‘Cleanfluencers’ Take Over Instagram, The World

Josh West - Author
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Jul. 12 2019, Updated 11:28 a.m. ET

Marie Kondo is living proof that keeping things neat and tidy can lead to not just a happy home, but also legions of social media followers and a Netflix series to boot. The Guardian reports that so-called “cleanfluencers” are taking the internet by storm, with the most notable personalities racking up millions of followers.

Kondo, the Japanese organization guru who rose to prominence with her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has since become an icon in her own right, paving the way for legions of would-be experts to follow in her footsteps to social media fame and fortune.

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Hashtags like #cleaningobsessed or #cleaningtime are a window into a whole world of organizational expertise and affirmation, where self-appointed cleaning experts share not only their tidying techniques, but their personal lives as well.

Sophie Hinchcliffe, known as Mrs. Hinch online, is among the most prominent in the category of cleaning enthusiasts not named Kondo. Hinchcliffe has 1.7 million followers on Instagram, where she shares myriad photos of her spotless home and talking her way through cleaning tasks that a previous generation might have dared consider mundane. She has developed a robust vocabulary all of her own, sprinkling verbs like “hinching” into videos directed to the #HinchArmy.

As is true on the cusp of any new social media scene, experts are weighing in on the social dynamics that have laid the groundwork for personalities like Kondo and Hinchcliffe to find and capitalize on this niche.

Kate Joynes-Burgess is the managing director of a public relations agency that works with digital influencers.

“The world of mega lifestyle influencers has been criticised as being on the cusp of an ‘authenticity crisis’ and potentially reaching a saturation point,” Joynes-Burgess says. “This has seemingly made way for more niche-focused influencers and conversations to blossom.”

Dr Stephanie Baker, a sociology lecturer at the University of London, suggests that the trend is really just a new spin on an old standby, pointing out that as a society we have been obsessed with “domestic goddesses” for centuries. Online influencers, even “cleanflencers,” are simply the latest evolution of that movement, she says.

In a perhaps darker take, Baker also points out the tendency for people to create cleanliness and order when the world fees chaotic, perhaps as manifested in a world with headlines dominated by political turmoil in the United States and elsewhere.

“The preoccupation with order and self-management flourishes during uncertain times as a self-improvement strategy,” Baker says.

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