There’s nothing quite like a sparkling sink, smear-free hob or freshly laundered sheets, but would getting to that end result stop me taking a trip to the pub or cancelling on mates? Probably not. But maybe that’s because I’m the wrong side of millennial. Not only do reports show a decline in drinking amongst the younger crowd but according to new research by Appliances Direct, those born in the mid-90s are the cleanest generation out there and spend almost four hours a week dusting, de-greasing and hoovering their humble abode.
Generation X, on the other hand (those born twenty years earlier, in the ’70s), dedicate around two hours to household chores a week, which is not exactly slovenly, but it is half the time than the cleanliness-crazed millennials of today spend cleaning.
Ambi Mistry, social psychologist and life coach believes it’s partly down to the tumultuous times we live in. “Millennials have inherited some of the most uncertain societal and economic conditions in generations (Brexit, fake news, a highly competitive, unstable job market, an increase in temporary work contracts and freelance working, limited availability of affordable housing etc), so it's easy to see the appeal in being able to maintain a sense of order and clarity in the home and to exercise a sense of control in an increasingly uncertain and confusing world,” she says.
Sounds pretty viable, but there’s another reason people are rolling their sleeves up and getting down and dirty on the ’gram.
TIDY HOUSE TIDY GRID
Yep, our favourite de-cluttering guru, Marie Kondo, has been usurped by influencer Sophie Hinchliffe, who turned into a social media sensation last year, gaining a fanbase via her videos on easy cleaning hacks.
Hinchcliffe had around 1000 followers in April 2018 but now has over 1.5 million. In fact, 67% of millennials recognise they’ve heard of her, while 44% have used one of her cleaning hacks in their routines. As a result, she’s bagged herself an agent, has a dedicated #hincharmy and hundreds of copycat videos sharing their own #hinchhacks. Plus, Hinchcliffe has a book deal from posting pictures of how she keeps her interiors so spotless.
So what have we learnt from Sophie Hinchliffe? That fabric conditioner mixed with water lifts away grubby marks on painted white doors without stripping, mixing fabric conditioner with washing up gel will clean dirty rugs, white vinegar is a dream for swiping away smears and sprinkling bicarb of soda and leaving it for an hour will get rid of ingrained mattress stains. Just what every 20-something needs to know.
As well as top tips, Hinch has been responsible for causing household cleaning products to sell out across the UK. Antibacterial cleaning pads, Minkeh and the £1 disinfectant Zoflora are victims of the scrubbing epidemic. Using the latter to mop floors, clean the bath and keep her kitchen bin smelling sweet, for house-proud millennials, it’s been as bad as the Oatly shortage in coffee shops.
THE POWER OF THE POLISH
It’s not just Instagram which a spotless surface is good for. A study by the University of California found that women who had a messy house had higher levels of cortisol (which we all know isn’t good for mind, body or soul). Research by the British Journal of Sports Medicine also reported that doing just 20 minutes of an activity such as cleaning could reduce depression. With millennials totting up around 240 minutes (12 times more than the suggested), reaching for a duster could well become the new yoga or an alternative to mindfulness or meditation in times of stress.
“Cleaning and tidying can help promote mental clarity, productivity, motivation and our willingness to socialise, all which have a positive impact on our mental health and mood,” continues Mistry. “The opposite is also true—that an unclean, messy home has been shown to increase feelings of stress and anxiety, decrease our willingness to be productive and sociable, and increase the amount of time it takes to complete tasks.”
More people working from home (and going to the office is often just a short journey to the dining room table) means that if you’re entering an unclean environment, then you could be starting the day feeling that you’ve already failed at something. Cue anxiety and a heightened sensation of stress. Sharing pictures of a well-curated desk area, sparkling coffee machine and neatly written to-do list and well, you’re on the way to winning at life.
HOW GREEN IS YOUR CLEAN?
All this polishing seems pretty positive, but one thing Mrs Hinch doesn’t touch upon is how much impact her cleaning obsession (or her comrades’ habits) is having on the environment. Cleaning products are often packaged in single-use plastics while the contents—especially bleach and phosphates—are toxic and can take years to wash away.
Enter the Insta and environmentally friendly alternatives. Whether it’s from our favourite beauty brands (Le Labo, here’s looking at you) or eco-chic startups, brands are banishing bleach in favour of organic alternatives to improve our health and our surfaces.
The Gentle Label creates non-toxic everyday essentials for the home and skin with the Multi-Surface Cleaner swapping chemicals for essential oils that lift away dirt and leave behind a fresh and fragrant trail. KINN is a UK brand that follows a similar premise and has a whole portfolio of products—from floor polish to washing up liquid to the Lavender Glass Cleaner that can be used on makeup smeared mirrors, grimy keyboards and dust-coated computer screens.
The Laundress (Le Labo’s project that’s now available in the UK) is another lust-worthy range that uses plant-derived surfactants and enzymes to cut through dirt and the unscented Dish Detergent can be used by hand or in the washer.
Then there’s Supernatural, a new Goop-approved concept that sends users refillable bottles and their four signature blends (Glass + Mirrors, Bath + Tile, Wood + Floors and Counters + Granite). Add the concentrate and water into one of the bottles and your cleaning adventure can commence. The brand isn’t shipping to the UK yet, but it’s one to keep your eye on over the next few months.
With more sustainable and eco-friendly formulas reaching the production line in 2019 and the hotly anticipated Hinch Yourself Happy landing on shelves in April (just in time for the annual spring clean), it’s only a matter of time before we’re all wearing a pair of (recyclable) rubber gloves.
Opening Image: Stocksy