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From Dusting to Dishes: How Many Calories Could You Burn per Standard Household Chore?

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Household cleaning splits the nation. Some people can’t think of a worse activity to dedicate a Saturday morning to, while others actually enjoy doing chores and claim they have therapeutic value. 

Whichever side of the freshly-painted fence you sit on, it’s difficult to deny that a clean home doesn’t often do wonders for your mental health.

In the UK, people spend an average of six days a year cleaning their homes. Like it or loathe it, there are tonnes of benefits to getting our clean on, and it can even be classed as exercise. Feed two birds with one sugar-free scone. 

Experts at Oceans look at how many calories you can expect to burn per household chore. 

Factors affecting calorie burn

First, it’s important to note that there are several factors that can determine how many calories you zap throughout any given day. These include:

Diet – The food you consume plays a crucial role in the number of calories you burn. For example, incorporating lots of protein in your diet means more energy is required to digest, which leads to burning more calories.

Age – While we agree that “you’re only as old as you feel”, aging does mean our muscle mass decreases and our metabolism slows down, therefore fewer calories are worked off.

Gender – Men and women are equal...well, almost. Men do typically have a higher muscle mass and therefore tend to burn more calories than women, making gender a determining factor. 

Rough estimates of calorie burn per chore

Based on a 180lb person spending 30 minutes on each activity, you could expect to burn the following calories per typical household chore. 

Vacuuming: 138 calories

Spending 30 minutes vacuuming the floor can burn more calories than 15 minutes on a cross-trainer! If we had to choose between the two, we’d pick the activity that gives us fresh carpets and floors free of any dust, dirt, or debris. This chore is a handy form of exercise as it requires lots of steps and is powered by both your arms and legs.


Mopping: 146 calories

Like vacuuming, mopping is a great way to shift calories as it relies on moving your whole body. You could even turn things up a notch by lunging forward instead of stepping, and make sure you’re really using those biceps as you move the mop back and forth. Voilà: sparkling floors and 146 calories gone.


Dusting and polishing: 96 calories

Despise the thought of dusting shelves and polishing furniture? Just remember that 30 minutes can burn as many as 96 calories! From using eco kitchen roll to wipe down the kitchen counters, to grabbing the feather duster to access hard-to-reach places, the vigorous wiping and swiping will keep your arms in good shape.

Jordan Kelly, brand marketing manager at Oceans, said: “Dusting can be one of the most annoying chores. Many people hate it because dust contains unhealthy particles such as allergens, pollen and mould spores, but that's all the more reason to get it done regularly and efficiently. And get your body moving while you do it.”

Putting away the shopping: 104 calories

Shopping is fun, but the putting away part? Not so much. A positive, however, is that this task can shift more than 100 calories. Collecting the heavy bags from your car or front door, and then putting each individual item in the fridge, freezer, and cupboard, all contributes to a healthier you! Even if one of those items happen to be chocolate muffins (we won’t tell).


Watering plants: 104 calories

Plants are hungry creatures. Spending 30 minutes hydrating your violas, veronicas, and various houseplants can burn 104 calories. Not only will your plants continue to stay alive as well as thrive, but you’ll give your body a light workout at the same time. No plants or flowers at home? Well, this is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself and reap the countless benefits associated with owning some.

Changing bed sheets: 138 calories

Wrapping yourself in fresh bed sheets after a tiring day can feel like pure and utter joy. What’s more, the dreaded part that comes before the bliss can burn the same number of calories as a packet of crisps! Perhaps that can be your treat once the housework is done? Just make sure you don’t enjoy them from your bed, as pesky crumbs could lead to you needing to repeat the chore all over again.

Organising a room: 200 calories

A staggering 200 calories can be worked off by spending half an hour vigorously decluttering and organising a room. Spend an entire morning dedicated to each room in your home and you could burn around 1,000 calories! Don’t get distracted by old photo albums and trinkets, and waste time sitting on the floor that for later.

Washing dishes: 129 calories

Enjoying a delicious, home-cooked meal unfortunately means often returning to a kitchen that’s filled with dishes that need washing. Don’t fret; snap on those rubber gloves, take a deep breath, and get to work. By the time you're done cleaning and all your utensils are gleaming, you could have burned off around 129 calories! That’s not bad considering washing dishes tends to be an unavoidable part of the day.


We know what you’ll be doing this weekend...


While these are only estimates and actual calorie burn may vary per chore, any activity that gets your body moving is worthwhile. However, you must remember it's important you get regular physical activity to improve and maintain your overall health and well-being, so try not to rely solely on sporadic cleaning sessions as exercise. It’s a fantastic place to start, though!

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