How Mindful Housekeeping Adds Sparkle To Everyday Chores

Introduction To Mindful Housekeeping

Does mindful housekeeping sound like a scheme your mother cooked up to get you to do your chores as a kid?

Well however unlikely, applying mindfulness to mundane tasks like washing the dishes is a hot topic.

The benefits of mindfulness are well documented. It lowers stress levels, blood pressure, rasing well-being, and physical and mental health. 

Yet finding time to practice mindfulness with our busy schedules challenges us.

So it makes sense to apply mindfulness principles to daily tasks we do around the house.

Frankly, I do anything to make those chores a little less mind-numbing.

How about you?

The next time you haul out the vacuum cleaner or the feather duster try some of these mindful techniques.

General Principles for Mindful Housekeeping

Before I get into those principles I chose these inspiring word from a master of mindfulness Thich Nhat Hanh:

“While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly. Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality.”

Source The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

Okay, now you are enthused, right.


  1. Slow down.

Trying to rush through chores may create more stress. Budget enough time to do a thorough job. Relax and move deliberately.

I know when I rush through doing the dishes I invariable miss some stuck-on bits. Then I have to wash it again.

But even if you use a dishwasher you can adapt loading and unloading the dishes mindfully.

With mindfulness, it’s about using your five senses to fully experience the moment. The feel of a white coffee mug, the way it shines, how it smells, the enjoyment you get the next time you use it.

  1. Follow your breath.

Pause for a few minutes of deep breathing before you break out the mop and bucket. See if you can create a natural rhythm that coordinates your actions with your breath.

Take this opportunity to work with breath because normally we pay very little attention to our breathing. Studies show it offers important health benefits.

Read Why Mindful Breathing Benefits Mind and Body


  1. Use both hands.

Working with two hands is more efficient. As a bonus, using your non-dominant hand is a powerful mental exercise because your brain has to think about what you’re doing.

Mindfulness is both a practice and a state of mind that revolves around having more presence, attention, and focus.

The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”– Jon Kabat-Zinn

     4. Chant out loud.

Mantras can help you stay focused. Choose a word or phrase from scripture you love or any inspirational reading.

One way to do this is to relate the physical activity to your mind.

As an example, as I scrub the sink I scrub mind clean of clutter.

Or just an affirmation linked to your movements.

Example: I am happy: sweep. I am grateful: sweep.

   5. Engage your senses.

Participate fully in your work. Pay attention to the scent of freshly washed sheets and the texture of your cleaning cloths. Listen to the hum of your robotic vacuum and notice the sparkling surfaces on your steel appliances.

Remember to notice things like color, it’s vibrancy, is it a flat finish or glossy. As we notice details our mind becomes centered and less distracted.

   6. Go natural.

It makes sense to avoid toxic chemicals while you’re purifying your inner and outer environments. Browse online for information about natural cleaning methods and products. Discover how much you can accomplish with vinegar and baking soda.

YouTube is a great resource.

Part of the whole mindfulness experience is the satisfaction of doing things or making things with our hands.

   7. Just clean.

Be present for your activities. Let go of rehashing the past or planning for the future while you’re cleaning. Handle each object with care and take satisfaction in removing dirt and grime.

   8. Look deeper.

On the other hand, you may feel more creative. Be open to ideas that help you to see house cleaning as a spiritual practice.

Specific Exercises for Mindful Housekeeping:  

   1.   Vacuum the rug.

As you vacuum, imagine being able to vacuum your mind the same way you clean your carpet. What habits and self-limiting beliefs would you want to remove? What would your thoughts look like without such baggage?

The important thing is not to let your mind drift off but keep it focused on the sensations of vacuuming. Again the sounds, the smells, the feel of the vacuum pulling on the carpet.

   2.        Dust the shelves.

It’s a myth that dust is mostly skin cells, but it can teach you about change.

As you dust the various objects in your house, feel the emotion of gratitude for all the wonderful things you have.

Take a moment to actually look at that wedding photo or a picture of your grandparents.

You may also appreciate your present life more when you remember that things will eventually decay and turn to dust.

“Do every act of your life as though it were the last act of your life.”

Source:  Marcus Aurelius

   3.        Wash the dishes.

One university study found that washing dishes mindfully increased inspiration by 25% and lowered anxiety by 27%. Gather the items that you can’t put in the dishwasher. Fill the sink with warm water and enjoy the suds.

Are you still skeptical?

Click here to read: Washing Dishes to Wash the Dishes: Brief Instruction in an Informal Mindfulness Practice


   4.        Scrub the tub.

Your bathroom is where you go to wash yourself, so cleaning it is like going to the source.

If you feel like you’ve been patching over issues in your daily life, take a step back and examine the root causes. You may be able to make more lasting repairs.

“Living 24 hours with mindfulness is more worthwhile than living 100 years without it.”

Source: The Buddha

   5.        Do laundry.

Your skin may look like just a casing, but it’s living tissue and the largest organ in your body.

Keeping the clothes that touch it soft and clean helps you to stay healthy and comfortable.

You may also find it relaxing to watch a load spin around in the washer or dryer.

“Wherever you are, be there totally.”

Souce: Eckhart Tolle

   6.        Clear away clutter.

A tidy house encourages mindfulness and makes cleaning easier.

 Buy less stuff and sort through your current possessions to get rid of things you no longer need.

Be sure to donate them to Goodwill or some other organization that can make good use of the items by passing them along to people who are in need.

Not only are you clearing you mind of clutter you are being of service at the same time.

Gretchen  Rubin  author of The Happiness Project  The Happiness Project, Tenth Anniversary Edition: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun wrote about the huge benefits of a small mindful household chore, making your bed.

Click here to Read Make Your Bed 


Mindful Housekeeping is a way to kill two birds with one stone, get your chores done but in a way that lifts them from drudgery to a stress relieving activity.

While all the activities above can help alleviate many of our modern diseases, mindfulness brings us into the present moment where we actually live. The place of tranquility, joy, happiness and love.

If practice mindfulness while washing a few dishes can do that for you–then why not make mindful housekeeping part of your daily life.

“Pure awareness transcends thinking. It allows you to step outside the chattering negative self-talk and your reactive impulses and emotions. It allows you to look at the world once again with open eyes.

And when you do so, a sense of wonder and quiet contentment begins to reappear in your life.”

Source: Mark Williams

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