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Clean Home, Clear Mind



— November 15, 2017

Clean Home, Clear Mind

  • That long-overdue spring cleaning can yield myriad benefits
  • By: Linda Melone

Springtime signifies fresh, new beginnings, a theme that carries over into living spaces as days warm up. And science tells us the very act of spring cleaning and getting rid of clutter benefits the mind and body.

Clutter benefits the mind and body. In fact, decluttering your kitchen can even help you lose weight, according to research published in Environment and Behavior; in the study, women who were asked to wait for someone in a messy kitchen ate twice as many cookies as women who waited in the same kitchen when it was organized. Spring cleaning may also help you focus better.

Cluttered surroundings limit your brain’s ability to process information, according to one research team’s findings in The Journal of Neuroscience. Apparently the chaos a messy room creates restricts your ability to focus—similar to the way a toddler repeating candy, candy, candy, candy, over and over again would distract you while you’re trying to concentrate.

Spring cleaning tactics differ for each person, especially if you’re into high-tech living. In fact, a large part of spring cleaning includes upgrading and updating technology, particularly for those living in smart, tech-connected homes, says Dorothy Breininger, organizing expert featured on A&E Television’s series “Hoarders” and founder of

For example, robot cleaners such as the iRobot Roomba have replaced traditional vacuum cleaners in modern homes, says Breininger. “So spring cleaning involves checking the rollers and dirt bin, and making sure you’re setting up the right [cleaning] time,” she says. If you live in a smart home, change the battery on any smart faucets, which operate by touch, and do a walk-through to ensure all sensors work properly.

For selfies and photos taken at home it’s aesthetically appealing to showcase clean lines and highly organized spaces, says Breininger. “You may also want to do a ‘before and after’ shot to post on social networks.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to start by decluttering countertops:

» Designate an area for food prep and do not allow clutter to accumulate in this area.

» Set aside another area as a “drop-off zone,” where it’s fine to drop off things such as bills, keys, change and the like, as long as you regularly clear out the area.

» Avoid keeping items you use infrequently in the “prime real estate” sections of countertops, but instead store them in high cabinets and other places that may be hard to reach.

» Neaten up your coffee station by keeping your K-cups in a cabinet right above the coffee maker for easy access.

Before you pick up a broom to clean the rest of the house, declutter each room. “Think ‘delete, delete, delete’ before you clean, clean, clean,” says Breininger:

» Start each room by going from left to right, top to bottom.

» Dump out all junk drawers onto a towel or sheet in the middle of a room; get rid of all mismatched earbuds, power cords and other technology you no longer use or need.

» Use a mesh lingerie laundry bag to clean kids’ small stuffed toys, which can go right into the washing machine.

» After you clean out your clothes closet, hold a party and ask everyone to bring 10 to 15 items they don’t want, says Breininger. “Make it an ‘auction’ where others ‘bid’ on your items in exchange for their own items. It’s a fun way to exchange clothing, and designate one person at the end to bring any remaining clothes to donate.”

Waxing poetic on the strategies and music that help spring cleaners declutter

Megan MacNee, 30, of Sacramento, California, uses a unique organizing tip that helps her decide which clothes to retire at the end of winter. “Each season I turn around all the hangers in my closet, and then the next time I go to do it get rid of most, if not all, of the items that I never turned the hanger around, meaning I never wore it.” Also, this year MacNee is following Emily Ley’s 30-day simplicity challenge. “Day one started with taking a trash bag and picking up your clutter, I did it while watching the football game and ended up with two bags of trash and one to give away in 15 minutes.” MacNee’s musical motivation? “Right now it has to be ‘Hamilton’!” she says. “No matter what I’m doing it motivates me and, especially for something that can seem mindless as cleaning, it keeps me entertained while I get the jobs done.”
–Megan MacNee, founder & editor, Traveling Nine to Fiver (, @traveling9to5er)

“I spring clean by choosing two places in my house each month and concentrate on organizing,” says Elyssa Bumcrot, 30, business owner and hair stylist in Coto de Caza, California. “For example, one month it’s going to be my pantry and playroom. When I set the goal of decluttering or organizing, I end up tossing a lot of unneeded things and it feels so good.” To get motivated to clean, Bumcrot listens to Top 40s pop hits while she cleans. “My husband absolutely hates it but I really need to listen to something mindless that can stay as more background music. If it’s too deep or serious then I get sidetracked. It’s also fun to dance while cleaning. The upbeat music is motivating and keeps me going.”
–Elyssa Bumcrot, owner of Salon Plum

Kiera Lacy, 34, of Trout Creek, Montana, starts her spring with a mantra: “Clean out everything! I start with the kitchen by getting rid of things that I don’t use often such as a citrus squeezer or straws that have been in the utensil drawer for six months. I clean the walls, the moldings, lighting fixtures, cabinet doors, under the stove and under the fridge. I do the same thing through the rest of the house, especially the closets in all the bedrooms, bathroom cabinets, and utility rooms. It usually takes me about five days straight of scrubbing, organizing and throwing things out to get my house done for spring.” Lacy’s music of choice? “It really depends on my mood, but most of the time I will put on 90s music, mostly rock or pop. I need something that I am familiar with and doesn’t require me to pay attention.”
–Kiera Lacy, owner of Big Sky Virtual Assistant

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