9 “Psych Tricks” That Make Cleaning My Home So Successful

published Jun 25, 2023
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Coffee mug on table, multiple coffee cup ring stains on tablecloth. Croissant in upper right corner with some crumbs
Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Anna Surbatovich

I downloaded the Noom app on a whim while rocking my friend’s newborn at 3 a.m. Although Noom is a health tracker, I found the daily reading assignments intriguing — and not just from a fitness standpoint. The app delivers these assignments as bite-sized articles to be read or listened to, and users earn rewards for reading the day’s “psych tricks.” (There are even quizzes.) 

Some of the concepts were familiar to me from my experience with cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of psychotherapy aimed at changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviors to have a positive effect on feelings and overall well-being. The app encourages me to use the same tools — such as replacing an all-or-nothing thought with a true, but more helpful thought — through the lens of fitness objectives.    

My experience with the app has been so successful and fun, that I began to wonder if I could employ the app’s “psych tricks” on a different goal — namely, cleaning my home. Here’s how Noom is (unintentionally) making my home a little lovelier.

Define your “big picture.” 

My “big picture” for my home is creating a relaxing place to work and connect with my family. In moments when I’m about to lose it over a backpack on the floor, taking a deep breath and remembering my all-caps big picture helps put things in perspective. 

Reframe thought distortions. 

I try not to think, “My washing machine is obnoxiously gross,” but rather, “I get to try that new Bissell SteamShot I saw on TikTok.” At the end of a long day, “I deserve a break,” can become, “I deserve to relax in a clean bathroom.” At first, it felt like I was lying to myself, but eventually, I started to believe the words coming out of my mouth.

Habit bundle. 

Noom’s recommendation to bundle a treat like a new audiobook with a workout easily translates to a deep-clean routine. To reap the full benefit of this practice, I would ideally save the audiobook for cleaning only, but I don’t pretend to have self-control when it comes to novels.

Set SMART goals. 

“I’m going to stay on top of cleaning the bathroom,” is not SMART, because it’s not specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, or time-based (aka SMART). “For the next month, I’m going to spend 15 minutes spraying and wiping the shower, sink, and toilet every Saturday after my hike,” is a much smarter goal (assuming I don’t skip the hike). 

Focus on one value.

I never leave out food crumbs overnight. Everything else is negotiable. 

Make it routine. 

Create a habit, such as “I always wipe the sink after washing my face.”

Set limits. 

I only deep clean for an hour a week, and what gets done is what gets done. 

Eliminate tasks. 

I donate things I hate to clean (looking at you, glass top coffee table), and I declutter regularly to make it easy to access floors and counters. 

Make it fun. 

I periodically reward myself for reaching my cleaning goals with a small purchase (or epic splurge), and I always include something fun in my cleaning routine, like a great-smelling all-purpose spray. 

Noom is basically an over-the-top cheerleader in my pocket, so I’m channeling that enthusiasm and cheering myself on this summer. The results have been fantastic so far, and I don’t even have to log my cleaning tasks in an app. 

Have you tried any of these “psych tricks?” Let us know in the comments.