From rug transformations to deep clean tips, our TikTok feeds are full of cleaning videos.
#CleanTok has racked up more than 55 billion views on the app to date. Some videos include colorful personalities sharing cleaning tips and hacks, while others are straight ASMRfilled with the subtle sounds of vacuums and spray bottles.
So why are viewers obsessed with watching other people clean their homes? As avid #CleanTok groupies, we’ll attempt to explain…
What is #CleanTok?
Rachel: #CleanTok can be so many things! I get a lot of videos of people cleaning up after a dinner party or doing a ‘reset’. They make their bed, clear and wipe down a table, load the dishwasher and vacuum the floor. It’s all gentle sounds, repetitive motions, and soft lighting.
great basic stuff, but also very relaxing. I love watching them while lying in bed hungover, my room covered in dirty clothes and stuff I’m not bothered to clean up.
Tahnee: Don’t get me started on those ASMR cleaning videos, they are heaven! So calming but also weirdly motivating? My feed is full of Girl Boss vibes — independent, organized 30-somethings showing you how tidy their homes when it starts feeling like a hot mess.
Rachel: Love those DIYs! It is interesting we’re mostly getting women in our feed though – do you think there’s more pressure on women to be cleaning experts or to maintain a neat home? In some ways, it kind of feels like we’re reverting to trends like the stay-at-home girlfriend one.
Tahnee: I think many of us agree, women often carry a mental load when it comes to housework but I’m not sure if #CleanTok is necessarily adding to that. For me, it’s shining a light on the ‘unspoken’ workload women carry in their households.
I’m a sucker for a partner who cleans, so more guys on #CleanTokplease!
Rachel: Right! Normalizes doing the bare minimum.
I do really love how #CleanTok isn’t all flawless teen influencers in mansions – lots of people are cleaning up masses way worse than mine.
Tahnee: Sure! I like how you get this little glimpse into other people’s homes (in a non-stalkerish way). It feels refreshing not to see a perfectly aesthetic space all the time.
#CleanTok gets me going when I have to conjure up the motivation to do my Sunday clean. There’s nothing I love more than a clean house and the smell of fresh sheets but you know those hot summer days you’d rather be chillin’ at the beach? Those are the days I reach for #CleanTok.
Rachel: That’s why you do a Thursday night clean Tahnee! That’s what the TikTok girlies on my feed say anyway. You legally have to be outside on a sunny Sunday, I don’t make the rules.
Why do people care?
Rachel: There’s just something so satisfying about a ‘before and after’. It was dirty, and now it’s clean! Truly magic.
Tahnee: I reckon it’s the pleasure of seeing and almost imagining yourself in a sparkly fresh-smelling home – without all the elbow grease.
I did a little research and it turns out being in a messy space can affect our anxiety levels, sleep, and ability to focus. So even though we’re not the ones doing the cleaning, or even in the clutter-free space, maybe that’s part of the appeal?
Rachel: Sure! The New York Times found the same thing — they reckon a clean house can help us feel in control, and help manage anxiety. #CleanTok just goes back to the simple things in life — it’s natural to want things neat and ordered.
Plus, it’s nice to see the everyday and mundane romanticized in this way — I always go on about ‘main character energy,’ but after watching a bunch of CleanTok, I do kinda feel like I’m in a movie when I’m cleaning the toilet.
Tahnee: …Or vacuuming the floor (cue: This scene from Mrs. Doubtfire).
Rachel: It kind of also reminds me of other oddly viral hits – pimple popping and ear wax cleaning. Like why is getting satisfaction from someone steam-cleaning a rug any weirder than getting off on a post-candled ear?
Tahnee: I’ll take rug cleaning any day Rach… seeing other people’s bodily fluids makes me want to gag!
Rachel: On the other side of things, a lot of #CleanTok seems to just be for aesthetic satisfaction, without any actual expertise. But when you’re using hard chemicals, that’s not always super safe.
I don’t think one particle of poop would have even the slightest possibility of surviving. Only problem is, they’re basically creating poison? Like, mustard gas. And flushing it down the loo for the fishies. 10/10 happy!
Tahnee: I wonder how long their toilet pipes last? Anyway, we mustn’t forget science 101 and that’s knowing what chemicals are safe to mix. But also, using all those products together cancels their cleaning power out.
I was reminded of this when I spoke to a pharmacologist recently about DIY concoctions people are whipping up at home. I think it’s a good reminder for us to not trust everything we see on the internet no matter how good those results look!
Should you care?
Rachel: As someone who’s only recently moved into my first adult home (grotty share houses and student accommodation excluded), I feel like #CleanTok has kinda helped me become a grown-up. Who knew you had to wash your vacuum filters? Not me! But now I know, and I can feel like an #influencer while doing it.
Tahnee: I love this! Pure adulting at its finest. #CleanTok takes me back to childhood when mum used to do a big weekly Sunday clean to prepare for the new week ahead (it’s why I still do it today). Thing is, it used to take almost a day to do. Finding #CleanTok has given me little gems to make cleaning easier and quicker, giving me more time to enjoy my weekend and the finer things in life, like brunch by the beach.
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