I know people who enjoy it so much they clean other people’s houses whenever they get the chance – and for nothing! But let’s not go there.
Several years ago a University of Michigan study found that a better predictor than SAT scores of how well children would do in later life was the level of cleanliness in their homes.
Children raised in clean homes were found to have completed more school and have higher earnings potential than children raised in dirty homes.
Why should that be? The researchers think that clean homes may indicate that the families with clean homes value organisation and orderliness, skills which are useful at school and at work.
The research covered a 25-year period. At the beginning 5,000 homes were assessed for their level of cleanliness – from “dirty” through “not very clean”, “clean”, and “very clean” – and after 25 years they checked the educational attainments and earning power of the young people who had grown up there.
The study took into account things like race, socio-economic status, and parental education (which some studies have shown to be important).
Allowing for those variables they found that children brought up in the clean categories of homes completed almost 2 extra years of school than children brought up the dirty categories and they earned over $3,000 more.
The researchers stressed that this is not just about cleanliness, or intelligence for that matter, but the fact that being organised and efficient pays off in academic and financial success.
This study was about the cleanliness of homes , not personal cleanliness. And that’s a different story because whether or not you are concerned about keeping yourself clean may be down to your genes.
Researchers at the University of Utah found a specific gene, called HoXb8, which is linked to washing and grooming.
Tests on the gene suggest that the presence of this gene can lead to compulsive cleaning, which taken to extremes can be self-harmful, and which the researchers believe is the key to obsessive cleanliness.
Not only can it lead to obsessive hand waging but a mutation of it might be responsible for the compulsion to tear out your hair – tricotillomania – which is found in both humans and animals.