SOURCE: The Clorox Company

The Clorox Company

March 07, 2011 08:06 ET

New Study Shows a Clean Smelling House Makes the Grade

Teens Who Associate Positive Smells With Their Childhood Home Do Better in School

OAKLAND, CA--(Marketwire - March 7, 2011) - Laptop computers and language immersions classes may be fashionable things parents buy to prepare their kids for success in the classroom. However, moms and dads who want their kids to earn high marks may want to save a few bucks and start with a mop, a bucket and bottle of Pine-Sol cleaner.

A new study shows that children who perform better at school almost always identify their homes with scents associated with clean.

The study of nearly 5,000 high school students, conducted by Dr. Alan Hirsh and the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, found top performing students (those with grade averages of A and B) overwhelmingly -- 84 percent -- used words like "lemony, minty or clean" to describe the smell of their childhood homes. More than one-third (34 percent) of lower performing students (average of C or below) associated negative smells -- of urine, fecal matter or mold -- with their homes.

While the study focused on scent, Dr. Hirsch said it's unlikely there is something within those specific odors that causes academic success. Dr. Hirsh said a more likely explanation is that there is a positive connection between a well-cared for home and the sort of stable family environment that promotes academic success.

"What this study tells me is that there is a strong correlation between the memory of a clean-smelling home and academic success," said Dr. Hirsh. "If you are in a home that has clean, pleasant aromas, it will promote success by enhancing harmony in the household, which then furthers a nurturing environment for the child. It's a powerful example of the role parents play in creating the sort of environments kids need to thrive."

The Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation took on the study, which was funded by the Pine-Sol cleaning brand, in order to gain a better understanding of the ways the memory of scents impacts the lives of kids. The study helped show that a correlation between memory of positive scents and performance not only begins at an early age, but is also something that parents can impact.

"A clean smelling home is just one component to the overall picture of how parents can provide a healthy and stimulating family environment, and help their children improve self-esteem and have a more positive learning experience," comments Charmaine Hussein, marketing manager for Pine-Sol at The Clorox Company. "We are excited by this research, as it really shows that there is a higher order need for cleaning. It's not just about a clean house -- it's about the powerful difference parents can make in the lives of their children."

Donation Drive for Reading Is Fundamental
Pine-Sol is making a commitment to reading as another way to help children achieve by donating $40,000, in 2011, to Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and its efforts to enable children to develop and do well in school, through distributing free books and literacy resources to children and families who need them most. Consumers can provide their children and others with opportunities for achievement by joining Pine-Sol on Facebook. For every two people that 'Like' Pine-Sol, Pine Sol will donate one book, up to 5,000 books. With these funds and consumer action, RIF can distribute a total of 25,000 new books to children.

Experts have identified simple things parents can do at home to help their children succeed(1). From helping with homework, establishing a daily routine, discussing school, demonstrating the value of learning, self-discipline, and hard work to reading bedtime stories -- home is where it begins.

"When we've talked to successful people about their childhoods, we often have heard them describe their childhood homes in terms of smell -- it's a memory cue," said Dr. Hirsch. "We wanted to see how early that association begins and whether we'd see a correlation with performance as early as high school."

For more information on RIF, visit For more information on Pine-Sol's campaign and to join the donation effort, visit  


Key Study Statistics

  • Study Sample: Researchers spoke with 4,923 teenagers aged 14-18 questioning them on the aroma of their childhood home, specific aromas and their GPA.
    • "Four thousand nine hundred and twenty-three high school students, 62% (3,052) female, 38% (1,871) male, average age 16.2 (range 14-18) were queried regarding the aroma of their childhood home (hedonically positive or negative) and specific aromas and their GPA."
  • GPA Breakdown: 31% reported GPA of A (1,282), 69% reported a B (2,853) and 16% reported a C (788); margin of error recorded at 5%.
    • "Eighty-four percent (4,135) reported a GPA of A or B. Of these, 31% (1,282) reported a GPA of A and 69% (2,853) reported a GPA of B. Sixteen percent (788) reported a GPA of C or less."
  • Positive/Negative Smells Recorded: Overall (full sample) - 81% (3,988) reported positive hedonics. 19% (935) reported neutral or negative hedonics. 
    • Higher grades: Of those with a grade of A or B:
      • Positive:  84% (3,465) were positive hedonics.
      • Negative: 16% (670) were negative hedonics. 
    • Lower grades: Amongst those with a GPA of C or less,
      • Positive: 66% (523) were hedonically positive.
      • Negative: 34% (265) were hedonically negative (p=0.05). 
    • Positive Smells: The most reminiscent smells were lemon (16%), mint (12%), clean (12%), baby powder (11%), baked goods (10%), crayons (9%), detergent (8%) and plastic (7%).
    • Negative Smells: The most reminiscent smells were urine (17%), fecal (14%), mold (13%), stale (9%), blood (9%), animal hair (8%), grease (7%), and ammonia (6%).
    • "Eighty-four percent (4135) reported a GPA of A or B. Of these, 31% (1282) reported a GPA of A and 69% (2853) reported a GPA of B. Sixteen percent (788) reported a GPA of C or less. Grade A were 1282 (26%); grade B were 2853 (58%); grade C or less were 788 (16%). Of those with a grade of A or B, 84% (3465) were positive hedonics, 16% (670) were negative hedonics. Amongst those with a GPA of C or less, 66% (523) were hedonically positive, whereas 34% (265) were hedonically negative (p=0.05)."
  • Age Breakdown: 62% (3,052) of the sample were female, 38% (1,871) were male.

About The Clorox Company

The Clorox Company is a leading manufacturer and marketer of consumer products with 8,300 employees and fiscal year 2010 revenues of $5.53 billion. Clorox markets some of consumers' most trusted and recognized brand names, including its namesake bleach and cleaning products, Green Works ® natural home care products, Pine-Sol ® cleaners, Poett ® home care products, Fresh Step ® cat litter, Kingsford ® charcoal, Hidden Valley ® and K C Masterpiece ® dressings and sauces, Brita ® water-filtration products, Glad ® bags and wraps and containers, and Burt's Bees ® natural personal care products. The company's products are manufactured in more than two dozen countries and sold in more than 100 countries. Clorox is committed to making a positive difference in the communities where its employees work and live. Founded in 1980, The Clorox Company Foundation has awarded cash grants totaling more than $80 million to nonprofit organizations, schools and colleges. In fiscal 2010 alone, the foundation awarded $3.5 million in cash grants, and Clorox made product donations valued at $8.8 million. For more information about Clorox, visit

1 Henderson, Anne T. and Nancy Berla. A New Generation of Evidence: The Family is Critical to Student Achievement. National Committee for Citizens in Education (1994).

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