How your new cleaning habits are helping you stay healthy

May 20, 2020 Providence News Team

If you’re like most Americans, you’ve entered your third month of home-based life due to coronavirus (COVID-19). You may have lost count of the days as you’ve been homeschooling, working from home, exercising at home and eating every meal at home.

Yes, it’s feeling a little like Groundhog’s Day, isn’t it? Well, here’s some good news: Staying at home — and the cleaning habits you’ve developed during these last few months — may be keeping you healthy in more ways than you think.  

Learn more about how a clean house can keep your family safe and healthy now and in the future.

You’re reducing the spread of germs

If you’ve been following COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or your local government, you’re likely spending more time cleaning your house. One of the best ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily. This includes areas like:

  • Counters
  • Faucets and sinks
  • Toilets
  • Light switches
  • Doorknobs
  • Phones and other touch screens
  • Keyboards
  • Desks
  • Handles

Getting into the habit of cleaning these areas every day will not only reduce the spread of COVID-19, it’s also more likely to reduce the spread of other germs — including the flu and food-borne illnesses.

Keep in mind that while cleaning bathroom surfaces regularly is important, research shows that your kitchen might actually be the biggest culprit. A 2013 study by the National Sanitation Foundation showed that kitchen tools and appliances (including refrigerator drawers) were more likely to breed germs. Find out tips on cleaning and sanitizing your kitchen from a professional chef.

You’re eliminating allergy and asthma irritants

Aside from disinfecting high-touch surfaces, keeping other areas of your house clean is helping you and your family breathe easier.

Irritants like dust, pet dander and mold can settle into untidy rooms, triggering allergies and asthma. You can keep these allergens at bay by regularly vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, cleaning upholstery and washing sheets.

A house filled with more furniture and clutter is also more likely to gather dust and mold, so consider taking this extra time at home to do a bit of spring cleaning. Your family’s lungs and sinuses will thank you for it!

If you’re not already doing it, try to carve out a small window every day to tidy up. Whether it’s 15, 20 or 30 minutes, clearing out some clutter and staying organized will make a huge difference in your family’s mental health.

You’re reducing stress

Have you ever noticed how stressed or scattered you feel when you walk into a messy room? A study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin revealed that individuals who described their homes as cluttered were more likely to feel tired and depressed.

And it makes sense, right? Having a messy home means it’s probably harder to find things, which can increase frustration. The clutter can also be a constant reminder of tasks and chores you’re not getting to, which adds to that stress.

If you’re not already doing it, try to carve out a small window every day to tidy up. Whether it’s 15, 20 or 30 minutes, clearing out some clutter and staying organized will make a huge difference in your family’s mental health.

You’re (probably) staying more active

Let’s not forget how cleaning is a workout in and of itself — you can tell by how your muscles feel after an hour of scrubbing the kitchen. Plus, you can burn some serious calories while cleaning. For example:

  • Sweeping and mopping: 240 calories/hour
  • Hand-washing dishes: 320 calories/hour
  • Scrubbing the bathroom: 360 calories/hour
  • Vacuuming: 160-180 calories/hour
  • Laundry: 150 calories/hour

By comparison, the average person burns between 180-260 calories/hour lifting weights.

Plus, an Indiana University study showed that a clean house may translate to a more fit body, as people with neater homes tended to get more exercise. Why? The study didn’t have a definitive correlation, but here are some theories:

  • People who have energy to tackle cleaning and house chores are more likely to exercise.
  • People who are motivated to exercise tend to complete goals and tasks they set for themselves, like cleaning.

Another study from Cornell University also showed that a chaotic and messy environment may lead to eating more sweets and junk food. Clean and organized spaces, however, led to healthier choices.

Tips for effective cleaning

Keeping your home clean can have many benefits, from protecting your family from COVID-19 to boosting your mental health. Below are some tips for effectively cleaning your home.

High-touch surfaces

  • Clean surfaces first with soap and water to remove any dirt or food particles. Then use disinfectant to kill any viruses or bacteria.
  • When disinfecting, use one of the EPA-registered household disinfectants. These products are more likely to kill the COVID-19 virus. You can also use a diluted bleach solution or alcohol solution with at least 70% alcohol.
  • Make sure to check the cleaning product label to see how long the surface needs to remain wet with cleaner — the amount of time can vary greatly depending on the product.
  • Only use a disinfecting wipe to clean multiple surfaces while it remains wet. Try to clean all the surfaces in one room before moving to the next.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfecting your phone, tablet or other touch-screen devices.
  • If possible, wear gloves and ventilate your house when disinfecting surfaces.

Soft surfaces (carpet, furniture, rugs or drapes)

  • Vacuum carpet regularly.
  • If the item can be put in the washing machine, wash it according to the manufacturer’s instructions using the warmest appropriate water setting.
  • If you can’t wash the item in the washing machine, clean it with soap and water. Use an EPA-registered disinfectant if it will not ruin the surface.

Aside from cleaning your home, also be sure you wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available). By washing your hands, keeping a tidy house and staying safe at home, you can make a big difference in keeping your family healthy during and after the pandemic.

Get relevant, up-to-date information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) from Providence.

If you need care, get care. Don’t delay.

Tired of isolation and cleaning your house? Well, it’s not all bad: These new cleaning habits may actually help your health in the long-term. Learn more. #COVID19


Find a doctor

If you feel unwell and would like to consult your doctor, Providence Express Care Virtual connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow-up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory or search for one in your area.






You can also learn how your state's department of public health is responding to the situation:




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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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