We all feel better living in clean and organized spaces, and Brogan Ingram, aka @nottheworstcleaner on TikTok, knows better than anyone just how much a clean home can better your mental health.
Both a professional cleaner and psychology student, Ingram started her TikTok account over two years ago and has gained an impressive 4.1 million followers. Initially she just offered tips and tricks on cleaning your home, before starting free home cleanings for people in unlivable situations, which she documents in her videos.
Here's an example of the kinds of projects she takes on:
Approaching every project with "kindness and respect," she salvages unlivable situations and otherwise toxic environments and turns them back into homes fit for families.
And she doesn't just stop at cleaning. She often brings the families meals or groceries, cleaning supplies, and even toys for the kids.
Brogan told BuzzFeed that although she's "cleaned an entire house in one weekend," the longest project she's ever had took "Seven full nine-hour days!" And she has over 100 people on her waiting list. Now that's commitment!
A lot of the people she donates her time to are single moms, people with disabilities, and folks "clearly struggling with mental and/or physical health."
The mental health aspect of cleaning is something that Brogan is very outspoken about, and more than equipped to handle. She told BuzzFeed, "During the last eight years studying psychology in University, I quickly became aware of the huge correlation between mental health and cleaning. I genuinely think it’s understudied, under-discussed, and has a huge lack of awareness."
She continued, "Clutter and mess subconsciously affect our brains in ways that we don’t realize. Our brains take in all of our surrounding stimuli, and if we are living in a messy, cluttered environment, it can actually trigger a low-grade fight or flight mode."
The effects of living in a messy home are much more serious than the vibes being off. "[These environments] raise cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone. ... This can make easy tasks seem impossible, it can take away motivation, and it leads to procrastination."
With shows like Hoarders that sensationalize living conditions like this, it's easy to forget that this sort of thing doesn't just happen on TV. It isn't all that uncommon, and Brogan has found that there are people in need right next door.
And her focus isn't on making quick fixes; she does her best to set her clients up for success. "I leave clients with enough supplies to get them started with general upkeep once I leave. Depending on the situation, I will leave them cleaning charts and schedules, chore charts for kids, and resources for mental health."
Overall, Ingram says the response she's gotten has been "overwhelming," and she's hearing from people all over the world who say "they thought they were alone in their situations" and others who tell her the videos have helped them change their "entire mindsets and made them less judgmental."
If you're not sure where to start on your cleaning journey, this absolute saint of a woman has two main tips for you:
1. Don't overthink it: "A good Scrub Daddy and dish soap are essential and will get you a long way if you’re just starting out! You can build your supply as you go, but start with the basics."
2. Don't try to do everything all at once: "Instead of waiting two weeks and spending an entire day cleaning the house top to bottom, break it down into room sections and do 30 minutes a day."
Whether you're looking to take care of your own home and mental health, or are looking to get out there to help your community, @nottheworstcleaner is an endless source of inspiration and practical advice.
You can follow her on TikTok and Instagram to see more of her cleaning and mental health content.