Thrill seekers flock to sports for the excitement and the adrenaline rush of competition. But they can get a similar mood boost from a surprising but different workout: cleaning house. Of course, the result of a sparkling abode is unquestionably rewarding. But it’s the act of cleaning that that produces this catharsis, according to a recent study completed by Ipsos on behalf of Mr. Clean. The biometric study found that the body responds to scrubbing and wiping the same way it does to watching race car driving: with a rush of adrenaline and improved mood.
Cleaning in itself is the reward
This surprising insight signals that a home cleaning routine could be beneficial to a person’s well-being like a self-care routine, says Tamara Janoscik, a senior vice president at Ipsos. “At the moment, we think of self-care as related to personal care categories. A study like this shows that maybe we should be thinking more broadly about how to expand the self-care category into realms like home care, household cleaning and home décor,” she says.
For these brand categories and their retailers, the promoted benefits for buying and using these products have been a clean, organized or stylish home. “With this insight, brands and retailers have another benefit for shoppers: that actively cleaning, organizing and decorating can make them feel more grounded, in control, energized and happy,” she says.
There’s precedent for that, she adds. “The clean food movement gradually worked into the personal care categories – where people now want clean ingredient lines in their toothpaste, deodorant, cosmetics, etc.” Recent articles and blogs have explored the cleaning as self-care idea. One university student wellness and counseling center calls this “environmental self-care.” And the Ipsos research measures how it works.
How cleaning affects the body and mood
Researchers used a medical grade wrist device to record changes in participants’ galvanic skin response (GSR) and heart rate while they completed several kitchen cleaning tasks. These changes in sweat, along with heart rate signal intensity of emotional arousal. Both reactions are automatic and happen without people’s control.
Researchers tracked the participants’ biometric responses as they cleaned. Then they compared those biometric levels with the biometric responses of people watching three videos. They included an actor doing the same cleaning tasks as the participants, a video of a sky-diving experience and a simulated race car driving experience.
Researchers found that watching the cleaning video prompted a lower arousal in participants than the racing video. However, their biometric responses rose toward the end of activity, which lead to comparable levels to watching the race car driving video. Researchers hypothesize that this rise is due to participants feeling increased excitement and a sense of accomplishment in the process of cleaning.
The result “makes complete sense depending on the type of cleaning,” says NiCole R. Keith, associate dean of the School of Health and Human Sciences at Indiana University. She says if the cleaning is using large muscle groups, “it really is a physical activity and any physical activity is going to give you that physiological response. Breathing and heart rate increase so the physiological response you get from cleaning would be a similar response that you would get from excitement.”
“We’ve always known that cleaning can be fun and help boost your mood, says Christine Flaherty, brand manager, Mr. Clean, in a statement, “Which is why we’re constantly looking for ways to innovate our product offerings.”