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Scientists have finally found something that can get you in a cleaning mood—and it's right under your nose.

MaryAnn Barone
October 15, 2014

We've all gotten behind on cleaning our homes from time to time. We know we should do it, but convincing ourselves (and finding the time) can be hard. But scientists have finally found something that can get you in the mood—and it's right under your nose.

In a new book called Happiness by Design ($11, amazon.com), author Paul Dolan cites a study (cheekily titled "Smells Like Clean Spirit") that found people were more likely to clean when they smelled a fresh citrusy scent than when they didn't smell anything. What's more, people were unaware of the affect that the scent had on them, meaning the smell of cleanliness can subconsciously make you want to spruce up your house.

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“The brain looks to make associations to assist in decision-making....so the smell of cleanliness primes the desire to be clean," Dolan, a behavioral scientist when he's not writing books, told New York magazine's Science of Us Blog.

Another wild way citrus messes with your mind: It could make you nicer. According to another Psychological Science study (with a similarly fun title: "The Smell of Virtue"), researchers found that people exposed to a citrus-scented space acted more charitable and more virtuous to others than people in an unscented room.

So the next time you need to convince yourself to finally take care of the bathroom or kitchen, peel an orange to get in the mood to scrub. Or try a citrus-scented diffuser for all-the-time inspiration. A clean house really can get you a clean conscience.

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