Posted on July 29th, 2018
Most of us already know that obvious messiness—think piles of unwashed dishes—is a magnet for pests, mold, and bacteria. What’s less apparent, however, is all the ways in which even mild or moderate untidiness can lower our quality of life. In fact, sometimes it’s the blemishes we don’t see, like hidden mold and dust mites deep inside our carpets and upholstery, that have the most profound impact on our health. This is why regular deep cleaning is so important; it gets to the root of these problems before they have a chance to get out of hand.
The advantages of a clean home go beyond just better breathing. Research indicates that cleanliness can affect everything from our mental health to our fitness level. If you need a bit of motivation to get you in a scrubbing mood, check out the many surprising health benefits of a clean home outlined below:
5 Important Ways a Clean Home Can Improve your Health
1. A clean home has been shown to reduce stress and fatigue.
The more information our brains have to process, the sooner they get tired. It’s therefore unsurprising that continually having to look at (and sort through) a lot of clutter leads to reduced concentration and mental fatigue. Poor indoor quality also contributes to chronic fatigue. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is usually about five times more polluted than outdoor air. The effect of this pollution is so pronounced that people working in poorly ventilated office buildings have been shown to suffer a temporary reduction in their IQ.
Living in a cluttered home has a negative effect on the psyche as well. As psychiatrist Dr. Rian Rowles explains, “When you live in a messy home, you are subconsciously reminded of work that needs to be finished and visually, your eyes do not have a place to rest. Too much clutter can cause tremendous stress and fatigue. When things take longer to find, or can’t be found, stress levels rise, and so does your risk for illness.”
To prevent these problems, clean your home thoroughly at least once per week, and try to air it out every few days (preferably at night, when there are fewer vehicles on the road). Consulting a professional cleaning agency that specializes in identifying sources of indoor air pollution is also a good idea.
2. People who live in clean homes are more physically fit.
Perhaps because having a clean home raises energy levels, people who live in tidy abodes tend to exercise more often. A study done at Indiana University found that people who live in clean homes were more likely to meet their fitness goals and maintain a healthy body weight, even when other lifestyle factors (e.g., diet, smoking habits, etc.) were accounted for. These findings are supported by research conducted at Cornell University that revealed people in clean homes are usually leaner and less likely to crave sweet or carbohydrate-rich foods.
3. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, having a truly clean home can reduce your symptoms.
Contrary to popular belief, one of the worst allergy (and asthma) triggers dwells indoors, not outdoors. At least 30% of the adult population is allergic to dust mites, and in susceptible individuals, allergic reactions to these microscopic critters can set off serious asthma attacks.
A home that looks superficially clean can still harbor millions upon millions of dust mites. Because they’re so tiny, these creatures can invade mattresses, furniture, and carpets, getting down deep where conventional vacuums can’t touch them. The only way to keep dust mites at bay is to have your carpets and upholstery cleaned professionally (in addition to regularly vacuuming them). Most experts recommend that you have this done every month if you have severe allergies or asthma, but if your symptoms are more mild, scheduling professional cleanings every three to six months should suffice.
4. People who live in uncluttered homes have fewer accidents and emergencies.
If you have children, elderly people, blind, or partially sighted individuals in your home, even a bit of clutter can become a serious trip hazard. Clutter is also extremely problematic from a fire safety perspective. As Gary Bettenhausen, Bureau Chief of EMS from the Oak Lawn Fire Department, warns: “Falls and fires are two leading causes of injuries and deaths inside the home. Tripping over objects and slipping on slick surfaces can cause head injuries and broken and sprained limbs, which can result in a trip to the hospital emergency room.” Furthermore, “Clutter can easily hasten the spread of fire and hinder your ability to escape or to be rescued.”
Untidiness can contribute to fires starting, too. Piles of laundry that get too close to radiators or heating vents, for instance, frequently lead to fire.
5. People who live in clean homes get sick less often.
While some ailments (like the common cold and flu) are typically tracked inside from the office or public transit systems, many illnesses can potentially begin within the home… And the source of this problem is far from limited to obvious culprits like the bathroom or your moldy basement. The most common source of illness within the home is actually the kitchen, even though it’s an area most people wipe down daily. There’s simply too many hard-to-reach places in most kitchens, explains infectious disease specialist Dr. Stephen Sokalski. “The kitchen is a prime area for germs because of the many crevices that can hold water or splatters of food… [And] you would be surprised to know how many raw foods grow disease-causing bacteria on their surface before cooking.”
Dr. Sokalski recommends wiping down counter tops with bleach after preparing any kind of raw meat. You should also sanitize all of your cooking and cleaning utensils after each use. If you have asthma, or children or pets in your home, talk to a professional cleaning agency about how to sanitize your kitchen using safe, “green” cleaning solutions. Bleach and other conventional disinfectants can potentially harm the health of vulnerable individuals.
With the right techniques—and a bit of help from the pros—you can turn your home into a healthy, happy environment. Though regular deep cleaning takes effort and discipline, the rewards are well worth it.