5 Reasons Why Cleaning Alone Is Better

published Jul 19, 2016
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(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

I’m not a natural neat freak. I’ve struggled with cleaning throughout my life. (I used to leave sinks full of dirty dishes for longer than I’d like to admit.) Don’t get me wrong — I’m not messy; in fact, I love decluttering, organizing, and arranging, but cleaning is a different story. The thing that’s made it bearable is seeing cleaning as a kind of meditation, best practiced in moments when I’m alone.

Here are five reasons why cleaning alone rocks.

1. You get some time to yourself.

As the working mom of a 2-year-old, sometimes it feels like a mini-vacation to put on headphones, zone out, and do the dishes while my husband watches our son. If you work a ton, live with roommates, take care of kids, or have family members around a lot, cleaning is a pretty good excuse to steal a few minutes for yourself.

2. You get to pick the music.

When we clean as a family, my husband (who is a natural neat freak and much more motivated than me) almost always picks the music. When it’s just me, I get to put on whatever I want, or leave the music off if that’s how I’m feeling.

3. You get to pick the scents.

I’m so much more into cleaning when I’m using stuff that smells good. I’ve been on an essential oil kick for a while, using different ratios of water, castille soap, and scents for different jobs. For my counters, I add eucalyptus; for my wood floors, cedar oil; for dishes, a little lavender. It’s cleaning-as-aromatherapy.

4. You make the rules.

Only have enough energy to clean for five minutes? Great — do that. Up for a mini-marathon of cleaning? Awesome — go for it. When it’s just you, you don’t have to compromise. You can do as much or as little as you like.

5. You develop a deeper connection with yourself.

OK, hear me out. When I’m cleaning with my family, I’m focused on them and getting the job done together. When I’m cleaning by myself, I’m focused on the dishes, my music, or whatever thoughts are floating through my head. It’s become a way for me to process thoughts and let them go.

In particular, it’s been a way for me to face and deal with my own perfectionism. When I tell myself that I have to get rid of every spot in my kitchen and make it perfect, it seems like an impossible task that can wait until whenever (or never). When I accept that I might only have time to get half the dishes done, or my stovetop’s a little crusty but that’s OK, I actually get things done. And it’s much better to be kind of clean than a perfectionist mess.

Do you prefer to clean by yourself or with others? Is cleaning a form of meditation for you, too?