By Larissa Wright
There’s something oddly satisfying about watching Sophie Hinchcliffe scrub away the grime in her sink, chatting to her antibacterial cleaning pad as though she’s doing the housework with a fun bestie.
“I’m lovin’ it, I’m lovin’ it, I’m lovin’ it! Come on Minky, we can do this!”
Does it make me want to do my laundry? Not particularly. But it obviously affects a number of her three million followers, because when “Mrs Hinch” revealed the Minky as one of her favourite cleaning items, they promptly sold out in every store across the UK. She has even created her own self-styled vocabulary, with ‘Hinchers’ everywhere ‘Hinching’ their homes.
Hinchcliffe is not the only one cleaning up on people’s desire to watch others scrub their homes.
Brushes With Fame
Gemma Bray, the author of The Organised Mum Method, has 180 thousand followers and claims her system can free up your weekends to be housework-free.
Lynsie Crombie, Queen of Clean, has 167 thousand followers and says cleaning was her therapy after a marriage breakdown.
Melissa Maker, the only cleanfluencer on this list not from the UK, hails from Toronto and has 1.3 million subscribers on her Youtube channel, ‘Clean My Space’.
As well as being celebrity cleaners, these ladies have another thing in common. They have all made a shedload of money broadcasting their home videos to the world. Maker is estimated to be worth a whopping $66 million dollars.
Cleaning Up With Scrubbing Tips
What makes these videos so compelling? On the most obvious level, there are certainly viewers who just want to learn the hacks that will streamline their domestic drudgery. According to the Office for National Statistics, despite the rise of women in the workforce, they are still doing twice as much cooking, childcare and housework as their male counterparts. When Gemma Bray promises her system will deliver a housework-free weekend, there’s an undeniable appeal.
It may also be that people are losing interest in following yoga-perfect models with beautiful hair and designer leggings doing flawless headstands on cliché beaches, and are turning to something more real. “We’re more relatable than a lot of the lifestyle bloggers out there,” Crombie says. “We’ve got our mops up, hair sticking up… I look like a right rough tramp on Instagram, but I get people writing in to say it’s refreshing.”
Tidy Room, Tidy Mind
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the cleanfluencer rise is the apparent psychological benefits they are bestowing upon their fans. ‘Tidy room, tidy mind’ is a well-known adage, and research has shown a clean, organised home is a significant predictor of good health, while people with cluttered homes are more likely to suffer anxiety and depression. Perhaps cleanfluencers inspire and motivate us to follow in their spotless footsteps to happiness?
Hinchcliffe’s photo comments are littered with viewers claiming her videos help them get out of bed, alleviate social anxiety, avoid panic attacks and ‘find themselves’. One theory is that this is due to ASMR—autonomic sensory meridian response—a feeling of relaxation or euphoria induced by watching or hearing specific experiences. The exact mechanics and biology involved in ASMR are not fully understood, but ASMR videos of people whispering and brushing their hair have their own fast-growing market on Youtube.
If we turn to Jungian psychology, the home is recognised as a common symbol of the Self. Carl Jung might suggest that the state of our house represents our own internal state, so perhaps on some symbolic level, we experience cleaning as banishing the clutter and unwanted rubbish from inside ourselves.
On The Soapbox
Is it really all good, clean fun? Or is there a dirty underside to this trend? Are there some less desirable aspects that are being swept under the rug?
For one, my inner feminist is somewhat frustrated with this portrayal of women. Beyond the regressive image of women expressing their femininity through their ability to keep house, every one of these highly influential ladies is thin, white, and traditionally beautiful. Despite the fact that they are scrubbing toilets, a task traditionally performed in old jeans and a stained t-shirt, every video I watched featured perfectly styled hair, beautifully manicured nails, and a full face of make-up.
Beyond that, blatant consumerism without environmental responsibility is something we should be concerned about. If one mention can cause a simple cleaning pad to sell out all over the country, we need to ask whether the products being pushed by such influential people are causing harm to the world we live in. Many of the detergents promoted by these scrub-happy celebrities are packaged in single-use plastic and contain bleach and phosphates that are detrimental to our rivers and oceans.
Like them or love them, cleanfluencers have tapped into some part of our collective psyche, and their growing popularity suggests they are filling a need for many people. It makes me wonder what the next big influencer craze to sweep the internet will be. I hope it’s people getting rich and famous by playing with puppies because I’m really good at that!