It's like archeology, but on a much smaller scale. You sift through huge piles of junk, carefully searching for any trinkets of possible value. You excavate huge piles of old papers, and the text transports you back to a bygone era in your life. Every piece of paper - whether it's a thank you note or an analysis of Hamlet - has memories embedded in the page. Every trinket has a story. The calculator watch you wore in middle school is hiding somewhere on your cluttered desk, as is the bottle of bubbles you won at your library's trivia night. A good bit of your past is buried in your messy room; cleaning rooms becomes a way to connect to times gone by.
Most of the items recovered while cleaning ultimately wind up in a recycle bin or trash can. If you do find any pieces of ancient pottery, however, be careful not to chip them.