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Spring Cleaning and Indoor Air Quality

 

 

For many, Spring indicates the beginning of something new, a fresh start - a time to clean, dust and organize yourself, especially after a long winter.


What is Spring Cleaning?

Did you know spring cleaning has a lot to do with human biology? 

We are less active and motivated during the cold winter days because our behaviour is bound to the cycle of seasons. Due to lack of sunlight during winter, our brain produces larger amounts of melatonin, a chemical responsible for making us sleepier! So when we finally start seeing more sun, it's like waking up from hibernation. 


The practice of spring cleaning is especially common in climates with a cold winter, where many conduct an annual deep clean of their homes after winter. 


But, in addition to the decluttering of your home and surroundings, many other benefits are associated with spring cleaning.  


Why is Spring Cleaning Great?


Spring cleaning can play a big role in your overall well being - cleaning the air you breathe, minimizing the spread of harmful bacteria and improving your mental health by preventing dysfunctional home environments and decreasing stress. 

 

Improve Indoor Air Quality 

Spring cleaning is an incredibly beneficial process for directly improving your home’s indoor air quality. A deep spring clean helps remove dust and particles from your living spaces and airs out damp winter areas without worsening air quality.


Outdoor allergens like pollen and mould can be tracked in on feet and clothing. If left to accumulate, dust, animal hair, and other allergens can wreak havoc on your nose, eyes, and sinuses, often leaving people feeling foggy, itchy and red-eyed. 


Health 

Illness & allergies

When you thoroughly clean things that you or several others touch often, you can avoid illnesses and minimize or reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria. Keeping surfaces and sinks and items such as cutting boards clean also helps to improve food safety, helping to minimize food borne symptoms or illness.


Dust, mould, mildew, pet dander, and similar things can be immune system triggers for people prone to allergies. So when your house isn’t clean, it can gather pollutants — especially during the winter months - keeping a clean home can significantly reduce your symptoms. 


Beyond keeping allergies at bay, a clean house can help you breathe better by preventing respiratory issues and supporting a healthy immune system.


Some spring cleaning tips:

  • Regular vacuuming with a high-powered HEPA filter vacuum and paying particular attention to any areas prone to mould growth, specifically in the bathroom. 
  • Keep airborne dust to a minimum by dusting with a moist cloth (instead of a dry cloth, which can send more dust flying around). 
  • Regularly changing bed sheets and cleaning window dressings can greatly reduce your allergy symptoms.

Mental Health 

Clutter & depression

Recent findings revealed that negative impacts of clutter on a person's life - social isolation, depression, and safety hazards - directly impact subjective well-being. ​​Excessive clutter is a hazard to one’s physical health and can psychologically entrap a person in dysfunctional home environments, contributing to personal distress and feelings of displacement or alienation. 

 

In many extreme cases, a hoarding disorder is diagnosed when extreme possession acquisition is combined with distress at discarding.  Mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, leading to relationship difficulties and isolation are pervasive and considered common comorbidities of hoarding disorder. 


Additionally, clutter in one's office has a similar mental effect. Office clutter significantly impacts specific occupational outcomes pertinent to employees’ health and performance, such as stress and emotional exhaustion. 


Confusion & decreased focus

Disorganization and clutter, being a constant visual reminder of disorganization, can drain us, reduce our ability to focus, increase cognitive overload, and reduce our working memory.

 

In 2011, a study conducted by neuroscience researchers found clearing clutter from the home and work environment resulted in a better ability to focus and process information and increased productivity.


Additional evidence emerged from a phenomenological study (Lee, 2017) where participants described their decluttering process as “uplifting and refreshing,” reporting “a happier, less stressful life.”


Some spring cleaning tips:

  1. Regular vacuuming with a high-powered HEPA filter vacuum and paying particular attention to any areas prone to mould growth, specifically in the bathroom.
  2. Change your air filters every spring! Healthy, clean, unclogged filters are an easy indoor air quality improvement and saves you money on utility bills by reducing the strain on your HVAC system.
  3. Keep airborne dust to a minimum by dusting with a moist cloth (instead of a dry cloth, which can send more dust flying around).
  4. Regularly changing bed sheets and cleaning window dressings can greatly reduce your allergy symptoms
  5. During and after your spring clean, be sure to have your HVAC system running to reduce the amount of VOCs from cleaning products and to filter any suspended dust particles still in the air before settling on surfaces once again.