It was evident from our first week living together after we returned from our honeymoon that I had married a real “neatnik.” That meant everything in its place, bed made in the morning, dishes washed after every meal, and nary a speck of dust ever in evidence.
I always thought that I was pretty neat as a bachelor and I was always pleased to show my place whenever I invited a friend in, but wasn’t sure that I passed muster when I invited my then-girlfriend, future wife, over for the first time. She noticed that dust bunny under my sofa, then looked in my underwear drawer (imagine?) and saw that my whites were not properly whitened as they should be. Obviously I needed a woman’s touch to take me to the next level of super clean.
When we had our first couple of apartments, we always did our own cleaning and bought an arsenal of cleaning supplies to help us, but once we bought our first home, we employed a cleaning service which we maintained through the years. But since moving recently to a condo, we’ve been doing the job ourselves again, because it’s so manageable and enjoyable. Yes, enjoyable. Therapeutic, actually.
Research maintains that a clean house makes people feel happy, satisfied, comfortable and healthy. According to Carol Nemeroff, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, spring cleaning may have been in existence for ages.
“This psychological boost may be derived from an urge to clean out our nests, a trait that is biologically programmed into us,” says Nemeroff. “And, because we know that good hygiene leads to good health, cleaning may ultimately be related to a basic survival instinct.”
A recent survey done by a cleaning product company revealed that a good way to keep your house cleaner was to become more sociable and invite friends over more frequently, and I thought that was a cute idea. After all, it’s for guests that we really want to shine.
That led me to research an entire spat of surveys that reveal all kinds of information about the benefits of cleaning our homes. And that in turn led to scores of advice columns about how exactly to keep our houses in tip top shape.
By taking a close look at 1,000 different homes, Indiana University’s Physical Activity department found a direct correlation between the cleanliness of a home and the owners’ level of physical activity. Associate professor Nicole Keith, who led the study concluded, “The interior condition of their house seemed to be the only thing affecting their physical activity”
Indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and the average person will spend 90% of their day indoors. This makes the cleanliness of your home that much more important, because it will have a huge impact on what you breathe in.
According to the American Cleaning Institute, 38% of women and 24% of men say they suffer real stress when they feel they are living in a messy environment and that cleaning relaxes them. Psychologists have found that there’s a marked difference in mood before and after cleaning chores, just as with a therapy session.
Actually, you can even quantify and qualify just how happy you can be by which cleaning chore you do around the house. Seriously. In a study done by the Soap and Detergent Association that examined household cleaning habits and behaviors, 1,013 American adults (507 men and 506 women) were asked which chores made them the happiest or gave them the most satisfaction.
The results of the survey showed that respondents felt most satisfied and happiest about shiny floors (21%), which tied with a tidy toilet (21%), followed by clean countertops (20%), a sparkling shower (15%) and a spotless sink (7%).
Another survey done by the same association revealed the interesting statistic that, nationally, only 12% of us use a regular cleaning person or service, but 18% of us would consider doing so, while 8% of us get help only for spring cleaning. Fifty-three percent of us say that we don’t use a cleaning service and never would consider doing so.
But whether we do it ourselves or have someone else do it for us, it seems that the benefits of a clean home hold firm.
So if you’re at home feeling a bit down, may I suggest that you give yourself a boost by shining up that floor or cleaning the toilet?
Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com, and his blog is www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.