The dirty truth about Britain's undies – just 78% of British men change them every day

January 11, 2012

Clean undies on a daily basis, one would imagine it’s something that most of the nation would take for granted, yet finds while a change of pants and socks is almost a sure bet for Britain’s ladies (95%) this figure drops to a staggering 78% of British men.

Latest research into the nation’s laundry habits finds 87% of all British adults change their pants and socks on a daily basis. Regionally, those in the South East and East Anglia are the most fastidious about changing their underwear, with almost 91% changing their socks and pants on a daily basis compared to just 81% of those living in the North West. Meanwhile, those who are single (82%) are considerably less likely to put on fresh undies than their married counterparts (88%).

Richard Caines, Senior Consumer Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Our research reveals there is a distinct whiff of laziness amongst men in the UK today when it comes to underwear. You might assume that for personal hygiene reasons everyone puts on clean underwear when they get dressed at the start of the day, yet only eight in ten men appear to be doing so. It seems that the influence of a partner is a positive one when it comes to changing underwear and socks, with those who are married more likely to change their underwear on a daily basis.”

When it comes to clothes washing, 42% of British households put on a wash two or three times a week, meanwhile, almost four in ten (38%) households put on four or more wash loads a week. While a large proportion of clothes are washed when they are not visibly dirty, with over half (52%) of adults wearing shirts or tops only once before putting them in the wash, only a small minority (16%) wait for these items to look visibly dirty before washing. In just half of homes (53%) the bedding gets washed at least once a week, but three quarters (74%) of people get the towels washed on at least a weekly basis.

And it seems that ironing tops the list of the nation’s most hated laundry tasks. This household chore is hated by as many as 40% of Brits, while around the same number (37%) admit it is one of the worst household chores. Ironing is most likely to be done just once a week, with a third (32%) of adults making ironing a weekly household chore, meanwhile, a quarter (27%) of people do ironing less than once a week or not at all. An enthusiastic 12% of the nation are ironing addicts, ironing all clothing items including underwear, meanwhile, two thirds of Brits (64%) only iron items that really need an iron.

And it seems that the age of gender equality has yet to be fully realised, at least in terms of household chores, as the nation’s women are more than twice (79%) as likely as men (37%) to take the main responsibility for all the main laundry tasks in the home.

While the majority of men of most ages have some responsibility for laundry tasks, men aged 55 and over are significantly less likely to be involved, just 56% of men aged 55 and over load and put on the washing machine compared to as many as 81% of men aged between 25 and 34. Among men who are married or living with a partner, women take on the main responsibility for laundry tasks in the vast majority of homes. For example, only 19% of men living as a couple take the main responsibility for putting on the washing machine compared with 83% of women living with a partner.

“If men are involved with laundry it is most likely to be as part of a shared responsibility but over time their level of involvement has been increasing. A generational shift is certainly being seen, with men under 55 significantly more likely to share some responsibility for laundry tasks.”concludes Richard.

Finally, when it comes to the environment, over the last few years both appliance and detergent manufacturers have put an increased emphasis on saving energy. A higher energy efficiency rating is important to 76% of adults when choosing a washing machine and using less water is important to 59% of people. Saving energy usage manifests itself in a number of ways, including making sure only full loads of washing are run, washing on low temperatures and using shorter wash cycles. Some 43% of those with responsibilities for clothes washing are doing more washing on low temperatures than a few years ago and 29% are making more use of short wash cycles.


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