This Student Cleaned Unlivable Homes & The Results Were Heartwarming

Sai Leigh - December 8, 2022
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Finding Humor in Trauma

Obviously, she has to be careful, as some items might have sentimental value. But Brogan also brings humor to these posts, chronicling strange things she finds while cleaning. She’s come across completely unidentifiable objects as well as everyday items like multiple cellphones. Kids’ toys are often lost among the mountains of trash. While mental health is no joke, it can soften the blow for some and make the situations more relatable.

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Everything But the Kitchen Sink

She also deep cleans kitchens, dedicating entire videos to before-and-after shots. Deep cleaning involves not just getting rid of trash, but also eliminating bacteria, dust and germs. Brogan throws in tips about how to get your home extra clean, including the often-seen Scrub Daddy products that she uses at each free cleaning. Videos show the young woman scrubbing out utensil holders, refrigerators with caked on, moldy food and discolored counter tops.

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The Realities of Cleaning

The before-and-after photos make it look so easy. But keep in mind that even the smallest tasks can involve some deep, deep cleaning. This fridge, for example, took Brogan and a friend nine hours to clean. That in itself is a daunting task and should put things into perspective. What might seem like a quick and easy job (thanks to Brogan’s easy to consume social media) may actually be insurmountable to people living in those conditions.

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Hygiene Central

Unsurprisingly, bathroom videos get some of the most attention from her followers. It’s not hard to imagine just how bad bathrooms can get, since they’re the epicenter of hygiene. From crusty toilets to toilet paper that’s been reused over and over, Brogan keeps her cool while tidying it all up and getting it as close to clean as possible. These videos are both satisfying and disturbing, but keep in mind that they’re also embarrassing and stressful for those living in these conditions.

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Why She Does It

Brogan has managed to create a platform where she not only brings mental health problems and the importance of cleaning to light, but she’s totally transparent in her process and personal opinions. One of the most common questions Brogan gets is why she offers to clean houses for free. Obviously it’s a huge time suck for her and she has her own family to take care of. Most people can barely manage to clean their own homes, much less the homes of several other people a week-but Brogan finds a way to make it work.

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Healing Isn’t a Transaction

But she’s up front about not wanting people to see cleaning as a “transaction” and fear asking for help because they’ll be unable to afford it. This would only steer people away from seeking help and continue the cycle of uncleanliness and poor mental health. By offering her services for free, Brogan creates a safe place for people to choose to improve – with a little help. The more we stigmatize these situations, the less people will ask for the help they need and the longer these cycles will go on.

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Community Matters

Brogan has pointed out that “If you’re struggling to take care of yourself, you’re not going to take care of your environment, and it builds up fast.” One of the best things we can do is keep an eye on our friends, family and neighbors, and offer a helping hand or listening ear as needed. Sometimes all it takes is a safe space to feel overwhelmed for someone struggling to start on the right path. By building trust with others, we can create a community centered around healing instead of judgment.

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Calling Out Her Critics

In a recent post, Brogan encouraged her followers in this way: “If you’re someone leaving horrible negative comments and you’re so concerned, go help someone in your area! It could be your friend, family, loved one or neighbour struggling like this. Compassion goes a long way.” Brogan isn’t shy about calling out her critics and challenging them to pitch in the fight. It’s part of what makes her a truly generous and selfless person. Unfortunately, Brogan regularly defends herself against negative individuals on social media trying to shut down what she does for others.

Finding Control Again

One thing we haven’t gotten to yet is the effect cleaning has on your sense of control. Many people feel out of control in life, while others feel like they have it all in hand and figured out. But feeling a lack of control can be scary, and when your surroundings get overwhelming, this feeling can be amplified. Cleaning can give people a sense of ownership and control over their immediate environment. A study at UCONN revealed that in times of stress, many people turn to cleaning to help them feel in control.

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Staying Mindful

If you think that’s impressive, wait until you hear about the connection between cleaning and mindfulness. Surprising, right? You’ve probably heard of mindfulness in terms of being present and meditation, so what does cleaning have to do with it? A study published in the Mindfulness journ`al proved that washing dishes can be used as a meditative process. In the sample of 51 college students, those proven to be “mindful” dishwashers felt inspired, less nervous, and more focused while on task. Just another reason to find time to clean a few times a week.

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Motivational Numbers

Let’s take a quick look at some more cleaning stats, and maybe you’ll be motivated to clean up a mess you’ve been ignoring these past few days. For starters, 70% of dust is made up of dead skin flakes—that alone should be enough to make you want to get dusting and sweeping! Cleaning for 2 hours will burn 200 calories, so you don’t have to feel bad about skipping a workout to get your home clean. While it might seem okay to slack now and then, remember that the correlation between mental health and cleaning is a rabbit hole that is easily to fall down.

Finding Balance With Your Other Half

Half of couples living together fight about cleaning. Who is going to do it, when it’s going to get done, and who does what. Check out this article from NPR on how to fairly split up household chores. Quick tips include sitting down to write out a list of necessary chores, outlining the essentials, and noting expectations for when the chore(s) should be completed. Obviously, stress related to cleaning can (and does) negatively affect couples as well as individuals.

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A Moment for Reflection

Chances are (and we hope) you’re now thinking about your own mental health situation in relation to how often you clean, or how your surroundings affect your mood. If you’re interested in finding a cleaning service near you, use this cleaning cost calculator to find the average cost of cleaners in your area. If you decide to go this route instead of cleaning your house yourself, make sure you have a transparent conversation about what each service includes.

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Take Small Steps

Looking for easy ways to get started toward healing? It’s all about the small steps, not the big ones. Take a look around you at what can be done right now. Making your bed, for example, might seem useless or not like a big deal at all—but change doesn’t have to be big. Commit yourself to cleaning and/or organizing one small area (like a drawer, or closet) a day or week, and soon you’ll be creating the healthy habit of regular cleaning. One more item Brogan consistently recommends is a chore chart to keep everyone in the house on track.

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Ways You Can Help

Looking for ways to support those struggling with mental health? Check out this site to find out what you can offer, both emotionally and practically. It may be as simple as listening or as involved as attending appointments with professionals. Whatever path you choose to take, you can make a difference in the lives of others and help them begin to heal. Make sure to stay compassionate, non-judgmental and take a page from Brogan’s book!

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