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Spring-Cleaning: Here’s How Many Calories You Burn During 15 Common Chores

You can spring-clean your home and burn calories at the same time by doing several household chores, from sweeping the floors to pulling weeds.

Household utensils for hygiene and cleanliness. Washing powder, clothespins, rubber gloves, brushes are household items. View from above. House utensils of different kinds. Hygiene products for home.EVGENIYA68/Shutterstock

Spring-clean and burn calories

Doing chores around the house may not feel as much like exercise as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or any workout for that matter. (These are the workouts that burn the most calories, according to science.) But, if you spend enough time cleaning or doing multiple chores at once, those calories can add up. Read on to see just how many calories you burn after 30 minutes of various spring-cleaning activities. Note: These calculations were made using the average weights of American women (166 lbs) and men (195 lbs) over the age of 20 based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a calculator from CalorieLab.

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Sweeping the floors

Sweeping the floors can give your arms and legs a bit of a workout. In just half an hour, women can burn 87 calories and men can burn a total of 102 calories. If you’re sweeping for a full hour, women and men can burn anywhere between 174 to 204 calories.

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Vacuuming

Vacuuming can burn slightly more calories than just sweeping. In 30 minutes, vacuuming burns 94 calories for women and 111 calories for men. You may even be motivated to vacuum the whole house. Tip: Make it fun and do some dance moves as you push the vacuum forward and back. (Here is how to burn more calories in less time.)

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Dusting the furniture

Simply dusting the furniture in your house can count as a bit of exercise. Women can burn 57 calories while men can burn 66 calories in just 30 minutes. (If you have a dust allergy, here are 7 smart strategies for ridding your home of dust.)

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Washing dishes by hand

A dishwasher is an important kitchen staple that can save you time and energy. But, if you’re looking to burn some extra calories, try washing your dishes by hand. In just 30 minutes, women can burn 49 calories while men can burn 58 calories. Need some inspiration to exercise? Here are some good ways to get going.

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Taking out the trash

You may debate with your roommate, significant other, or the kids on who’s taking out the trash. But, here’s a reason why you should volunteer. Taking out the trash can burn 57 calories for women and 58 calories for men. Plus, you could give your arms a good workout lifting the heavy bags.

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Organizing your bedroom

Spring-cleaning often involves clearing out the clutter. Decluttering the bedroom can burn up to 189 calories for women and 223 calories for men. Tip: Use this moment to also change your bedsheets. You can stretch your legs and do a lunge as you tuck your bed sheets on each side.

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Scrubbing the bathtub

Scrubbing surfaces like the bathtub can give you what feels like a full-body workout. After 30 minutes, women can lose up to 106 calories and men lose up to 124 calories. Plus, using your arms to scrub back and forth can help build your upper body strength and work towards toning your biceps.

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Washing windows

From the inside and out, you can burn calories when washing your windows. In just a 30-minute window washing session, women can burn 126 calories and men 149 calories. (Also, find out how quitting cardio helps one woman lose weight.)

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Rearranging your living room furniture

Rearranging furniture can be daunting, but it could be a big help when it comes to getting some exercise. Moving things around in the living room can burn up to 189 calories for women and 221 calories for men in 30 minutes. Always remember to use caution when lifting heavy items. (Are you into lifting? Here are 15 weightlifting mistakes that could ruin your workout.)

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Sweeping the front walk

Similar to sweeping the floors inside your home, sweeping the front walk (if you have one), can help burn calories. A 30-minute sweep with the broom can burn off 113 calories for women and 133 calories for men. (If you’re looking to meet your step goal, here’s how to walk more steps per day.)

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Washing the car

Although tempting, skip the carwash drive-thru. Instead, opt to do it yourself. After just 30 minutes, women burn 76 calories and men burn off 89 calories. Double your calorie burn and work up a sweat losing anywhere from 152 calories to 178 calories in an hour. Here’s how many calories are in a pound and what it really takes to lose one pound in a week.

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Watering plants

Watering plants is not only therapeutic, it can also help you burn more calories. Women burn off 57 calories and men burn off 66 calories while tending to the greenery. (There are some surprising benefits of gardening and here are the best air-cleaning plants, according to NASA.)

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Mowing the lawn

Mowing the lawn may not be your favorite activity. But, if you’re looking to maximize how many calories you burn in 30 minutes, look no further. Women can burn 170 calories while men can burn 199 calories, all while getting some fresh air and keeping your lawn neat and orderly.

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Pulling weeds

Cleaning out your garden and pulling weeds can help build and strengthen muscles. Just doing 30 minutes of pulling weeds can help women burn 132 calories and 155 calories for men. Do this for an hour and you can burn over 200 calories.

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Moving boxes of winter clothes into the attic

Spring-cleaning is the perfect time to rearrange your closet. Move out your winter clothes to make room for your spring and summer clothes. Simply moving boxes from the bedroom to the attic by going up and down the stairs can burn a significant amount of calories. In just 30 minutes, women can burn 302 calories and men can burn 354 calories.

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What about other chores?

The CalorieLab has a nifty tool that can calculate the calories burned during dozens of activities just by putting in your weight. But if the activity you’re searching for isn’t listed there, you can calculate approximate calories burned with one equation. Here’s how it works:

  1. Find the metabolic equivalent (MET) of the activity, which is the intensity rate you’re exerting. Don’t worry: Arizona State University and the National Cancer Institute already did that for you.
  2. Multiply the MET by 3.5 (the number of milliliters of oxygen you consume per kilogram of your body weight)
  3. Multiply that number by your weight in kilograms (to convert from pounds, divide your weight by 2.2046)
  4. Divide that number by 1,000 (so you’re working in liters instead of milliliters)
  5. Multiply that number by 5, since you burn 5 calories for every liter of oxygen you breathe in
  6. Last but not least, multiply that by the number of minutes you engaged in the activity. Voila, the number of calories burned.

Next, read these easy ways to spring-clean your diet.

Sources
Medically reviewed by Michael Spertus, MD, on May 15, 2020