Kids sponge off cleaning chores: 76% of UK parents say their children have no cleaning responsibilities at all

October 25, 2017

As many children across the nation enjoy a relaxing half term, spare a thought for Britain’s mums and dads left to pick up the chaos left by their little angels. Indeed, Mintel’s Cleaning For The Family UK 2017 Report reveals that 76% of the nation’s parents with children aged 6-17 say that their kids have no cleaning responsibilities.

While the majority of parents are keeping a wide berth between their kids and the cleaning cupboard, for those delegating cleaning tasks to their children, polishing, dusting and vacuuming are the tasks they are most likely to get involved with. One in eight (12%) children aged 6-17 are responsible for polishing or dusting surfaces, while 11% vacuum the floors. However, when it comes to the toilet, just 5% of kids are asked to lend a hand, while the stove proves to be the least popular household task, with a slim 2% of kids cleaning the oven.

Mintel research suggests that it could be safety that it is keeping kids away from the cleaning cloths. Indeed, over half (53%) of parents with children under the age of 18 agree that chemicals can be more damaging to health than germs.

Despite this, parents are still prepared to put in the leg work. Just over half (53%) of those with no children spend more than two hours cleaning a week, compared to seven in 10 (69%) parents with children under the age of 18 who clean for this duration. Furthermore, a dirt-busting 29% of parents clean for more than 5 hours a week.

Hera Crossan, Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, said:

“The fact that so few parents are allowing their children to help out with the cleaning is potentially storing up problems for when these children fly the family nest. In general, parents appear more comfortable assigning ‘softer’ tasks that shy away from the use of cleaning products, such as dusting and vacuuming. This suggests that parents lack confidence in assigning tasks that could have a more direct impact on the health of household residents, such as removing invisible germs, and that parents are looking to avoid their child’s direct exposure to chemical cleaning agents.”

But it’s not just kids who are shirking cleaning responsibilities, with dads also less likely to take responsibility for household chores. Mintel research shows that over nine in 10 (92%) mums claim any responsibility for cleaning the bathroom, compared to 68% of dads who claim the same; meanwhile 91% of mums say they clean the kitchen, in comparison to 70% of dads who say the same.

And all this extra cleaning adds up, with mums twice as likely to spend more than five hours each week cleaning. According to Mintel research, 38% of mums with children under the age of 18 report spending more than five hours cleaning the home in a typical week, compared with 19% of fathers. What’s more, dads are more likely to call in outside help. Three in 10 (30%) dads with children under the age of 18 say they have used a home cleaning service in the last six months*, compared to just 15% of mums.

“Mothers of under-18s still take on the lion’s share of household cleaning responsibilities, to an extent driven by the higher likelihood of mothers of younger children taking time out from work following birth. However, the introduction of Shared Parental Leave in 2015 could see more men take on this responsibility, particularly as they may no longer be the breadwinner in the household, increasing the need for marketers to take this demographic more into account. Aligned with this, movement away from traditional gender stereotyping in advertising is a welcome development. A more diverse and modern representation that shies away from men as incompetent and mothers as obsessive cleaners could garner more interest from families.” Hera adds.

While responsibility for cleaning may vary between household members, many are in agreement on the value of picking up a mop and bucket. Almost three quarters (73%) of parents of under-18s agree it is important to keep the home clean to prevent and/or ease allergies and 70% agree that homes should be cleaned more frequently when a resident is sick.

However, it seems there is a paradox when looking at consumer attitudes towards germs. While over two in three (68%) parents of under-18s agree that all cleaning products should have a germ-killing effect, 69% agree that exposure to some germs can be good for you.

“Cleaning brands looking to match these requirements could focus on the launch of products that distinguish between killing ‘bad’ germs, such as viruses, and those that encourage the growth of ‘good’ bacteria, such as through probiotic content. This may also help alleviate concerns that the increased sterilisation of homes is encouraging instances of allergies.” Hera concludes.

*Six months to August 2017

Press review copies of Mintel’s Cleaning For The Family UK 2017 Report and interviews with Hera Crossan, Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, are available on request from the press office.

Susanna Capecchi
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