“Baby boomers are way dirtier than Millennials.” That’s the title of an article we came across in moneyish.com. But is it true? As Catey Hill writes, “Millennials are obsessed with cleaning.” And there’s a survey to back that up.
You won’t be able to scrub this from your memory: more than three in four millennials (77%) say that they thoroughly clean their homes at least once a week, according to a survey of more than 2,100 adults out this week from cleaning service Merry Maids. That’s compared to just 42% of Boomers who say the same.
How often do you thoroughly clean your house?
This may come down to millennial anxiety, says Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author, and the co-star of “Sex Box” on WE TV. “Millennials are functioning under a much higher level of anxiety than baby boomers did,” she says, adding that often anxiety gets channeled into trying to “control the environment” which can literally mean “taking hold of it and cleaning it.” In other words, Millennials are cleaning to try to calm their anxiety.
She has a point: Anxiety levels among young people are at an 80-year-high. And the problem is so bad for some millennials that they’re literally going bald from too much stress.
Part of their anxiety may be because they worry about being judged by others. Most millennials (85%) say they have at least someone in their lives who would judge them for having a messy home; fewer than six in 10 boomers say the same. And, as clinical psychologist Christina Barber-Addis notes, millennials spend a lot of time on social media, which “constantly brings their outward appearance of success and status to the forefront. This would include cleanliness as another way of trying to appear to be doing well and ‘put together’ so to speak.”
Another reason for millennials’ obsession with cleanliness may be that they want “to be doing better in life than our parents”— and that applies to how clean their homes are too, says Barber-Addis. And indeed, more than seven in 10 millennials say that their current homes are cleaner than the ones they grew up in, versus about one in three boomers who say the same.
While it’s nice, of course, to have a clean house, sometimes millennials go overboard. “Some of them try to supremely organize their environment, bordering on OCD” (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), says Walfish — who notes that this can cause relationship issues when someone begins trying to control his or her family’s behavior too.
Cleaning can cause shady behavior in a relationship — even if it’s not obsessive. Four in 10 millennials admit to resorting to duplicity to get out of cleaning, saying they purposefully do a bad job when cleaning so they won’t have to do it in the future. That’s compared to just 5% of boomers, the Merry Maids survey found.
Whatever the reasons, a desire for increased cleanliness can have financial implications. Gallup data from last year reveals that as the economy has improved, one in four millennials begins to spend more on household goods like cleaning supplies.