Surveys show that getting a clean car is the secret to happiness.

Surveys show that getting a clean car is the secret to happiness.

Chalk this up in the category of things we already knew and now research is proving us correct. A new survey out this week shows that people are happier when their cars are clean.

That’s according to IMO Car Wash in the UK, which announced that 74 percent of all drivers and 80 percent of young drivers feel more happy when they’ve got a clean car.

Wealth, by the way, has nothing to do with it. Rich people, according to the survey, are more likely to have dirty cars.

“Our cars are very personal spaces,” psychologist Sandra Wheatley told BT. “The make or model we choose to drive is generally accepted to imply our personality and vocation. The value of them is very often assumed to reflect our status in society. By having a clean car, are we telling the world how conscientious and/or reliable we are — a clean car reflecting a well-ordered mind?”

She added: “Younger drivers, or those without financial security, may want to use every tool available to tell the world that they are worthwhile and worth getting to know. It follows that those financially comfortable, including retired drivers, don’t feel the need to wash and polish their cars in order to feel proud.”

But there may be something in the act of cleaning in general that makes humans happier. Last year a study from the University of Cologne showed that people who washed their hands after failing a task were more optimistic that they would succeed the next time.

We think car wash businesses should take advantage of this science in their promotions. Instead of selling clean cars, perhaps owners could focus on what they’re really selling… happiness.