Why Cleaning and Organizing Are Good For Brain Health

Do you enjoy doing household chores? Many people see these tasks as annoying, but the good news is that they’re really healthy for us! Cleaning and organizing your home can have positive cognitive effects, such as preventing dementia and improving working memory and executive function skills. In this article, we’ll explore why cleaning and organizing are good for brain health.

Preventing dementia

Research has shown that a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to the onset of dementia. Therefore, incorporating habits into your life that involve moving your body, even if those activities don’t involve strenuous exercise, may help to prevent dementia. One study, published in Neurology, found that regular household chores, such as cleaning and organizing the home, could lower the risk of dementia by 21%. 

Dr. Vijay Ramanan, MD, PhD, notes that maintaining independence with completing chores is beneficial even for someone who is already developing dementia. It may seem like the obvious helpful choice for family members to step in to help with household chores, but as long as the individual with dementia is still capable of safely completing housework, it can be good for their cognition to continue with household responsibilities such as cleaning up and washing dishes.

Completing more strenuous physical exercise that gets your heart rate up is also important for maintaining physical and cognitive health. But, household chores can contribute to more continuous movement throughout the day which is very healthy for both body and brain.

Cleaning also has the general benefit of making your home a healthier and happier place to live. If you aren’t overwhelmed by dishes in the sink or piles of clothes on the floor, you’ll likely be able to function better and avoid distraction more easily.

Working on executive function

The problem-solving and planning skills involved in cleaning and organizing your home are important executive functions. These skills are used in day-to-day life, for example you may need to problem-solve and plan at work, when shopping for groceries, and when budgeting. If you are working on executive functions, cleaning and organizing within your home is a great way to exercise these skills.

Improving working memory

According to William R Klemm, Ph.D., organization is good for our working memory. The working memory can only hold so much information at once, so keeping an organized space and organized to-do list can simplify what our working memory needs to hold at any given time. If we have disorganized thoughts or surroundings, it can cause our working memory to become cluttered and overstimulated, making us less efficient.

There are simple methods of organization that can help us every day, such as keeping our keys and wallet in the same place all the time, and organizing miscellaneous papers into a filing drawer. 

He also recommends organizing our digital lives. Don’t let digital files accumulate without any organization – be sure to use folders within your computer so that you know how to find files again. Making use of bookmarks within your internet browser for pages you want to find again, digital sticky notes, and keeping a digital calendar can also help us to organize our lives and our brains, allowing working memory to work more optimally.


Cleaning and organizing may not be everyone’s favorite part of their day. However, if we remind ourselves how good for our brains these activities are, it may provide a helpful reframe! Cleaning and staying organized can help to prevent dementia in older age, and can also improve our working memory and executive functions by reducing distracting stimulus.

Aly Castle

Aly is HappyNeuron Pro’s Content Specialist. She is passionate about mental health and well-being and loves utilizing her design background to share important cognitive information clearly and understandably.

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