My Students’ Blog

Cleaning and Clutter

By Amy Fitzhugh

Cleaning and decluttering are on everyone’s list of “must-dos,” but it rarely gets accomplished. With so many differing views and opinions on how to do these tasks correctly, it’s hard to know if you are making the right choices. Which cleaning products are the best? Which are the safest? Am I washing my clothes enough? Am I washing them too much? With so many different questions, and that many more different answers for each one, it can be hard to know if you are really doing things correctly. I’m here to tell you, it’s much easier than it seems.

The most efficient way to have a cleaner space is to start by decluttering. To get rid of clutter is a lot more difficult than it seems. Marie Kondo has welcomed much fame and recognition for her ability to tidy up. She has achieved this ability by asking herself about the items in her home, “Does it spark joy?” This is the famous question in the Konmari method; if it doesn’t spark joy, she gets rid of it. Doing this ensures that your home will be filled with objects that bring joy. This will also allow you to let go of the objects that may be unknowingly causing stress, or may be causing detrimental feelings and emotions.

Clutter can cause unnecessary anxiety and stress. Decluttering your space also helps to declutter your mind. One way to help to declutter is to ask yourself not only does this spark joy, but when was the last time I used this? You may come to find that items you have been holding onto, haven’t been necessary for months or even years. Getting rid of clutter is the first step to cleaning your space at home or workspace.

Once the clutter is gone, you may find that it is easier to organize. Each item should have a home (Kondo). This way, cleaning becomes quicker and more efficient in the future. Cleaning has so often become moving junk from one place to another. Hiding away junk only pushes the feeling of stress to another time. Not to mention, anxiety tends to build in unorganized places, and productivity suffers when one is unorganized.

Scientists at Princeton University Neuroscience Institute have discovered, using fMRI and other sources, that the human brain likes order. Studies also show that those with clean and organized spaces have the ability to better focus, and remain focused for a longer period of time. This doesn’t even account for all the time you save by not having to search for those papers that you “Just had a minute ago!” Taking some time to organize your space in a way that works for you will provide lasting benefits both at home and in the workplace.

Organizing your home should be something that is personal and unique to those in your home. You should prioritize flow, and allow for easy access to most used things. In more professional spaces, organizational methods such as alphabetizing and color-coding are successful in allowing easy organization and access when needed.

Once your home is clutter-free and organized in a functional and practical manner, you can begin preparing your cleaning schedule. Realistically, you should have tasks that get done every day, some weekly, monthly, and even yearly. Marking these down in a schedule will ensure that things aren’t forgotten. 

You should start forming your cleaning schedule by listing all the cleaning jobs in your house, and then deciding the frequency in which each task should be done. For example, tasks such as vacuuming, sweeping, doing dishes, and making your bed should be done daily. Whereas, doing laundry, mopping, washing your bedding, and cleaning bathrooms should be done weekly.

After you have decided the frequency in which each room should be completed, a list should be made detailing what needs to be done in each room. When cleaning a bathroom, the list should contain tasks such as, scrubbing shower, wiping down counters, scrubbing sinks, scrubbing the toilet, wiping down any surfaces, cleaning mirrors, taking out the garbage, sweeping, and mopping. A basic bathroom will be clean by completing these simple tasks once a week. If done consistently, the cleaning should be easier and should only take twenty to thirty minutes depending on the size of the bathroom.

By accomplishing a couple chores a day, the time needed for each task is miniscule and much more enjoyable. One will gain the ability to accomplish chores in a smaller amount of time, which will lead to more feelings of productivity. Which, in turn, will cause more productivity. A simple task such as making your bed in the morning will start your day off with a completed task and will send you out the door with the right mindset. Chores that once seemed unbearable will eventually become a simple daily task that leaves you feeling relieved and happier.

 The exact products you use, or days you clean are not important. It’s just important to get the tasks accomplished in whatever way works best for you. Once you have developed your own personal system, the cleaning will no longer be such a daunting task. It is very important to understand the importance of decluttering, cleaning, and disinfecting as we all move forward from COVID-19. Perhaps, these three crucial things will be taken more seriously among all humans to ensure that we never have to experience this pandemic again in our lifetime. Cleanliness is crucial for mental and physical health. You will soon find that living clean is far more enjoyable than living messy.

Works Cited

Accompanying Slideshow

The Only Whole-House Cleaning Schedule You’ll Ever Need

CDC Guide to Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home

Cleaning Is Good for Your Mental Health, and Psychology Proves It

The Official Website of Marie Kondo

The Case for Finally Cleaning Your Desk