A few weeks ago, I was asked to take part in biometrics research for Clorox. What does that mean? At the time, I had no idea— just that life as a blogger can be pretty damn strange. When I showed up, they stuck all sorts of nodules and wires to my head (see above picture), and then asked me to explore two different rooms so they could monitor my biological and emotional reactions.
Did I crush a soda can with my mind in there? No. Not exactly.
The first room was clean . I could tell that this was someone’s living space but nothing was particularly out of place. The bed was made, the clothes were folded and put away, the dishes were stacked neatly in the cabinets. There was a monkey backpack on a hook and a craft table with some crayons in a cup that told me the person who lived there had a child, but that child did not appear to create that much havoc. Clearly, this family took care of their space. I took my time exploring and then sat down on the couch until the time was up.
The second room was another story. For one thing, it smelled awful as soon as you walked in. There was kitty litter and cat food and pet hair everywhere. I’m not a pet person and the smell was so overwhelming to me, it made it hard to focus on much else. There were also dirty dishes in the sink, food containers on the counters, pots on the stove, dirty clothes on the floor, toothpaste in the sink, grime in the tub and stuff everywhere. I didn’t want to touch anything (I definitely couldn’t sit down!) and couldn’t wait to leave. I think I might have even said out loud, “Can I get out of here now?” in case those head nodules signaled to a monitor somewhere that I was in distress.
When I got my biometric results, they revealed that I had a “strikingly strong sensitivity to the dirty environment, showing a high level of disgust and increased level of stress.” It reported that my stress levels were 38% higher than in the clean room. It also said that the longer I was in the dirty environment, the more stressed I became. No surprise there. When it came to happiness, my levels increased over time in the clean room and decreased over time spent in the dirty room. And finally, my critical thinking levels were 62% higher in the clean space.
It made sense. Who can think or be productive when what you really need to do is clean? How many times have you cleaned your kitchen in order to prepare a meal? Or cleaned the dining room table so you could sit down at it and do some work? Or scrubbed the tub so you could take a bath? Or made your bed, just to get back in?
I also know that if I walk into my apartment and it’s not clean, I get stressed out. All I want to do is relax but that becomes impossible. When there is so much clutter in our home, it becomes harder and harder to really clean it thoroughly. The more agitated I become with my surroundings, the more agitated I become with the people who live in them. Hashtag momlife, right?
I hadn’t really thought about the state of our apartment and how that relates to my general happiness, but after looking at my biometrics, it occurred to me that they go hand in hand. If a dirty space is affecting my overall wellbeing, don’t I have to make cleaning more of a priority?
Some of the other interesting Clorox research findings show that a clean space also helps children be more clear-headed and productive. Not only that— the findings say that cleaning teaches children empathy, compassion and connection skills that they need to thrive in today’s world. That made me think back to what the girls’ bedroom looked like when we first redid it about three years ago. I created desk areas for both of them to be able to sit down and do work, when they eventually had work.
This was Mazzy’s desk:
This was Harlow’s:
Don’t they both look like such clean and inviting spaces to sit down and get some stuff done? Flash forward to current day, when Mazzy actually has homework. I’m almost embarrassed to post a picture, but…here goes:
That makes me stressed out just looking at it. And we just cleaned it up before the school year started back in September! Mazzy’s desk is so dirty, she uses our dining room table for homework instead. Which is a terrible place for her to concentrate because we have one main living space and Mike, Harlow and I are always in there too.
Here’s Harlow’s desk:
Not quite as bad as Mazzy’s but still cluttered and she hasn’t had any homework yet!
For the past year, I’ve been saying we need to move. The thought of purging and cleaning and organizing and redecorating is just overwhelming. It feels like it would be much easier to start from scratch. But finding a bigger space in Manhattan is no easy task. We’ve looked. What the Clorox study helped me realize is that I need to stop thinking pie in the sky and start thinking about how to make our current space work. Can I get our apartment back to a place where it feels like a clean slate again? Can I purge enough so that I can REALLY clean?
So, I made a decision. I’m going to make transforming our apartment into a clean happy space my number #1 priority this year. I’m hoping this helps set the stage for a happier, more productive and relaxed existence for my entire family.
This post was sponsored by Clorox. Visit Cloroxisthebeginning.com to learn more about the research findings and the transformative power of clean.