January 15th 2018
Why we've all gone crazy for cleaning
February 14th 2019 / 0 comment
Instagram is awash with cleaning inspo (Mrs Hinch and Stacey Solomon, we're looking at you) but aside from a sparkling home, all this tidying could also benefit our mental health
If you've been spending more time on Instagram Stories than usual (no judgement!) you might have noticed an influx of "tap to tidy" GIFs – one tap of your screen and the image of a messy home is instantly spic and span; very satisfying.
Cleaning never used to be an aspirational thing though, in fact it's only since Mrs Hinch came onto the scene that we've had any interest in documenting our cleaning habits. Mrs Hinch, aka 29-year-old Essex hairdresser Sophie Hinchliffe, is a bonafide cleaning influencer. She has a staggering 3.4 million followers on Instagram and her #Hincharmy regularly post pictures of their #Hinchhauls inspired by her favourite products and cleaning tips (#Hinchhacks).
In lockdown many of us have become mini Mrs Hinches, meticulously cleaning our homes and tidying our space does have notable mental health benefits. The calming aspect of cleaning is cited as key to Mrs Hinch’s stratospheric rise to social media stardom. Sophie openly discusses how cleaning helps her to deal with anxiety and control her panic attacks and many followers credit Mrs Hinch with improving their mental health. Mrs Hinch regularly works with mental health charities, and whether it’s the mindful ‘flow’ of a methodical cleaning session, the satisfaction of seeing cleaning efforts pay off immediately or simply making her followers feel less alone, you can’t argue that opening her home and her mind to millions has helped others in both a practical and emotional sense.
‘Hinching’ has in itself become a verb to replace the bog-standard ‘cleaning’, and while not yet officially recognised by the Oxford English Dictionary, give it time, because her power is anything but soft. She’s caused her beloved Minky cloth to regularly sell out on Amazon and be auctioned for £20 on eBay and she’s secured a six-figure book deal, with Mrs Hinch - Hinch Yourself Happy out now.
If you feel like you’ve stepped through a vortex into the 1950s, you’re not alone, but exactly why have so many women (and Mrs Hinch’s followers are predominantly women) gone gaga for household chores?
GTG's account executive Alex Harrison never misses Mrs Hinch's daily clean on Instagram Stories and has filled her house with Hinchhaul products. She explains the appeal:
“Mrs Hinch provides a constant source of practical, easy-to-achieve cleaning and household tips that you might not have thought of and that you can action immediately with things that most people have in their cupboard already. She’s funny, genuine and relatable, so I think that that explains her popularity too.”
Speaking of tips, she does have some pretty ingenious ideas for cleaning everything from hairbrushes to mattresses, and she puts her sink “to bed” every night by giving it a good soak with hot water and her antibacterial solution of choice, Zoflora, combining it with soda crystals and white wine vinegar every fortnight to prevent stinky plugholes. Here are some of our favourite #Hinchhacks.
Clean your blinds with tumble dryer sheets
This one's been a game-changer for our in-house Hincher Alex. Sophie wipes a tumble dryer sheet across the blind slats to get rid of dust before following up with disinfectant (usually Zoflora for its reported pet-friendly credentials). The reason that this particular #Hinchhack has essentially gone viral is because the anti-static effect of the tumble dryer sheet means that it attracts dust better than cloths and feather dusters. Alex also now puts tumble dryer sheets in cushion covers to make her sofa smell nice (a fresh challenge with a new dog in the house), as advised by Mrs Hinch.
Wash hairbrushes in Dettol
A de-hairing and rinse won’t cut it for Mrs Hinch - she adds two capfuls of Dettol to a sinkful of hot water and leaves to soak face down for an hour or so before using a comb to extract any stray hairs. She’s nothing if not thorough.
Use baking soda to get stains out of mattresses
Mrs Hinch demoed this one to Holly and Phil on This Morning (incidentally, Phil finds cleaning therapeutic when he’s in a bad mood). Simply take off the sheets and add a layer of baking soda on top of the stain, rubbing it into the mattress (wear gloves). Leave it there for at least an hour and then hoover up the powder residue.
De-scuff doors with fabric softener
Mrs Hinch also shows Holly and Phil this nifty trick - pouring a bit of fabric conditioner onto a scourer and then buffing any stains or scuffs in a circular motion should remove stains, even from pristine white doors.
Clean hard floors with an electric toothbrush
Spritz with antibacterial spray before taking an electric toothbrush (or her favourite sonic scrubber) to remove stubborn stains, then polish with a cloth.
There’s plenty more where they came from, and it’s not just her cleaning advice that goes down well either. Her followers also watch her Instagram stories avidly for her unique cleaning routines. There’s the clockwise clean, the Hinch half-hour (think of it as the HIIT of housework), Zoflora hour, freshn’up Friday, car Hinch, fridge Hinch, oven Hinch...you get the idea.
Sophie also gives her preferred cleaning products and tools distinctive names - there’s Minkeh the cleaning pad, Pinkeh the sponge, Dave the fluffy duster, Buddy the microfibre cloth, Vera the Vileda mop, Stuart the sonic scrubber, Neil the kneel mat and many more, all stashed in the cupboard underneath her sink, dubbed Narnia. It’s quite literally another world, but a highly addictive one as Alex from our team will testify, and watching her systematic cleaning routines has the same calming, soothing power as viewing an ASMR video, with the added bonus that you might learn something.
Being a slob (my boyfriend grew up in a B&B and does the lion’s share of our housework), I found myself making mental notes and shopping lists, and I’m certainly not alone in doing the latter. Retailers have reported a surge in the sale of cleaning products, which many put down to the ‘Hinch effect’, and the fact that the majority of her recommended cleaning kit can be picked up for barely more than £1 on your local high street adds to her relatability and appeal.
However. for all of her witty domesticity, her promotion of somewhat extreme cleaning rituals and keeping a perfect grey toned home have been criticised by many for the apparent implication that women should do the bulk of household chores. Given that a 2016 study published by the Office for National Statistics reported that women do 60 per cent more ‘unpaid work’ (i.e, domestic drudgery) than men, reinforcing this status quo is not something to be celebrated. Journalist Rebecca Reid points out that putting a “pretty bow” on housework and “glamorising” cleaning holds women back in the workplace, financially and in the gender equality stakes, not to mention the fact that it leaves precious little time for looking out for ourselves or plan old chilling out.
There’s also a strong environmental detractor to filling ‘Narnia’ with bleach too, given that washing strong chemicals into our waterways has a damaging effect on the ecosystem, plus household wipes contribute to Britain’s mounting fatbergs and filling our trolleys with yet more plastic bottles is bad news for sea life. Mrs Hinch does, however, use eco-friendly cleaning products every now and again, and ‘cleanfluencers’ such as Lynsey Queen of Clean provide followers with ‘recipes’ for homemade non-toxic cleaning solutions and shopping lists of the most eco-friendly products to choose to minimise environmental damage.
As Insta trends go, it’s undoubtedly on the mundane side of things, but then again if a simple barn egg can beat Kylie Jenner for likes, what is life? If it makes followers feel less stressed with the added bonus of a clean home (realistically we all have to have a whip round with a mop etc most weeks), you could conclude that Mrs Hinch et al are doing no harm, but as with everything, moderation is key. If your social and/or professional life is suffering on account of keeping up a cleaning routine, you’re taking on the majority of tasks in the home or feel a niggling or crushing feeling that your living room doesn’t quite measure up to Mrs Hinch levels of order and cleanliness, it’s time to log off and put your feet up.