First, there was Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and now, there is The Home Edit on Netflix. TikTok cleaning videos are some of the most popular on the app and there’s even a cleaning influencer called Mrs Hinch, who chronicles how she keeps her home spick and span via Instagram. Mrs Hinch’s 3.7 million followers are even known as “Hinchers”, which demonstrates just how loyal they are.
What is it about cleaning and organisational content that makes it so addictive? And why does it feel almost soothing to consume it? Well, according to experts, it’s most likely because this type of content is inspiring, especially if you’re feeling stressed out or dealing with anxiety and depression.
“To see someone finally throwing away their to-go cup graveyard and putting away piles of clothes is aspirational because we’re getting visual access to an inner healing that is beginning to take place, which is inspiring,” therapist Caroline Given, LCSW, told Bustle.
“At a basic level, cleaning is behavioural activation, a therapeutic technique that has been well documented to improve symptoms of depression. Behavioural activation involves the completion of specific, measurable tasks to build momentum and confidence.”
Whether you’re living with depression, or just dealing with the ups and downs of this year, consuming cleaning and organisational content can create a sense of optimism and control — especially when you might not be experiencing this in other areas of your life.
And, needing to feel in control has only intensified this year with the pandemic, because generally speaking, your home has been the only place where you can exert an ounce of control. So, watching cleaning shows and tidying your space is the perfect way to feel this.
According to Craig Richard, a professor of biopharmaceutical sciences at Shenandoah University in Virginia, this type of comforting content could also be akin to the feelings many people receive from ASMR videos.
“Watching cleaning videos can definitely induce ASMR in some viewers, as long as the sounds are gentle, the motions relatively slow and predictable, and the person has a kind disposition,” Richard told RTE.
“The core aspect of most ASMR videos is a caring person demonstrating or performing a helpful task – which would include someone giving you cleaning tips.”
If these tidying videos do induce an ASMR-style feeling, this could explain why it feels so soothing to watch. According to a study out of Swansea University, researchers found that 80% of participants who were exposed to ASMR content found it had a positive effect on their mood, while 69% said it eased their moderate to severe symptoms of depression.
So, if you feel like escaping into cleaning content on Netflix, TikTok or YouTube, we say go with it. The soothing qualities are just too good to pass up, especially in the unsettling times of 2020.