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I’ve always felt that urge to keep my space neat and tidy, but until recently didn’t fully understand the link between clutter and depression.  It’s not for your friends… it’s not for the health of your family.  No, the reason is a lot more instinctive and necessary than you think: a clean house makes you happier!

I’ve always been a “neat freak,” as my friends have lovingly called it over the years.  My college roommates celebrated my fastidious ability to clean and keep things tidy in ever-confining spaces.  

My husband was relieved to realize that I was even neater than him… that our floors would always be vacuumed. That the bathrooms would always be clean.  That the fridge would never have that sticky grime on the handle that makes everyone wonder…who in heaven’s name touched that thing?

Get the Cleaning List

I’d love to send you my daily cleaning list, along with my Daily/Weekly/Montlhy cleaning list. What is your e-mail address? I’ll send it right over (along with my free e-mail series on decluttering!)

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Upon having kids, I was actually a little nervous that some of my housekeeping tendencies would fall by the wayside, what with pulling all-nighters with a sleepless baby and entertaining a toddler all day long (on zero sleep)

And yet…while I became a lot looser with the idea of “clean” and “neat,” my old tendencies found a way to wriggle out of my sleep-deprived body and make themselves known.

My floors were still swept.  My dishwasher was still unpacked.  The counters were clear.  The toilets were clean.  

How Did I Keep It Clean?

What was going on? Sure, I could say it was just “in me” to clean… and to some extent, I would agree.

And then, just yesterday, I found this amazing article that showed how science has proven a direct connection between a clean house and a lower risk of depression.

… and there is was: A clean house makes you happier.

A woman leaning on a kitchen counter with clutter around her as she holds her head in her hands.

Why does a clean house make you happier? What is the reasoning behind it? I looked into it & found it to be so true. Here is an excerpt from the article “The Link Between Clutter And Depression” (1)

“It turns out that clutter has a profound effect on our mood and self-esteem. CELF’s anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found:

  • A link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female homeowners and a high density of household objects. The more stuff, the more stress women feel.
  • Men, on the other hand, don’t seem bothered by mess, which accounts for tensions between tidy wives and their clutter bug hubbies.
  • Women associate a tidy home with a happy and successful family. The more dishes pile up in the sink, the more anxious women feel.
  • Even families that want to reduce clutter often are emotionally paralyzed when it comes to sorting and pitching objects. They either can’t break sentimental attachments to objects or believe their things have hidden monetary value.
  • Although U.S. consumers bear only 3% of the world’s children, we buy 40% of the world’s toys. And these toys live in every room, fighting for display space with kids’ trophies, artwork, and snapshots of their last soccer game.”
link between a clean house and depression

What I found so amazing about this article is that it put into words the way I feel when my house is NOT clean.  I bet it’s the way many of us feel if we’re being completely honest.

Clutter & messes can make us feel anxious, out-of-control, stressed, and grumpy.

A Clean Home is NOT a Boring Home.

I know all kinds of cute Facebook memes say something to the effect that “A clean house is the sign of a life unfulfilled.” (similar to the image below)

link between a clean house and depression

I am all for playing with toys, painting, using play-dough, reading, baking with the kids, playing dress-up, making ‘monster soup’ in the kitchen (which is what our kids called it when we would gather random things, like flowers, grass, etc. and bring them in and pour them into a large pot of water…just to mix and pretend to serve to imaginary friends. This was a very messy but very fun game that we played often), and building amazing forts from bedsheets…

It is fun (and necessary) to have a lived-in, loving home… but we all clean up when we’re done. It’s as simple as that. It’s just the “after you use it, put it away” method & it works well. Sure- a fort will stay up for a couple of days before it comes down and gets put away, but that doesn’t mean that every other area will be messy.

So, yes, some say that an unclean house is a sign of a boring, unloving house, but I beg to differ. Our bodies and minds actually thrive off organization and order, no matter if you are Type A or Type B.

For some, that may mean every speck of dust to be vacuumed and cleaned.  For others, like me, that might mean all the clothes are picked up off the floor, the toilets are clean and the floors are vacuumed.

The Key Takeaway

It isn’t that the clean house makes you happier just by being clean, but more because of what the clean house represents: time, organization, freshness, space, freeness, control, knowledgeable. You feel ike you can breath for a minute, like you aren’t worried about the mess because it’s already clean (or will be again soon), like you aren’t worried about where things you because you already know…

The KEY here is that once YOU feel your house is clean and organized, there will be a CORRESPONDING level of happiness and a DECREASED chance of depression.

Not sure about you, but that gives me a good reason to sweep the kitchen before I fall asleep tonight. Waking up to a clean kitchen always makes me happy.

30 Day Declutter Challenge

30 day declutter calendar

Study about Depression & Cluter can be found here:

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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