6 Five-Minute Cleaning Tasks That’ll Give You an Immediate Boost in Mood

published May 17, 2023
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You’ve tried going on walks, spending time in the sun, and eating better and exercising — but the one activity you might not realize has been proven to improve mental health is cleaning, Cleveland Clinic reports. While it might seem like your most dreaded task, living without mess and clutter is linked to improved moods and decreased rates of depression and tension.

But who has time for a full day of whole house cleaning? Instead, I reached out to organizers, psychologists, and home cleaners to determine the fastest bursts of cleaning you can do to get an immediate mood bump. Give these tasks a go with the help of a five-minute timer, and see how you feel. Note: No five-minute cleaning task is going to solve true mental health conditions alone, so seek help from your medical provider, not from a fun list of fast mood-boosting cleaning tasks, if needed as well.

Make those handles shine.

Your home will feel immediately cleaner, more sanitized, and shinier if you wipe door knobs, kitchen handles, and other similar surfaces in a five-minute cleaning spree. “These surfaces get extra dirty so there is an immediate ‘shine’ or clean feeling. Plus, the feedback is within seconds meaning the dopamine hit comes quickly,” says psychologist and author Dr. Bethany Cook.

Do a laundry sprint to reduce clutter.

Contrary to what your laundry mountain tells you, you don’t have to do all the laundry in one day. If you just do five minutes per day, after a few days you might be caught up without any mountain to speak of. “Putting clothes away can feel overwhelming, boring, and tedious,” Cook says. “Nevertheless, studies show that a visually messy environment negatively impacts mental health.”

She recommends doing these five-minute sprints putting clothes away to reduce that clutter, and pairing it with fun music can make it way more exciting. “Music also alerts you when you’re done — this allows your brain to ‘rest’ during the mindless tidy task,” Cook says. “You will get a feel-good hit as well because the synergy between beat and body is psychologically processed in your brain as a connection.” 

Declutter and donate to someone in need.

Zoe Snow, a professional organizer and owner of Sorted By Snow, does a quick closet sort monthly, although she says some people prefer to do this seasonally. This can be done in five minutes, with a big mental and philanthropic payoff. Simply hold a trash bag, review each item, and ask “When did I last wear this?”

“If it hasn’t been worn in the last season, time to let it go. Not only will you feel more energized after finally getting rid of things that no longer serve you, but being able to donate your unused clothes to people who could actually use them will also give you all the feels,” she says. But don’t forget to move the bag directly to your car after or leave it by the entryway, and set a reminder to drop it off so your five-minute task isn’t drawn out into a multi-day affair. 

Give your computer a cleanout.

If your work days are dragging, a five-minute computer file cleanout might be in order. “Clean up your computer desktop — delete any unnecessary folders and documents, and then sort them alphabetically. This will allow you to work more efficiently, finding files quicker and your computer will work faster,” Snow recommends. This could lead to increased focus and productivity, and fewer cluttered feelings when you open your computer for a new work day tomorrow.

Create a lemon mood lift.

Lemons smell fresh and bright, even on a gloomy day. Hillary Thibodeau, owner of OrganiClean, recommends boiling a pot of lemons and herbs for an immediate mood boost. Although it’s not technically cleaning, it does seem to purify the air and make your home a much more pleasant place to be, helping you feel more “refreshed and energized,” she says. Follow the steps below.

  • Slice a lemon into thin rounds.
  • Fill a small pot with water and bring it to a boil.
  • Once the water is boiling, add the lemon slices and your herb of choice (i.e., rosemary).
  • After five to 10 minutes, turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Microwave a sponge.

When you only have five minutes, you have to look at quick hacks that have a big impact. Kathy Cohoon, the operations manager at Two Maids, recommends microwaving a sponge, instead of spending a longer amount of time scrubbing the microwave. “For a quick and easy way to clean the inside of your microwave, set a few damp sponges inside and microwave on high for one minute,” she says. “The moisture from the sponges will release inside the microwave, softening any dried food or spills. You’ll be able to wipe down any remaining crumbs with ease, saving you time scrubbing stuck-on stains.”