Clean (verb) to remove dirt from something
Tidy (verb) to make a place or a collection of things tidy
Source: Cambridge Dictionary
As a nation, we're rather partial to a clean and tidy home. No less than 47% of people spend more than five hours a week on domestic cleaning tasks. That equates to two years of our lives.
Whether you're a cleaner or a tidier you're in good company. In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, Gwyneth Paltrow said she can't sleep if there are dirty dishes in the sink - "I cannot function if there is a physical mess around me," - and Taylor Swift told Celebrity Close Up that she's "sort of a neat freak" who needs "everything to be neat and put away and organised." Gwyneth and Taylor aren't alone. Research suggests that women who feel their home is chaotic or messy have higher stress levels, whereas people with clean homes tend to be generally healthier.
In reality, most people probably do elements of both - after all, it's certainly easier to clean if your house is tidy - but as to whether you're officially a 'cleaner' or 'tidier' probably comes down to which one (to borrow a phrase from organising consultant and best-selling author Marie Kondo) brings you joy.
If you prefer to clean as you go and not leave things for later, it may be that you're a 'cleaner'. There are certainly benefits to belonging to this category. A study found 'super clean' people to be twice as happy with their lives as those who regarded themselves as 'messy'. This happiness extended to the bedroom with 75% claiming to be happier with their love life and relationships than those who don't regularly clean.
These days, you can even get your cleaning fix online with the rise of 'cleanfluencers' - social media stars who post videos of themselves cleaning their homes. Although still a relatively new phenomenon, cleanfluencer videos attract millions of views and can lead to fame and fortune, such as Megan Hickman, who bought a 4,500-square-foot house in Georgia, USA, with the income generated from her YouTube channel, Love Meg.
Tidy people value the art of tidying and are happy to spend time doing it as they regard it as valuable work. One of the benefits of being tidy was underlined by the National Sleep Foundation who found that people who make their beds each morning are 19% more likely to enjoy a good night's sleep.
Of course, no discussion of tidiness is complete without mentioning Marie Kondo, whose book 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' topped the New York Times bestseller list in 2014. Marie's advice - to ask yourself if an item gives you joy - has inspired many to downsize their belongings by getting rid of items that don't inspire a positive emotion. Another bonus, of course, is that the fewer items you have, the less you have to clean!
At the end of the day, simply completing any task can be psychologically rewarding. So whether you're a cleaner or tidier, carry on doing what brings you joy.