Does living in a messy home drive you up the wall? New research shows UK is a nation of ‘clean-freaks’

22 May 2018

Posted in Product

  • Three out of five people believe living in a messy home can have a negative impact on their mental health;
  • 48% believe there is a social stigma around keeping homes tidy and worry about being judged;
  • Biggest causes of stress include toilets or showers not being clean (51%), dirty mugs and plates left around the house (50%) and not throwing rubbish away (43%)

Three out of five people claim living in a messy home has a negative impact on their mental health1, new research by AXA reveals.

In terms of the emotions experienced, half said it them feel ‘fed up’, while 35 per cent feel ‘shame’ and 32 per cent ‘out of control’. Fifty per cent also believe there is a social stigma around keeping homes tidy and that they are unfairly judged based on the cleanliness of their homes. However, it seems that most of us are contributing to this vicious cycle, as 45 per cent admit to judging the cleanliness of other people’s homes.

Considering this obsession with cleanliness, it’s understandable that a third (36 per cent) of the UK identifies as a ‘clean-freak’, constantly concerned over the cleanliness of their homes and the social repercussions that come with it. However, there  are some positives of having a tidy house, as 44 per cent said they feel ‘accomplished’ after tidying, while 37 per cent feel ‘relieved’ and 33 per cent ‘in control’.

When it comes to the biggest bug-bears, 51 per cent cannot stand unclean toilets and showers, while a further 50 per cent hate dirty mugs and plates left around the house. Coming in third is clutter caused by not throwing rubbish away (43 per cent), followed by food being left in the sink (43 per cent) and clothes being thrown on the floor (40 per cent).

One of the biggest issues when it comes to keeping a house tidy is space, as clutter can quickly build up, especially if you have young children. A quarter2 struggle to find space to store children’s toys, while 47 per cent find it hard to store basic necessities such as clothes. What’s worse, 38 per cent said having an untidy home causes arguments with people they live with.

So how do we eliminate clutter? One suggestion is that in the future, homes will become more ‘multi-purpose’, with rooms adapting to meet work, leisure and storage requirements. AXA has teamed up with expert interior designers from the Grand Room Sets feature at this year’s Grand Designs Live and asked them to create rooms that adapt to their own needs.

Discussing the issue of clutter and how its negative psychological effects, each designer has provided their advice for keeping both their homes in order:

  1. “When updating a room or property we advise to add in even more storage than you think you might need. It’s much nicer to have a shelf with few items on it or a half empty cupboard than having items bursting out of what storage is available and spaces which once looked sleek and elegant being untidy and cluttered.” — Simon Clark, Accanto Interiors
  1. “The kitchen can be a dumping ground as everyone congregates there or heads there first. So try and work that into your design with a junk drawer or post slots. Also, having a bit of detail on your flooring and worktops helps hide crumbs and marks compared to very plain flat surfaces!” — Helen Munro, Finch London
  1. “We always have a full house clean on a Friday evening or Saturday morning which includes hiding away all paperwork, nursery bags and work-related to do lists, that way we have an instantly relaxed space which is ready for the weekend and creating happy, family memories.” — Natalie Lockwood, Little Mill House
  1. “The tidiness of your home is also linked to the placement and layout of your furniture and objects. If you have overly cluttered shelves and floor space it can stress the mind and make it hard to switch off. Some people like this look so if so at least try and keep your bedroom a little less cluttered.” — Jade Maria Interior Design and Home

“These days most of us are juggling so many responsibilities – work, family, friends, relationships, children etc. – that tidying up can become a huge chore. This becomes an issue when our surroundings start to cause negative effects on our mental wellbeing, so understanding how homes can be improved to make our lives easier is essential. Having a multipurpose home doesn’t just mean we can do more with our time, it means we can spend it on the things that matter most.”

Gareth Howell, Managing Director AXA Insurance

For further advice on making the most out of your home, read AXA’s articles on Top Ten Tips for Improving Home Storage and Making the Most of Multipurpose Rooms.

UK's Top Ten Messes that Cause the Most Stress

Toilets and showers not cleaned

51 %

Dirty mugs and plates left around the house

50 %

Food in the kitchen sink

43 %

General clutter/not throwing rubbish away

43 %

Empty toilet rolls not replaced

40 %

Clothes thrown on the floor/not put in the washing basket

40 %

Washing up left on the side

39 %

Bins not being emptied

38 %

Hair in the bathroom sink

35 %

Carpets being dirty

34 %