Why a Mom of 3 Cleans Horrifying Homes Filled with Piles of Used Toilet Paper and Rotted Food — for Free (Exclusive)

Though she isn't a professional cleaner, Brogan feels called to help others and is spreading the word with her TikTok

<p><a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@nottheworstcleaner">Brogan/TikTok</a></p> Brogan prepares to clean homes (L), shares example of one of the spaces she cleans (R)


Brogan prepares to clean homes (L), shares example of one of the spaces she cleans (R)
  • Brogan is a wife and mom of three who pays it forward by providing free home cleaning to those in need

  • As @NotTheWorstCleaner on TikTok, Brogan shares cleaning tips and mental health support while documenting her free cleanings

  • Brogan hopes to continue opening people's eyes to the connections between cleaning and mental health

A woman fascinated by how mental health impacts our ability to care for our spaces took her interest to the next level.

Brogan, known as @NotTheWorstCleaner on TikTok, has a background in psychology and has long been interested in the connection between cleaning and mental health. And while she's not a professional cleaner, she's gotten her hands dirty for a good cause that makes a real impact on those she services.

"I'm actually not a cleaner by profession. I think this surprises a lot of people who haven’t been following my story for a long time. My background is actually in psychology and I have become enthralled in studying the correlation between mental health and cleaning," Brogan tells PEOPLE.

Brogan began talking about the subject in videos shared on TikTok three years ago. "My account grew rapidly to over 3 million followers in less than one year, which was amazing, but I felt like I wasn’t doing enough," she says.

As her following grew on CleanTok, so did the outpouring of people reaching out to Brogan with stories about how they were in over their heads.

"I was getting hundreds and hundreds of emails every week from people begging me for help, living in hoarder-like situations due to poor mental health," she shares. "I actually started fundraising to have companies go in and clean out these houses, but this was met with more rejections. Companies were deeming these cleans hazardous and in need of a toxic white suit clean up."

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Frustrated by the responses she was getting, Brogan "decided enough was enough."

"I decided I was going to start cleaning for free to help people who were seriously struggling. I started with a local mom in my area who had kids the same age as mine, and I spent 2, 12 hour days and 40 industrial-sized garbage bags cleaning out her home," Brogan says.

"Later that night, I was sent a video of her kids crying with joy over their clean home. That was the lightbulb moment for me, two days of my time changed the course of their life. I haven’t stopped doing Free Cleanings since. It’s been two years now!"

And while the idea was initially to help others struggling with their mental health, Brogan can't deny meeting these people and helping them through dire situations has also touched her deeply.

"A few people have really left an impression on me and will always have a piece of my heart," she shares.

"Honestly, the people that I have cleaned for have been some of the most kind-hearted, caring folk I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. At the same time, there have been cases that have left me heartbroken," she acknowledges.

"There were many instances where I questioned if I could continue with my free cleanings, but there were also the same instances that gave me the push to keep going because people needed this help," Brogan says.

"I have had to clear out multiple garbage bags worth of saved used toilet paper and sanitary products from a 90 year old woman’s bathroom. I have had to scrape out moldy 3+ year expired diabetic supplies from a fridge shelf for an 80-year-old diabetic gentleman who had 13 stents in his chest. I have had to clean animal dropping and catch rodents from homes with small children," she says. "So many people are struggling in silence because they are too embarrassed or prideful to ask for help."

"After everything I’ve seen in the last two years of doing these free cleanings, I wish everyone would check in on their family, friends and neighbors more often." 

Building a community on TikTok has helped Brogan reach others about both cleaning and mental health, the intersection of which matters most to her.

"My background in psychology is honestly the basis of my content. Technically, I am a cleaning content creator, but the core base of my message will always stem from mental health," she shares. "I do teach your regular cleaning tips, tricks and hacks, but I also share so much knowledge, techniques and methods for people struggling with their mental health as well as their relationship with cleaning."

For Brogan, building community on TikTok came at the time it did for so many others while under stay-at-home orders during the height of the pandemic.

"Being thrown out of my normal routine was extremely overwhelming for me as a mom of three. I have ADHD and was diagnosed at a very young age, so I have been able to build a very good routine to keep myself on track," Brogan says.

"However, being stuck at home all of the time really threw that off. I ended up creating a daily cleaning schedule as well as an eight-week deep clean to declutter my home. I decided to share these in a video on TikTok. It ended up being very relatable and resonated with many people because it instantly went viral," she recalls. "I just continued from there making videos about everything I knew about mental health and cleaning!"

What's more impressive is that Brogan balances all this emotional and physical work, plus her content creation, with being a wife and mom to three little boys.

"An average day in my life is basically all cleaning. I'm either cleaning my own house or someone else’s house," she shares, explaining her younger pair are "still home with me during the day."

"I spend my days trying to be present with them because they will both be in school with their older brother before I know it," she says. "When I can, of course, I mix in cooking, cleaning and work! When I’m not at a hockey practice with one of the boys, I spend my evenings doing consultations, having meetings, answering all emails, planning out cleanings and so much more."

Her free cleanings are reserved for "weekends and random weekdays," and are made possible by her husband Sam's help with managing things at home.

"He has always been so supportive of all of my crazy endeavors but most of all, my free cleanings," the proud mom and wife shares.

Brogan also involves her boys in the cleaning and talks on her page about helping kids develop healthy relationships with chores.

"The biggest thing we can do as parents for our children is frame that mindset of cleaning as a form of self-care, let them know that this is something they will have to do for the rest of their lives to take care of their environment and belongings which will, in turn, take care of their mental health," she shares.

"Teach them step-by-step how to clean, how and where to organize their clothing and toys — these things will obviously change based on age group, but the base idea is the same. I always recommend with younger children that parents pay special attention to verbalizing how it feels to clean. Some things I use with my own kids are 'Doesn't it feel so good to have everything in its own spot?' Having them be mindful of the good feelings that come from cleaning our spaces just reinforces a positive relationship with cleaning."

After encountering her fair share of adults who struggle with cleaning also, Brogan says that she hopes to help people understand that "their self-worth is never dependent on the cleanliness of their home."

"Just be easy with yourself and give yourself some grace. There are so many people out there struggling with the exact same thing," she notes. "It’s a taboo subject, so it’s not spoken about a lot, but just know you’re not alone."

Brogan also wants people to understand that aiming for progress over perfection is okay.

"You need to be okay with starting small and working in baby steps. It’s about implementing small easy strategies that will turn into habits over time," she explains. "If you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, pick one corner of the room and set a five-minute timer."

Brogan makes time to fill her own cup after countless hours of her day are spent nurturing others.

"I’m very mindful when it comes to making sure I’m taking time for myself and the things that make me happy," she says. "I find spending intentional time and being super present in those moments is key. Little things like spending time with my family, taking a break from screens and doing the things that I love definitely keep me grounded."

For someone whose driving goal has always been to help others, going viral and building such a following has been "so surreal" for Brogan.

"Being able to help people on such a large scale is a feeling I will never be able to explain," she says. "I'm excited for the future and everything that comes with it."

People can support Brogan's continued work helping others by "spreading the word," she says, adding, "The more people that interact with my content and share it, the more people will see it and this will allow me to help more people!"

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