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12 House Cleaning Chores That Burn Calories Every Minute

These everyday activities burn a lot of calories.
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

Having a clean home isn't just good for your mental state—it's also a great way to burn hundreds of calories, especially after age 50 when low-impact workouts are helpful. "All kinds of physical activity – not just formal exercise programs – burn calories and strengthen muscles," says the American Cancer Society. "As long as you're working at something hard enough to get you breathing harder and your heart beating faster, you're exercising. The more, the better, but even just 5 minutes at a time adds up." Here are 12 cleaning chores that burn calories after 50.


Young woman using vacuum cleaner at home, closeup

Cleaning company Homeaglow asked ten cleaners to wear Fitbits while they worked to find out how many calories were being burned. They discovered that cleaning the living room burns "6.3 calories per minute in the living room over 30+ mins", a heart rate that can be compared to a weight training session.


Woman wiping stainless steel refrigerator door with rag and cleaning agent. Housewife cleans the kitchen

Dusting can burn calories and engage arms and shoulders, "especially when you're reaching up high," certified personal trainer Stephanie Thomas tells the Washington Post. She recommends  "lunges or squats as you move around the room" and using alternate hands for each room to "create muscular balance."

Doing Laundry

Feel softness, asian young woman, female hand holding pile clothing from table, stack folding clean clothes after washing, laundry and dry. Household working at home. Laundry and maid concept.

Doing laundry is a notoriously unpopular household chore but can be turned into a good workout. "When you are folding clothes, for example, you could do push-ups or modified push-ups at an incline against the bed or a couch," Thomas tells the Washington Post.

Scrubbing the Floor

Smiling girl wash the floor with rag and detergent

Getting down on your hands and knees to scrub the floor is a great exercise. "Incorporating more squatting or lunging type movements into your cleaning, trying to stay moving the whole time, and making additional trips up and down the stairs," Physiotherapist Dr. Dave Candy tells Homeaglow. "Additionally, cleaning more often rather than waiting until the house gets messy can help increase the frequency of your "workouts" while also keeping your home looking tidier."

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Loading the Dishwasher

Portrait of beautiful African American woman wearing casual clothes loading dishwasher with dishes in kitchen at home. Housework concept

"Loading and unloading a dishwasher requires a full range of motion as you go from stooping over the dishwasher to reaching up to a shelf," Duston Morris, a professor of health promotion and health behavior at Maryland University of Integrative Health, tells the Washington Post: "If you're using house cleaning as a way to increase movement and physical activity, do 20 to 30 minutes each day."

Weeding the Plants

A young woman pulls weeds in her huge garden in the spring, clearing the garden after winter

Weeding plants and other forms of yard work can burn a lot of calories. "Even the less strenuous forms of garden upkeep – weeding, trimming, raking – can burn off about 300 calories an hour," says Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension. "Spading, lifting, tilling, and raking can improve muscle tone and strength."


Man as a professional cleaner in blue uniform washing floor with mopping stick and bucket in the living room of the apartment

Experts say mopping can be a mini-workout. "When you vacuum and mop, you're engaging your core muscles," Morris tells the Washington Post. "Sweep or mop some of your floors with your right hand on the top of the broom handle and your left hand on the lower portion of the broom handle. Then do the other half of your floors with your hands in the opposite position."

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Cleaning the Kitchen

beautiful adult woman with glasses in a yellow t-shirt does house cleaning

Cleaning the kitchen is a great way to burn calories, researchers say. "If you want to burn the most calories cleaning your house, the kitchen is your best bet," Homeaglow researchers say. "Our results show that the cleaners in our experiment averaged burning 276 calories per kitchen — which is equivalent to jogging for just under 40 mins straight."

Tidying Up

A tidy morning man making his bed in the morning at his cozy home.

Just tidying up, in general, burns calories—try squatting to pick things up for the extra exercise. "Don't be afraid to really scrub down those surfaces and tiles or run the vacuum around the house," fitness expert Joe Mitton tells Homeaglow. "When it comes to burning more calories, we need to think about the bigger muscle groups and more difficult household cleaning tasks. Rather than bending over to clean something, squat down and hold the squat."

Raking Leaves

Rake with fallen leaves in the park. Janitor cleans leaves in autumn. Volunteering, cleaning, and ecology concept.

Raking leaves can burn hundreds of calories. "Raking and disposing of leaves is more than a chore. It can be a very demanding exercise," says the University of Rochester Medical Center. "Although exercise is good for you, this workout can be full of repetitive motions… Don't bend at the waist to lift heavy items, such as leaves, bags, or equipment. Instead, bend at the knees and keep your back straight."

Using a Shovel

A mature man clean path near house from snow during strong blizzard. Person shoveling snow out of the driveway. Huge snowdrifts. Difficult situation in the city after a snow storm

Shoveling snow is a low-intensity exercise that burns plenty of calories. "Shoveling snow is such strenuous exercise that, according to Harvard Medical School, an 185-pound person can expect to burn about 266 calories after just a half hour of shoveling," says the CDC. "Because shoveling snow is a workout, it is important for people who have any medical concerns to talk to their physician before performing any strenuous exercise in the cold."

RELATED: 10-Minute Full Body Workout for Losing Weight

Make It Count

Happy couple, armed with cleaning equipment, bringing joy to the living room. Family showing fun teamwork and shared responsibility, where household chores become moments of connection.

"Make your household chores count by working at a pace fast enough to get your heart pumping," says the American Cancer Society. "A 150–pound person can burn about 150 calories an hour this way. Get the whole family involved to get the job done quicker and to help get everyone moving.

💪🔥Body Booster: Squatting instead of bending over to clean will help burn more calories.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more