It turns out the lemon-scented cleaner is also useful in promoting selfless behavior and altruistic choices.
A study led by a BYU professor found that people who were asked to divide money or volunteer for charitable organizations were significantly more giving in a room recently spritzed with lemon-scented Windex than in a nonscented room.
But why lemon?
Previous research suggests that citrus smells are most commonly associated with cleanliness, said lead author Katie Liljenquist, an assistant professor in BYU's Marriott School of Management.
"It's something that's pretty universal," Liljenquist said. "We just wanted something that was very prototypical. We didn't want it to be too obtrusive."
So after two sprays of Windex into a room, participants were invited in and given $12. They were told it was the return on a $4 investment from an anonymous "partner" in another room.
The participants then had to decide if they would split the $12 with the investor or keep it all for themselves.
The people in lemon-scented room were much more fair and generous in returning money to their partners, Liljenquist explained, giving back an average just more than $5.
But in the room without a lingering lemon smell, the participants sent back an average of $2.81.