Spritzed with Windex

In two separate experiments, researchers were able to influence participants' behavior by exposing them to "cleanliness" in the form of a common cleaning agent's odor — in this case, citrus-scented Windex. It turned out that people who sat in a room spritzed with Windex were more likely to act fairly and charitably than those sniffing unscented air.

— From Do 'Clean' Smells Encourage Clean Behavior? at Time, where you'll also find a series of short articles about fragrance, The World of Smell.

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30 Comments

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  1. boojum says:

    Think I’ll start cleaning my desk and computer daily…then maybe I’ll get credit for what I do and see a bigger bonus at the end of the year. :D If only it were that easy.

    • Robin says:

      Yeah. Don’t think it would work for me either.

  2. Daisy says:

    hmmm, I may have to track that study down and read more….how large is the sample population? what other variables may have been involved? It’s not that I would disregard the effect of air quality or scent on emotional response or subsequent behaviors, but an enclosed space anywhere is rarely “unscented” —there is always smell….who knows, maybe before the citrus windex the room smelled musty and stale (which would put me in a crabby mood for sure)
    okay, before I get all fired up about research technique I’d better go read the article….

    • Robin says:

      These sorts of studies almost never use large samples, and they’re rarely designed to my satisfaction.

  3. Lulubear says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. I find the smell of a place is the first thing I notice, well, it kind of stands to reason, since I have no sight, so my other senses kind of have to work slightly harder for me to check a new place out. I always would have more confidence in a place that smelled clean, where I could smell polish, or cleanser, or flowers even. I’d be in a better mood in such a place, thus be more likely to behave better. When I was working at a job which, on some days, could be sticky in the extreme, I used to have a little Electric Aromizer on my desk, you put a drop of water and aromatherapy oil on it, and it softly scented the room. I always found my mood lifted when I used it, and thus I could deal with the jerkiest of difficult callers. If I didn’t have it… Well, we won’t go there! Grin! I always love coming home for the same reason. I’m not one who has loads of oil burners, incense and pot pouri everywhere, though now I come to think, I do have two bowls, but my apartment does always smell of fresh coffee, and just the faintest memory of whatever I cooked last night, usually something Cajun. Makes me feel better just to smell it. If I ever had my own shop, or office, I’d have to hire someone to do the Décor, but I’d choose how the place smells, that’s for sure. Maybe citrus scented Windex wouldn’t be my choice, but orange blossom? Now you might be talking!

    • boojum says:

      If it isn’t prying too much… how are you reading here? My own vision is terrible, though thankfully still correctable, but it’s something I think about from time to time.

      • Lulubear says:

        Hi! I have a normal computer, running XP, and a very abnormal, and very, oops, nearly said a naughty word, expensive piece of software called Jaws. This takes the text off the screen, turns it into speech and reads it to me. Ok, the voices can be synthetic, although the one I use is called a Realspeak voice, and is quite good, but this software enables me to do most things with a computer that a sighted person can. In fact, I’m struggling right now to think of something I can’t. Oh ok, power point, and lots of graphics, and facebook apps like Farmvile and Fairyland, and… yikes! stop! I’m depressing myself! Lol! and sorry for going off topic. But I was only answering a question. Have a great Sunday!

        Lulu.

        • boojum says:

          Thanks so much for taking the time to answer. I’m very nearsighted, and in my late 20s had something wrong with my eyes that made the doctor think I might have glaucoma. It turned out to be a false alarm, but it did make me start to think about what I’d do for work and so on.

          • Lulubear says:

            Hey no problem! If you should ever need magnification software for your screen, I do know it’s out there. You can, if you ever feel so inclined, google Zoomtext and Supernova magnification. Hope you’re having a good day!

            Lulu.

        • RossM says:

          Hi Lulu, thanks for sharing your story! And how cool is that software?I wonder how my text would translate in voice form? I’d choose a Sean Connery type voice for me, that would be so cool. LOL
          But I’m guessing it’s the one voice for all text?
          Anyway, thanks again for your post – it’s fascinating reading and learning about other people in the world through these blogs and online forums.

  4. Dolly says:

    Wait a minute! Fairly and charitably- that’s something I don’t see a lot of these days. What ARE they putting in that stuff?

  5. lovethescents says:

    I’m sure the entire cast of My Big Fat Greek Wedding would agree ;-)

    • ggperfume says:

      So true! I’d forgotten that bit!

    • Daisy says:

      yeah, I’m thinking some difficult people need to have the windex sprayed right on them…some will need the big industrial size bottle.

      • RossM says:

        Daisy I have a co-worker who thinks it’s the height of comedy to spray everyone she works with with windex and/or liquid sanitizer during our nightly clean.
        As annoying as it is, there’s this great citrus scented one that I think would actually work really well for me in summer…LOL

        • Daisy says:

          That would be annoying! But on the other hand you’d be all fresh citrusy smelling and sanitized too! ;-)

        • boojum says:

          Ugh, I would LOVE to spray disinfectant at certain of my coworkers… like the one who CLEARLY had the flu, and quite probably the H1N1 flu, and came to work after being home for only 2 days. I don’t WANT to share my air with you, thank you…but in a cube farm, you have no choice.

          • Daisy says:

            OH GAG! why do people do that!!

            In J’s history class a guy came in and sat right next to her when there were plenty of open seats and proceeded to cough like he was about to lose a lung. She got up and moved across the room…..he gave her dirty looks and I told her that he’s clearly a creep so don’t worry about it.

  6. Marsha says:

    Anecdotally speaking, I can say there is merit in this. I’m a bit anal about cleaning my cubicle. So Friday morning is the time I clean the keyboard, the computer, all of the surfaces, and the Star Trek tchotkes I decorate with. Heck, I just replaced my rug and mopped. (I prefer Fantastik and Pin Sol myself). And my boss and HER boss have noticed and commented very positively.

    Will it pay off come raise/bonus time? I don’t know, but it can’t hurt.

    • Lulubear says:

      I don’t blame you! I used to work in a broiling call centre, I didn’t have a switchboard, just a phone, wel, sort of enlarged phone thing, with a handset. I used to put a cleaner called Sparkle on it and rub it up every day before I started work. I hated the nasty musty smell of it when it wasn’t regularly cleaned, and someone had been breathign down it for hours on end! Lol!

      • Marsha says:

        It’s pretty comfortable in my cubbie, but I work above a warehouse, and I get a fair amount of dust drifting over the place. Plus dirt from the bins I process, and the smell of a constantly operating laminator. Thank heavens I don’t have to share any of my stuff. Ughhh.

        But I do have the lovely smell of oodles of new books. So I don’t want too much cleanser smell. Ink and paper can be pretty nice.

  7. AmandaJayne says:

    I hope you don’t mind me asking for your help… I am looking for a STRONG and LASTING (key words) MUSC perfume. Please let me know your thoughts on all the musc perfumes out there. I love having the scent on me all day long without evaporating. I really appreciate this guys. (Sorry to change the subject for a minute) Figured MUSC is nicer than Windex anyway..
    Thanks a million
    Amanda

    • Daisy says:

      Hi AJ, I’m not the best to answer this question as I’m not well versed in musks at all and mostly like cleaned up musk. My favorite is Serge Lutens Clair de Musc but I suspect it is not what you are looking for .
      I’ve heard mention of Borneo . FM Musc Ravageur, Narcisco Rodriguez Musc for him (or her), SL Fourreau Noir, SL MKK which isn’t all that skanky on some, Montale Musk to Musk —egad there’s a million of them but this is what I’d suggest to anyone exploring musk scents…..go to theperfumedcourt dot com and on the left there’s an option to search by note…then animalic notes…then musk…… ok, I know there’s like 250 options but buried along the way there are SAMPLER PACKS (yay!!) on page 14 of the musk perfumes there are 2 sample packs in particular that looked good to me.
      Other from that I can’t be of much help. Good luck :-)

    • Daisy says:

      I also have heard of Kiehl’s Original Musk oil and CBiHP Musk Reinvention(which is said to be very naughty) and Reminiscence Musc.

  8. AmandaJayne says:

    Thanks so much Daisy…….I’ll have a look.

  9. bergere says:

    Seems to be the olfactory equivalent of the “broken window” theory of crime–that people read signs into how a place is kept up (or not), and make judgments about the folks who live or work there. Do people really adjust their behavior downward, though, based only on environment?

    • Robin says:

      Yes, that’s what the article starts out with…the broken windows theory.

  10. BuffyDaLipGlossEater says:

    …That’s when I would start sneezing on the experimenters. ‘Nuff said.

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