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How many calories does cleaning burn?

cleaners working with products in hand and other mopping floor - how many calories does cleaning burn

Discover why housework is good for your health as we calculate the calorie burn from mopping the floor to cleaning the toilet

Getting stuck into a deep clean can do wonders for our mental health, but did you know it’s also a good opportunity to drop some calories too?

Whether it’s wielding a feather duster or pulling out your best cordless vacuum to attack the carpets for an afternoon, you naturally expend energy every day by moving around performing daily tasks. This process, known as NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), burns calories without actively engaging in sports or exercise. While the amount of lost calories depends on a few factors like your age, weight, gender and BMI (Body Mass Index), being aware of the NEAT process helps you to view housework as a “mini unofficial workout” that can trigger your metabolism for a “micro burn” and improve your health.

Does cleaning count as exercise?

Absolutely. Any and every type of physical activity is a form of exercise, and it’s really important for cardiovascular health, cognitive function and mental wellbeing. NHS 2019 guidelines recommend that adults aged 19 and over should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per week. These activities can include housework, manual work, gardening and DIY – and be in sessions of any duration.

By doing regular housework, you’re moving your body, increasing your heart rate, engaging your muscles – and while it might feel incidental, all these movements do add up.

How many calories does cleaning burn?

It depends on the type of cleaning and how long you spend doing it. Cleaning activities undertaken while standing relatively still (like washing up or dusting) burn fewer calories, while more strenuous tasks that require plenty of movement and/or heavy lifting can quickly rack up an impressive calorie tally. For example, we found that ten minutes of mopping burned a whopping 40 calories – while ten minutes of walking was only slightly more at 48 calories.

We recorded a series of cleaning activities around the house using an Apple watch, and calculated how many calories we burned as a result.

(Note: our researcher is female, 5ft 3in and 53kg, and used an Apple watch on the mixed cardio activity setting.)

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Mopping: 61 calories in ten minutes

mopping graphic - how many calories does cleaning burnA “full body effort” is required to properly mop your floors, so it makes sense that this cleaning activity burns the most calories – and it can actually be a pretty fun task if you’ve got the right tools.

The best mops are designed for hassle-free cleaning, and while you don’t have to mop your home every day, it’s a good idea to mop high traffic areas like the kitchen or hallway once a week. An hourly mopping session every week results in 366 burned calories: that’s 1,464 per month.

mopping graphic - how many calories does cleaning burnVacuuming: 58 calories in ten minutes

With so many lightweight, quiet and powerful vacuum cleaners on the market, using one is now an enjoyable cleaning task – and a good thing too, as it’s recommended to vacuum carpeted areas at least once or twice a week to clear up dust and allergens.

person vacuuming hardwood floor in domestic setting - how many calories does cleaning burn

A quick ten minute blitz of the carpets can burn 58 calories, but if you spend an hour with the hoover you’ll burn 348 calories per session or 1,392 calories in a month.

vacuuming graphic - how many calories does cleaning burn

Cleaning limescale in the shower: 52 calories in ten minutes

There are plenty of hard water areas in the UK, so we’re unfortunately well versed in removing limescale from taps, shower heads and shower screens. On the plus side, tackling the bathroom at least once a month for a good old fashioned deep clean can easily burn 312 calories in an hour.

It’s also worth wiping down the shower screen each week and spraying it every day; ten minutes of this activity daily will result in 1,612 calories burned over the month.

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Cleaning a toilet (inside and out): 44 calories in ten minutes

Limescale doesn’t just affect taps and shower screens – it’s a problem for your loo, too. Staying on top of a regular toilet cleaning routine can prevent that limescale buildup from becoming too hardened to remove. That means cleaning inside the toilet bowl, under the rim, and scrubbing the exterior with disinfectant. Using a decent toilet brush is handy in this situation too.

While a simple squirt of toilet cleaner in the bowl can be a weekly activity, it’s beneficial to do a deep clean at least twice a month, if not more frequently. Spending 30 minutes every fortnight can burn off 264 calories too.

Cleaning the bathroom sink and surfaces: 44 calories in ten minutes

As the toilet is a breeding ground for airborne bacteria, it’s sensible to clean your bathroom surfaces with disinfectant spray at least once a week. Clean inside the bathtub twice a month or more often if you have regular baths, because that soap scum will linger too.

Alongside your limescale shower cleaning, a weekly bathroom cleaning sprint of ten minutes will burn 176 calories in a month.

Washing up: 40 calories in ten minutes

person with pink washing up gloves on washing up a plate by the sink - how many calories does cleaning burn

Washing up every day is a no-brainer in order to avoid a cluttered kitchen worktop and to keep bugs and bacteria at bay. Washing up plates and cutlery by hand can easily burn 40 calories for a ten minute stint, but if you’re washing up more dishes for a bigger family – say, a half hour (120kcal) every night – then you’ll burn 840 calories per week, or 3,720 calories per month.

Dusting: 40 calories in ten minutes

Dusting is one of those occasional tasks, whenever you spot a tell-tale grey layer on a mantelpiece or windowsill. Ten minutes once a week may not feel like much, but that’s 160 calories a month just for sweeping that yellow duster around – not too shabby.

dusting graphic - how many calories does cleaning burnREAD NEXT: Best toilet brushes

Cleaning windows: 38 calories in ten minutes

Cleaning the outside of your windows is not the most regular of household chores, but it still requires a fair amount of effort during the couple of times a year it’s necessary. Aside from the potential ladder-clambering, you’ll be squeegeeing, body stretching and wielding various window cleaning tools – multiplied by the number of windows you’re tasked with cleaning – meaning an hour spent cleaning windows can easily burn off 228 calories without even thinking.

In winter, any single-glazed sash window owners will know the pain of indoor condensation dripping onto window sills too (we highly recommend keeping a window vac close to hand for sorting this out). Spending ten minutes a day wiping off condensation easily adds up to 266 calories a week.

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