WOULD you go online to watch someone bleaching their toilet or scrubbing grease from their cooker?

It seems thousands of people are doing just that, and apparently this fast-growing micro-trend can have a “profoundly therapeutic effect” on followers.

Welcome to the world of the ‘cleaning influencer’. I didn’t know there was such a thing either, but if you’re not yet familiar with the name Mrs Hinch, you soon may be. The Instagram star, real name Sophie Hinchliffe, has more than a million followers and says she “wants to make chores fun”. Her fans, who call themselves ‘Hinch Army’, log on in droves to watch her clean her Essex home.

For many, it’s a service that goes beyond tips for wiping smears from mirrors or removing stubborn mug rings from coffee tables. Watching other people cleaning can, it seems, be a type of digital therapy. Who knew?

“I suffer with panic attacks and the only thing that helps me through a bad bout of anxiety is ‘hinching’,” commented one user. “I’m 19 and have social anxiety, some days I struggle to get out of bed,” said another. “But then I watch your story and it makes me want to get up and do something.”

So why does watching a woman clean her home have such a soothing effect? It is, I’m told, to do with autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), causing “a pleasurable sensation in the body when people hear certain sounds or watch certain activities”. Although it’s not a form of mental health treatment, experts say ASMR is similar to mindfulness; focussing on the present. Cleaning, with its slow, gentle motions, is one of the ways ‘ASMRtists’ are booming on YouTube.

My first thought was: “People have too much time on their hands. If you have anxiety, step away from YouTube and go for a walk.”

Then I thought maybe there’s something in it. While I’d struggle to keep a straight face watching Mrs Hinch showing off her immaculate home, I do think a clean, tidy living space can benefit the mind. A recent study looking at how 60 women discussed their homes found those using words like “cluttered” or “unfinished projects” were more likely to be depressed and fatigued.

My never-ending list of “unfinished projects” stresses me out, and I try to keep a tidy home because I don’t function well in clutter. But then I feel guilty for wasting precious free time on dull house chores.

How I wish I could be more like my mother, who would’ve regarded Mrs Hinch with the same disdain she had for housework. Our house was messy but ‘lived-in’, and loved by everyone who visited it. Mum said life was too short for housework, and filled her time with countless other activities instead.

Since dementia had robbed her of any quality of life by the time she was 60, I guess she was right.

* THERE has been a bit of fuss over the face of the new £50 note. Professor Stephen Hawking, Alan Turing, Magnus Pike and Margaret Thatcher are all in the running, and the public has until December 14 to submit suggestions for a late, eminent British scientist.

I doubt most folk will care whose face is on a £50 note because who actually uses them? The only time I did was working in a language school on the south coast one summer. I got £150 a week - paid in three £50 notes. For a bunch of skint students it was a king’s ransom, but heading out on a Friday night, newly-paid, we soon learned it’s not easy to disperse of a crisp £50 note buying a round of beers in the local pub...