Meet the Cleanfluencers
In March 2020, Brandon Pleshek’s family cleaning business, Professional care of Pioneer rugs, was forced to temporarily close its doors – the first time in 40 years – due to Wisconsin’s “Safer Home” order. The carpet maintenance and corporate cleaning business was shut down for almost three months, so understandably Brandon, who describes himself as a “third generation janitor and a cleanliness freak,” turned up. turned to TikTok for entertainment – and a potential business opportunity.
He created his own profile, aptly named “CleanThatUp”, and began posting older videos that had been used in the past to promote his family’s business. It didn’t take long to go through his entire catalog, so he started filming new TikToks on his iPhone – sometimes a lapse of time while he was cleaning up. a carpet riddled with animal stains, other times a short and simple advice on How to clean a dishwasher filter. The number of views and comments multiplied daily and to date it has accumulated 1.1 million followers and 22 million likes.
Melissa Maker, founder of Clean My Space, launched her YouTube channel in 2011, years before TikTok even existed. Soon after starting her housekeeping service in Toronto, her husband Chad convinced her to post cleaning videos online in order to introduce their business to a wider audience. “I remember him saying, ‘It would help spread our name and who knows, maybe it will become something.’ I was in disbelief, thinking, who would ever go and watch us clean up, ”she said. Good Housekeeping. Chad was on to something – and within a few years their videos were reaching thousands of people around the world and making a huge profit.
And while Melissa leans on the basics of cleaning up rather than the shock and fear of crude to gorgeous transformations, she’s found that her 1.79 million subscribers are coming back to her channel because they are convinced that she “will never tell them to do anything that isn’t necessary. Her videos, while longer than Brandon’s 30- or 60-second TikToks, are relatively short, smooth, and to the point, often ending around the bar. 10 minutes. There are standard procedures (“How to clean a mattress” has just over 14 million views), product-focused guides (“7 Cool Ways To Use Hydrogen Peroxide”) and over 500 other videos that aim to “help you clean, declutter, organize and simplify your life”.
Meanwhile, Jessica Tull has forged her own path – a path that many other people (parents, in particular) can relate to. She first launched her YouTube channel four years ago to supplement her income as a single mother of three. now she’s pulling six figures a year by posting a mix of cleaning videos, cooking tips, and follow-up vlogs. His “Clean With Me” videos took off and remain to this day his most viewed videos on his channel, which currently has 524,000 subscribers. She doesn’t pretend to be an expert (“I’m just a mom who has to clean her house like everyone else,” she says), but her daily approach to cleaning is what draws viewers. She doesn’t care to educate her subscribers, but instead allows them to follow her as she tackles the mess in her own space.
Brandon, Melissa and Jessica are three of today’s biggest cleanfleuncers (aka cleaning influencers).
Once reserved for a small corner of the internet, clean influencers have gained more prominence in recent years – and as a result, millions of people can’t get enough of the calming effect their videos have on them. Netflix shows like Get organized with The Home Edit and Cleaning with Marie Kondo may lay the groundwork for increased cleaning content, but cleanfluencers are those who dig into the smallest details of the mundane, something far more achievable than what’s shown on TV. The concept is by no means new – Carolyn Forte, our own director of the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab, has influenced millions of readers for decades, for example – but TikTok, YouTube and Instagram have collectively given these experts (some trained, others self-proclaimed) a way to exercise their talents beyond their own four walls.
This became particularly evident during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Confined to their homes, many have taken to social media to heal their quarantine boredom and subsequently seek answers to their top cleaning questions – or at the very least, relish the joy of watching someone from home. other do the dirty work. Search for common keywords like “cleaning,” “laundry” and “how to clean” skyrocketed in mid-2020, according to Google Trends – and the numbers on social media reflect this new interest in cleaning. The #CleanTok hashtag on TikTok, which covers everything from refills of ASMR-compatible refrigerators to top-to-bottom transformations in room organization, has surpassed 23 billion views in the past year. On YouTube, “Clean With Me” videos dominate the Trending page every week, gaining from creators like Alexandra Beuter, 60,000 views in just five days.
Between the tips, tricks and time lapses, viewers find a sense of comfort. For some, the before-after transformations, often set to serene music, reassure; for others, the idea that strangers – experts, nothing less – are also prone to dirt and grime is a relief. “It’s a relief to know that even cleaning experts like Melissa Maker sometimes encounter UDOs (disgusting unidentified objects) at home,” someone commented on Melissa’s video titled “Clean the dirtiest areas of my house. “
Jessica knows people are coming to her channel to feel seen, not just to see how someone else is living. “People like to see a messy house. They can count on me to show exactly what my house looks like without shame, ”she explains. To make sure she keeps things as real as possible, she never plans her filming days in advance; when she needs a video, she sets up her camera, presses record, and cleans for five to eight hours straight. She’ll keep all of the highlights – the t-shirt stains, unmade beds, counters filled with crumbs and guest appearances from her kids – but later edit the video until it’s done. a more digestible duration, between 30 and 40 minutes. .
The same goes for Mélissa. At one point, she noticed that other designers were showing off their polished spaces to perfection, which prompted her to move forward with her approach to what you see is what you get. “So much of the content available online is ambitious. We don’t want people to feel like they’re yearning for me – because even on my best day my house is always a mess. We just want to put the tools out there to help them out when they need it. ”
Of course, social media is constantly evolving, as are the wants and needs of cleanfluencers. Videos will always be at the heart of what they do, but now many are looking for other ways to grow their business. Jessica, who recently made her longest-running brand partnership to date with Affresh, hopes one day you’ll see her on your TV screen, hosting her own talk show. As for Melissa, she is working to expand her line of products focused on microfiber, Maker’s Clean. (For info, the Manufacturer’s mop won a Good Housekeeping Cleaning price earlier this year.)
Brandon, who started making TikToks a “fun distraction,” says his TikTok account is set to become even more important than his family’s business, at least financially. Although he makes money from the TikTok Creators Fund, he has become too unpredictable to be able to count on a steady income. (“It’s kind of like surfing. You paddle out there, wait for the wave, hit the wave, watch it crash and turn around to start all over again. But sometimes you don’t even hit a wave in. first. ”) Instead, he takes a more proactive approach by reaching out to brands he already uses, including Scrub Daddy and Hoover, for sponsorship opportunities. “Cleaning is very product-based so it’s natural to include them in the videos, especially if they’re the same brands my family has been using for decades,” he explains. Although Brandon doesn’t disclose exactly how much he made from brand partnerships, he tentatively suggested it was “more money” than he had ever “thought possible.”
Going forward, he plans to produce long-running YouTube videos in tandem with TikToks. But even as he moves closer and closer to being a full-time content creator (“That’s the goal right now”), he will continue to use his platform and years of expertise to help its local community stay clean (or even visit its virtual viewers’ homes once it is safer to do so). “It really opened a door for me and my family to understand that our cleaning techniques can really impact people beyond our local community,” he said. Good Housekeeping.
And for those skeptics who think the tendency to watch other people clean their homes will soon pass, Brandon offers an important reminder, “Dust doesn’t sleep, and dirt and grime is here to stay, so I don’t think so. we “I’ll never run out of content.”