tripping and falling over something is the most common culprit when it comes to traumatic brain injuries.

While you may think you're safe if you're someone who stashes your stuff away in drawers, you still shouldn't skip spring cleaning. In addition to piles of junk, loose pieces of carpet or even your favorite rug can also cause falls. Each season, it's important to take a good look at what's all around you in your home.

Spring cleaning is an easy way to get a good workout

Spring cleaning can help you transform your life in many more ways than one. Actually, it can save you a trip to the gym each day. Besides simply cleaning up the area around you, getting up and getting moving by participating in spring cleaning is a really simple way to get an easy workout in, too. By spending 30 minutes washing the windows in your home each season, you'll burn somewhere around 167 calories. Moving your furniture to the other side of the room so you can sweep under it will drop you another 100 calories in only 15 minutes (via Shape).

While it's easy to get a workout while you're cleaning your house, don't think that simply dusting will help you drop some serious weight or tone your muscles. The more steps you get in as quick as you can will help keep you healthy when it comes to cleaning (via WebMD).

Spring cleaning can improve your mood

If you find yourself feeling bummed out, it may be the best time to pick up a scrub brush. Interestingly, studies have shown that spring cleaning of all things may be the cure-all to an unhappy mood — and it's a lot healthier than enjoying that tub of ice cream, too.

One specific study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in 2009 found that women who had cleaner homes felt less down over the course of the day. While researchers attributed this to lower levels of stress hormones in their bodies, there's still another reason why a cleaner home is a happy home.

Certain scents, which can be found in various types of cleaning products, can have a big effect on how you feel. A study published in Scientia Pharmaceutica in 2016 put exactly this to the test. Participants' brain waves were measured after inhaling specific scents. After reading their results, it quickly became obvious that certain aromas elicit a more positive mood. Orange, in particular, was one that caused people to instantly feel happier and even calmer than before.

You may get sick less often if you take part in spring cleaning

While wiping off your counters each day may keep germs at bay, there are still some hidden dangers in your home that could be making you sick — especially if you aren't keeping up with annual spring cleanings.

A study conducted in 2013 by NSF International found that there were very specific places that people were forgetting to clean routinely. The compartments in a refrigerator — a space that is usually forgotten about until the time for spring cleaning rolls around — were found to contain some of the most germs in any household. In fact, the amount of salmonella, mold, and listeria found in the study are enough to cause some of the most serious foodborne illnesses.

Each spring, it's important to take the time to clean spaces you wouldn't normally pay attention to throughout the year. Dark and damp places, like your bathroom and your basement, need the utmost attention in order to keep you from getting unnecessarily sick (via ABC News). Who knew that spring cleaning could be the cure to a stomach bug?

Spring cleaning could put a stop to your allergy symptoms

Once spring has sprung, that means your annoying allergies probably have too. One of the easiest ways to keep the sniffles away is to participate in spring cleaning. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, spring cleaning can actually make your symptoms less severe each season. Not only is getting rid of dust helpful, but doing so can make it harder for even more to accumulate and set off allergy symptoms. Something as simple as swapping out your air filters or vacuuming pet hair up from under your furniture can help alleviate your allergies over time.

Another big problem for those susceptible to springtime sneezing is mold. Make sure that any moist areas in your home that don't get cleaned often — such as areas of the bathroom or even your refrigerator — are completely cleaned out each season. Throughout the entire year, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends keeping the humidity level in your home below 60 percent to avoid this problem altogether. While dusting may make your allergies act up in the moment, you'll thank yourself for cleaning up in the long run.

A clean house can lead to a clean diet

A clean house can be a big influence for you to eat clean. One 2016 study published in the Social Science Research Network placed participants in two separate environments. Some spent their time in a cluttered kitchen, while others were working in clean kitchens. Additionally, "participants were also asked to recall and write about a time when they felt particularly in control or particularly out of control." Each group was then given a set of snacks. The participants who were in an out-of-control mindset and spent their time in cluttered kitchens were more likely to snack on unhealthy foods like cookies compared to the participants who were of a more in-control mindset and were in clean kitchens. 

How exactly can clutter make you crave junk food? A study done by researchers at Cornell University in 2015 found that it has a lot to do with what's available to you on your countertops. When you have tons of clutter — such as boxes of snack foods — on the counters in your kitchen, you're more likely to reach for them throughout the day. You know what they say: An apple a day — or, you know, a good dusting — keeps the doctor away.

Spring cleaning can improve your concentration and accuracy

A cluttered space can cause a cluttered mind, so it only makes sense that spring cleaning can help out when it comes to concentration. A study from 2011 published in the Journal of Neuroscience put this to the test. After reviewing multiple MRIs from participants, researchers found that clutter can actually distract the brain from focusing altogether. With all of the stimuli it's seeing, it can make it especially difficult when it comes to working on a specific task.

A second study published two years later in Management Decision found that you'll actually make more mistakes when you're in a messy workspace. When researchers asked participants to complete a task, the ones that were in cluttered rooms were able to complete them — but with a lot less accuracy. If you work from home, consider cleaning your office or workspace each spring.

You're more likely to be in shape if you clean your house

If you're someone who participates in spring cleaning, you're much more likely to be fit compared to those who don't. According to a study performed at Indiana University, people who had cleaner homes were more likely to exercise (via IU News Room). "At the end of the day, the interior condition of their house seemed to be the only thing affecting their physical activity," NiCole Keith, associate professor in the Department of Physical Education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said of the study. "It was not at all what we expected."

While researchers aren't exactly sure why this occurs, there are a few reasons people who clean could be more fit. For one, cleaning can count as a solid exercise. While it's not as intense as something like a five-mile run, getting up and getting active is a lot better for you than sitting around on the couch surrounded by clutter.

Another reason could be the fact that deep cleaning your home demands some serious self-regulation, which is a trait that those who workout regularly possess (via Time). After all, spending an entire afternoon cleaning your house instead of relaxing with a TV remote in your hand isn't how everyone would choose to spend their Saturday.

Spring cleaning can improve your heart health

While you are focused on running from room to room cleaning up your space, your heart is benefiting all the while. Since those who have cluttered homes are less likely to get up and get active, it only makes sense. We all know that sitting on the couch for extended periods of time isn't healthy, but it can't be that bad, right? Well, one study published in Clinical Epidemiology in 2017 found that these consequences can actually be quite serious.

Researchers found that by simply replacing 30 minutes of time spent sitting down with time spent lightly exercising – which can include spring cleaning — each day can significantly reduce your chances of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Luckily, practically everything involved in spring cleaning is great for getting your blood pumping. You may not "heart" vacuuming, dusting, or mopping your floors, but your heart surely will.

You may sleep better after cleaning your house

There are so many ways that spring cleaning can improve your health. In fact, its effects can even be felt while you're fast asleep. In a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, the majority of respondents said that a clean room is essential when it comes to falling asleep easily each night. It only makes sense. If you're surrounded by clutter, it can make it difficult for your brain to focus on dozing off.

Another damper on your dozing could be due to all that dust accumulating. Because people, on average, spend one-third of their lives in bed, it's important that your bedroom is clean. Some of the things you're surrounded by every night don't necessarily get the attention they deserve until the spring rolls around — such as the curtains, ceiling fan, blinds, and even the baseboards (via The Better Sleep Council). 

Over time, dust that accumulates in your lungs can cause permanent damage. In fact, long-time damage to your lungs from something as simple as dust can even lead to lung disease (via the Lung Health Institute). Yikes! "While the body has numerous defense mechanisms to handle dust," the Institute explained, "there is a chance the dust will reach the lungs." And the more dust you're around, the greater your risk.

Spring cleaning could just help prevent or lessen depression

Wiping down your windows each spring doesn't seem like it should bring a smile to your face. However, in all seriousness, some studies have shown a link between being in a house full of clutter and depression. Cleaning, it seems, could just help.

A study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in 2009, for example, found that women who were surrounded by mess felt more depressed over the course of the day. They also had a lot more cortisol (a chemical that develops during high-stress situations) coursing through their bodies. 

Cortisol isn't inherently bad. When a circumstance arises in which you have to face a crisis, cortisol kicks in, giving you a burst of energy in order to protect yourself (via WebMD). While certainly necessary and helpful for your body in crises, cortisol isn't meant for constant use. Over time, high amounts of cortisol can have you feeling jumpy, and it can contribute to developing serious issues such as depression, WebMD explained. Consider spring cleaning to keep your stress in check.

You're more likely to live longer if you participate in spring cleaning

If cleaning up your house could add years onto your life, would that be enough to convince you to do it? Well, it turns out that it actually can — so get to cleaning! A study published in 2019 in The BMJ found that something as simple as cleaning could, in fact, be the answer to a longer life. Researchers concluded that only 24 minutes of light exercise each day can really add up. Those who did it on a daily basis were much less likely to die at a young age.

Additionally, a 2017 study published in Clinical Epidemiology found that replacing a half-hour of sitting with "light-intensity" physical activity can lead to a "significant reduction in all-cause mortality risk."

Luckily, you don't even have to leave your house in order to get some light exercise. A good workout can include vacuuming or even unloading your laundry — as long as you're getting your body moving and your blood pumping (via Shape).