Neat Freaks Might Just Be Superior Humans, According to Science

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Samara Vise)

Do you have cleaning wipes at the ready at all times? Does sweeping make you feel Zen? Have you been taking flak from your friends for years for being a quote-unquote neat freak? Well then do we have some good news for you. People who like to clean are supposedly happier, according to research recently conducted by The Clorox Company (who, of course, it deserves to be noted might have a vested interest). However the online survey of just over 2,000 adults showed that the more people clean, the happier they apparently are.

To tap into the effect of cleaning and cleanliness on the psyche, researchers used modern biometric technology and analysis to gauge how clean and dirty rooms affected psychological responses. They then noted how that translates into our emotions. The result? Not only do clean houses make people feel more content, but the people cleaning them are pretty stellar human beings.

The Far-Reaching Benefits of Cleaning

“Findings from a nationwide survey and statistical modeling show that a person’s level of empathy is positively associated with living in a clean home and even more so if they are responsible for some aspect of the cleaning,” says the Clorox study. “Not only does a clean environment increase a person’s empathy, but there is also a drastic increase in connections and willingness to help others in their communities, proving the simple act of cleaning has beneficial implications far beyond just making our homes less dirty.”

If statistics are your love language, prepare to swoon. The likelihood a person will be happier than average spikes 53 percent with every additional hour they clean each week. Being responsible for cleaning leads to a 3 percent increase in social capital (aka meaningful connections and the willingness to help those in your community) and a 12 percent increase in empathy.

And if you’re a parent, it pays to pass on your cleanliness to kids at an early age. Children who complete cleaning chores are 64 percent more likely to exhibit higher empathy as adults and 60 percent more likely to help others in their community. Bonus? Kids study better (59 percent) and behave better (49 percent) in a clean room.

But hey, not everyone loves to go crazy on a Saturday afternoon with a sponge and some Scrubbing Bubbles. If you’re not a neat freak but you live with one, give them a hug — they contribute to happiness in more ways than you realized.

The study reveals that simply by being in a clean space, 80 percent of people are more relaxed; 60 percent are less stressed; and 72 percent are more productive. Additionally, 72 percent of people sleep better in a clean home and 77 percent can focus better.

So treat yo’ cleanly self — grab that Swiffer and go to town.