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Tidy house, tidy mind: cleanfluencers taught us more than we think

We’re always looking for new ways to improve our home style. There’s no shortage of inspiration online, whether through organisational or cleaning tips. In fact, the popularity of cleanfluencers—digital influencers focusing on home cleaning—on Instagram and our TV screens continues to grow.

The stars of Netflix and morning show guest spots now rank higher than ever before on our social media feeds. They offer advice on both how to keep a tidy home and how to remain positive, particularly during this adverse period. Here’s how cleanfluencers are inspiring us, and doing even more while they’re at it.

The rise of the cleanfluencer

The past year has been a lesson in learning to love where you live. People have become more accustomed to their own four walls than ever before, with two national lockdowns in England and circuit breakers in the rest of the UK.

It’s unsurprising that the popularity of ‘cleanfluencers’ has never been greater. Stuck at home, we’ve become fascinated with Netflix shows including The Home Edit and Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. These programmes have inspired us to maintain our own slice of organised heaven.

One cleaning company, Fulcare, measured the influence of these tidy celebrities through analysing their social media followings and earning potential. Certainly, these programmes have spawned from weighty Instagram fame, with @thehomeedit and @mariekondo both achieving 4.3 million and 3.8 million followers, respectively.

Among these cleaning pros is Essex-born Sophie Hinchcliffe, most commonly known as Mrs Hinch. The sweeping star has claimed 3.8 million followers in only 18 months after writing four successful books this year on home cleanliness. She’s a step ahead of her competitors with an engagement rate of 8.85 per cent. In comparison, The Home Edit has an engagement rate of 1.22 per cent, while Marie Kondo has only 0.78 per cent.

However, while their followings are impressive, their earning potentials are even more so. It is estimated that Mrs Hinch can earn £9,690 per sponsored Instagram post. Meanwhile, The Home Edit tops the charts with an annual income of £567,034. Their messages of tidy living are breaking through.

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What’s the message?

To the unassuming, cleaning may appear to be a dull motivation to start a career. But the power of these cleanfluencers has certainly made an impression on home-keepers across the world.

Their message is to lead a positive lifestyle, with cleaning used as a tool to keep your life in order. The Home Edit emphasises that proper organisation will help you in the long-term: “every project is rooted in functional systems that can be maintained for the long-term.” These influencers believe that organisation is not only a system but a mindset. It can contribute to how a home should feel.

Marie Kondo believes there is a spiritual link between cleaning and personal well-being. Her KonMari method is about choosing joy. She suggests that decluttering your house is equivalent to decluttering your mind. The journey is simple—go through each individual item in your home. If it doesn’t bring you joy, throw it away.

These methods are different from the usual instructions on how best to clean your kitchen surfaces. Instead, they reflect the choices of how we live our lives. Positivity is a more welcome cleaner than furniture polish (although sometimes a good microfibre cloth is essential to get your surfaces shining).

Organising for mental health

Mrs Hinch highlights that she cleans to help with anxiety and worrying. She believes that the activity of cleaning is a positive antidote to mental health issues. In an interview, she reflects: “When you feel at your weakest, you’re still achieving something.”

The cleanfluencer message is not to say that a tidy house can improve your mental well-being. Instead, they believe that the process it takes to get there can be beneficial. Cleaning helps us to maintain control over our environment. In one study, The Mindfulness Journal found that people who took their time when cleaning up had improved mental well-being. For example, taking time to do the dishes and appreciating the smell of washing-up liquid helped to reduce nervousness by 27 per cent and improved mental inspiration by 25 per cent.

Ultimately, we need to start looking at cleaning less as a chore and more as a hobby. Perspective is everything. Enjoying the task allows us to appreciate the outcome and to rest in a space that we’ve curated into a peaceful haven.

You don’t need to flash a beaming smile while doing the laundry. However, using cleaning as a tool for our happiness is beneficial. When you enjoy what you do, you do it well. Your appreciation for cleaning is demonstrated through good organisation and high standards. Who knows? You might be the next cleanfluencer.


Could the KonMari method help us with our digital mess too?

By Camay Abraham

Does this dick pic spark joy for you? You may not ask that exact question to yourself, but those scrolls of texts from an ex-love, the hundreds of selfies you’re not planning to use, or the idle apps and files filling up your phone and computer can be overwhelming to clear out—leading to letting our digital clutter to take over our digital space. This digital clutter not only affects our screens but also affects our mental space, so why not curate only the best digital items that will spark joy by employing the cult-cleaning power of the KonMari Method?

It’s safe to say that everyone has seen or at least heard of the KonMari method. Created by Japan’s tiny tidy queen, Marie Kondo, it’s a philosophy and lifestyle that ignited a bestselling book, hit Netflix series, and a cult following of immaculately folded wardrobes. If you’re not familiar, it’s an organising and decluttering system based on how an item makes you feel, instead of focusing on practicality (popularly known as spark joy). And just like cleaning your flat can positively affect your mental health, so does cleaning your digital space. 

Do we need to care if we’re cluttering our devices? It’s easy to think of our devices and even our cloud storage as boundless. So what’s the harm right? On an environmental level, files that are uploaded into our computer and uploaded to the internet use up storage space. As data is sustained through data server centres, it uses high amounts of electricity, emitting volumes of heat, using large amounts of land and billions of dollars to shelter. On a psychological level, warehousing thousands of files on our devices can bring mental strain. Ironically, Kondo suggests putting photos on a hard drive or cloud storage system, which might be more practical, but does not solve the mental and digital clutter.

The oceans of memes, photos, apps, and texts to sift through may be overwhelming, so it’s easier to let it live in our devices. The volume of what we accumulate may intimidate us but there’s also a psychological reason behind our apprehension. According to Russell Belk’s 2013 study, we’re more reluctant to delete items if we invest time and energy. Whether it be time investing in text messages with our lover, hours taking the perfect selfie, and even time downloading an app and going through the signing up process. These digital possessions create a collection of ourselves and use it as a reminder of an experience. 

That’s not to say these memories are accurate—who’s really truthful digitally anyway? But as enhancing emotion and nostalgia of the experience. These memories are artefacts that represent old relationships, old memories, an old you. We keep them to reflect on our mistakes, our achievements, and our growth as human beings. According to Kondo who spoke with CNN, “The biggest mistake with digital tidying is focusing too much on what to discard.” Like everything else in the KonMari method, you should only keep things that are valuable to you, makes sense in your lifestyle, and “spark joy”.

On the flip side, too many digital memories can disable you to remember that experience. Based on reports from Business Insider, people took 1.2 trillion photos in 2017 alone. Those numbers have risen exponentially since then. According to Linda Henkel, a professor of psychology at Fairfield University in Connecticut, when you use your camera to save the experience instead of your brain, it stops you from creating an emotional attachment to the memory. This phenomenon aptly named the ‘Photo Taking Impairment’ affects not only your mental space but your digital space as well—like junk in your closet.

This unemotional disconnect to our digital memories also stems into how we interact with our apps. According to Statista, the number of app downloads in 2017 reached 178 billion, with this figure predicted to rise to 258 billion by 2022. According to a 2018 report by Business of Apps, users spend 80 percent of their time with their top ten favourite apps—an average of 10 apps a day, or 30 per month. As our attention spans are lowered we are more likely to delete apps more frequently—29.1 percent of Android phone users and 25 percent of iPhone users let apps sit in their phones for at least a day before they are unceremoniously deleted.

Some may argue that due to our nonchalance towards our digital possessions and how easily they can be duplicated, they hold less of an emotional attachment. On the contrary, these digital possessions could hold even more credence. But in many regards, existing in the digital sphere already makes them more precious—photos, texts, and apps can be accidentally deleted, your device could be stolen, or the dreaded phone in the toilet. Today so many of our memories rely on the existence of online platforms, of hardware and software, and it is when these technologies crash that we are reminded of their ephemerality.

The attachment to our digital possessions and the fear of losing them garners us to obsessively back up files, thus creating even more digital clutter. We need to pivot our thinking and see our digital space as a personal space. If we’re more mindful—the KonMari way—it would ease our mental strain and bring more meaning to what we allow to live in our screens. So I’ll ask again—does that dick pic spark joy for you?