In addition to cleaning their homes for free, she often brings the families meals, groceries, cleaning supplies and toys for their kids.
Have you ever noticed a very palpable shift in your mood after a long-overdue home cleaning or decluttering session? That's because there is a direct correlation between mental health and neat and tidy living spaces. No one knows this better than Brogan Ingram, a psychology student who has been offering free home deep cleaning services to people in unlivable conditions so as to help them feel better and get their lives back on track. Ingram—who goes by @nottheworstcleaner on TikTok—has gained more than 4.2 million followers on the platform since she started the account two years ago, sharing how she salvages uninhabitable living conditions and otherwise toxic environments and turns them back into homes fit for families.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, Ingram explained that she approaches every project with "kindness and respect" as most of the people she donates her time to are single moms, people with disabilities and folks "clearly struggling with mental and/or physical health." In addition to cleaning their homes, she often brings the families meals, groceries, cleaning supplies and toys for their kids. "I have to remind followers regularly that absolutely no one wants to live the way these folks do, and it's not an active decision they are consciously making," Ingram shared. "The last thing they need is an immense amount of judgment from someone else. Their worth as human beings isn’t dependent on the cleanliness of their homes."
The young mother often reminds her followers online about the mental health aspect of cleaning. "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 explained. "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."
Unhygienic and messy living conditions "raise cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone," Ingram continued. "This can make easy tasks seem impossible, it can take away motivation, and it leads to procrastination. Unfortunately, this affects our mental health in negative ways and directly impacts anxiety, depression, sleep patterns and can raise the chances of developing heart disease." Before she started doing these deep cleanings on a regular basis, she had no idea that there are people in need right next door, Ingram said.
"I had no idea how much need there was, especially in my community. And once I did my first house and saw the extreme amount of relief and new lease on life that this sweet woman had, I knew I had to continue on with this work," she shared. Ingram explained that she always tries to set her clients up for success after she has cleaned their homes. "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," she said.
"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. 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. It's life-changing and will help you to avoid that negative mindset and resentment toward cleaning in general."