What the rise of the “cleanfluencer” says about us

“We all have a Kimberly kettle in our lives, but are you hanging it the way you should? Because mate, lime buildup can seriously affect your cups!”

So says Sophie Hinch, aka Mrs. Hinch, the Essex-born Instagrammer and cleaning guru. Hinch’s 2019 Handbook Hinch Yourself Happy sold out so quickly that she’s now the second-fastest nonfiction author of all time; lose only to Pinch of Nom, a weight loss cookbook co-authored by two plus-size chefs, which sold half a million copies in its first five weeks.

These are publishing’s most unlikely thrills, but the book world is now awash with cleanfluencers: content creators who have amassed millions of subscribers on their cleanup channels and, when the inevitable cross-book deal arrives, achieved breathtaking sales figures.

We can’t blame Covid. It all started long before, when organizational consultant Marie Kondo became a household name for her 2011 bestseller, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. More recently, a Netflix series Tidying Up followed Kondo as she visited the homes of messy people in America and taught them how to roll up their underwear.

If not the anxiety of confinement, then what does the rise of the cleanfluencer reveal? Is it how much we yearn to be told what to do? Often domestic advice is refreshingly simple: the latest cleanfluencer handbook, How to Clean Everything by TikTok sensation Ann Russell, reminds us that falling in love is all about pheromones, living clean is fundamentally about chemistry and the basic components are soda crystals and ammonia. (although “never, ever” together, warns Russell).

About Nicole Harmon

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