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The psychology of clean windows

December 21, 2016

If you were given the choice to have nice, clean windows, chances are, you’d probably take it. But the importance of spotless windows goes far deeper than mere physical appearance.

Social scientists, James Wilson and George Kelling, presented their “Broken Windows” theory in 1982, claiming that the appearance of a neighbourhood was directly linked to the occurrence of criminal activity. In other words, clean and intact windows = less chance of vandalism; dirty and broken windows = more. We suppose it belongs to the school of ‘if it aint broke don’t break it’ kind of thing.

Other researchers have since tested this idea, and it would appear that there is, indeed, something to Wilson and Kelling’s theory. And we’d like to take this one step further; not only do clean windows help prevent crime, they actively make a building more inviting, too.

Windows help to regulate our comfort levels whilst inside a building – keeping the harsh weather at bay while still allowing light and air to get through. It’s only right, therefore, that they should look as comforting as they act.

But it’s not just comfort that a clean window can provide. As Darren Best, of commercial property agents, Savoy Stewart, tells us: “Most modern commercial builds have long wide windows giving you a landscape view and let in a lot more light, and a cleaner window will obvious let more in than a dirty window. A bright office filled with natural light trumps one which uses all artificial light, and research has found benefits between daylight exposure and quality of wellbeing, and productivity.

“In terms of cleanliness, a dirty window is not pleasing on the eyes – it makes the office space look unattractive, dirty and cluttered, which again can impact on productivity. A dirty office also gives off an impression that the company does not care about its image, which might make employees care less about their work, and put off potential clients.”


Who would have thought that having clean windows can have such a profound effect on mental wellbeing? With eyes being the window to the soul, we suppose it’s only fair that windows can be the eye to the soul, too.


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