What makes cleaning so satisfying? The psychology behind cleaning

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Satisfying cleaning videos and photos are becoming increasingly popular over social media. With videos such as pressure washing videos where you can physically see the lines of dirt being removed one by one, or sink and bathroom cleaning, there really is a LOT of enjoyment from cleaning videos. But why? And why does cleaning itself bring such satisfaction? Here is what we found out…

Patterns and organisation

Humans naturally look for patterns and organisation. Our environment determines our actions, perception and health so having a sense of organisation and knowing exactly where things are is essential to feel at ease in the environment we are in. Cleaning helps us organise and understand the area around us as well as giving us clarity in where things are when we need them. With a clean bedroom, you can see space around you, no clutter on the floor, and your mind is at ease as your environment poses less ‘danger’ and is exactly as it should be.

Sense of pride:

Cleaning can be hard work, but a tidy, clean environment is the best reward you could get. The aesthetic appeal of a spotless room is enough to motivate you to clean, and the fact that you put in the hard work gives you a sense of attachment to the room and the act of cleaning it, essentially: enjoying the results of cleaning motivates you to clean more. Mess and dirt in rooms may often correlate to shame – especially in front of others. For some – especially those who really struggle with the act of cleaning, or the mental motivation it takes to clean – this mess can lead to isolation from others. So it is crucial to offer support to people who struggle with cleaning.

Physical activity:

Just like sports, cleaning releases endorphins. The physical activity you are doing, whether it’s running up and down the stairs with vacuums and buckets, washing windows, or mopping the floor, cleaning involves some degree of physical activity. Endorphins influence opiate receptors in the brain, and so increase feelings of pleasure and reduce feelings of discomfort. Therefore, as more endorphins are released, you tend to feel happier and more content as you clean.

Effects of the pandemic

Believe it or not, there has been a great increase in cleanliness since the start of the pandemic. Surveys have found more people are aware of the importance of cleanliness since the covid-19 pandemic started. Lockdown, and frequent isolations have meant all of us are spending a lot more time at home, this means we are in our home environment more often, with more time, and more awareness of the need to be clean so, cleaning may feel much more important to us and may bring even more satisfaction than ever before. 

As well as this, all across the globe government officials and organisations increasingly talk about the importance of cleaning. In the UK, the phrase ‘Hands, Face, Space’, or reminders to ‘wash your hands for the duration of happy birthday’ have made it very clear that cleaning and good hygiene are crucial to prevent the spread of the virus. Cleaning has never been as significant as it has been during this pandemic, and the act of cleaning, or peace of mind that you are in a clean space, are bringing even more satisfaction.