While Americans’ lives may seem busier than ever before, they continue to carve out time for housecleaning according to new research from Mintel. In describing their overall approach to housecleaning, 42 percent of Americans prefer to clean as they go, doing quick cleanups that fit into their schedules, versus setting aside time to give the whole house a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning (32 Percent). While consumers value convenience and ease in housecleaning, most are not interested in compromising on effectiveness or results. Nearly half of adults (49 percent) who personally do housecleaning agree that it’s important to take the time to do housecleaning right, with one quarter (27 percent) agreeing that the less time spent housecleaning the better.

While overall household surface cleaner category sales in recent years have been stagnant, rising just four percent between 2009 and 2014 to about $4.7 billion, performance has varied from segment to segment, reflecting changing consumer priorities and preferences. The strongest segments and subsegments in recent years have tended to be the ones that place extra emphasis on simplicity, convenience and quick cleanups and disinfection, including all-purpose cleaners, which saw an increase of five percent between 2012 and 2014, and disposable wipes, which grew nine percent in the same time period.

“Mintel research indicates that Americans are more likely to prefer to clean as they go, doing quick cleanups that fit into their busy schedules, as opposed to setting aside time to give the whole house thorough top-to-bottom cleanings, as may have been the case in generations past,” said John Owen Senior Analyst, Household, at Mintel. “This preference for on-the-go cleaning has helped to fuel the market for quick-cleanup products designed to tackle small messes quickly and efficiently, saving both time and effort.”

Gender Roles Blur in Household Cleaning

Consumers on average spend four hours and 21 minutes cleaning the house in a typical week

Mintel research shows that most American adults get involved in housecleaning on some level, with more than half (52 percent) reporting that they take sole responsibility in their households, and more than one third (35 percent) say they share responsibility for cleaning with someone else. Pointing to a generational shift in men’s involvement in housecleaning, men age 18-34 (52 percent) are almost as likely as women age 18-34 (56 percent) to claim primary responsibility for cleaning in their households.

While the way in which Americans prefer to clean the household has evolved over the years, with greater emphasis on quick cleanups, Americans still spend plenty of time cleaning. Consumers on average spend four hours and 21 minutes cleaning the house in a typical week.

The amount of time men and women report spending is almost equal. Male housecleaners report spending about 38 minutes less per week on average than female housecleaners, consistent with the finding that women remain more likely (61 percent) than men (42 percent) to describe themselves as the primary cleaner in their households. The relatively narrow gap in reported time spent cleaning is an indication that traditional gender-specific roles for household chores continue to lose relevance. Women age 18-34 report spending the most time cleaning, just over 5 hours (5 hours and 1 minute), while men age 55+ report the least amount of time spent cleaning the house, at 3 hours and 10 minutes.

“Most adults get involved in housecleaning on some level, with many stating they take sole responsibility. Our data indicates a generational shift in men’s involvement in housecleaning, as men are almost as likely as women to handle the bulk of the cleaning. The slight difference in time spent cleaning the house as reported by men may be the result of men commenting on the amount of housecleaning they believe they should be doing, as opposed to what they actually do. Either way, the gap remains relatively narrow in reported time spent cleaning between men and women and is an indication that traditional gender-specific roles for household chores continue to lose relevance,”  concluded Owen.

Focus on Safer Ingredients

While they comprise only a small portion of the household surface cleaner market, leading eco-friendly brands posted modest gains of two percent in mainstream channels in 2015, according to Mintel research. Their small-scale success may be driven by concern that ingredients in conventional cleaning products can be unhealthy. This belief is held by more than six in 10 housecleaning consumers (62 percent), while 72 percent of consumers agree that natural cleaning products are healthier than conventional ones.

Consistent with the concern that some housecleaning consumers express about the safety of ingredients in cleaning products, nearly one third (32 percent) of US consumers will pay more for all-natural antibacterial products. Furthermore, nearly three in 10 (29 percent) will pay more for a cloth that cleans surfaces with just water. 

Press review copies of the Cleaning the House US 2015 report and interviews with John Owen, Senior Analyst, Household, are available on request from the press office.

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