There are two main seasons when cleaning the home is top of mind: Spring and winter. Seventy-six percent of Americans claim to participate in spring cleaning each year, and tackling a dirty home before family visits for the holidays is a dreaded challenge for many.
While deep cleaning is popular at these times, regular maintenance is needed throughout the year as well. A dirty home can not only cause the spread of bacteria and allergens, but it’s also a source of emotional tension. When surveyed, 66 percent of Americans said that a dirty home made them feel stressed or anxious.
To get a better idea of how people approach cleaning in their home, we asked 1,000 Americans about their cleaning habits. When asked "Who does the majority of the cleaning in your home?," 63 percent reported doing the cleaning themselves, 12 percent leave it for their partner or significant other and 12 percent pawn it off on a maid or cleaning service. Less than 5 percent of respondents said their roommate, parent, sibling or relative did the majority of cleaning.
If you’re in the majority of Americans who do their own cleaning, you know how irritating and time consuming it can be. To save you time and energy, it’s important that you clean the right things.
While crumbs, spills and stains don’t seem to phase most people, clutter was cited as the most annoying mess to deal with. In the age of Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Americans are more concerned with the appearance of clutter and the effects it has on their mental state.
Decluttering has been proven to have an impact on mood and self-esteem. Clutter can overwhelm our senses, take the focus away from other things and make it difficult to relax. It can inhibit creativity and productivity. This disorganized state also serves as a source of embarrassment and guilt about what your home should look like when guests visit.
These emotional ties to clutter have made it the focus of most cleaning that’s done in the home. While it’s good to reduce clutter in your home, more in-depth cleaning needs to be done more often. You may be focused on the mess of items in your garage, while crumbs are attracting house bugs that carry diseases or your kitchen sink grows bacteria that can cause serious illness.
The roles of women in the home have evolved over time and are still changing. While the traditional responsibilities of women were to stay home and keep the house in order, more and more men are taking on some of this work. But despite an increase in women gaining power in the workplace, they still take the lead on cleaning responsibilities. A 2018 survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in the average day, 49 percent of women did housework while only 20 percent of men did.
Our surveys showed similar results. Seventy-two percent of females claimed to do most of the cleaning in their home while only 53 percent of men could claim the same. In addition, women were more likely to deep clean their home. Thirty-four percent of women deep clean their sink every couple days compared to the 25 percent of males who do this task. About 31 percent of males had never deep cleaned the sink while only 21 percent of women hadn’t.
Why do women do more cleaning? Seventy-eight percent of women felt stressed or anxious due to a dirty home while only 55 percent of men did. These anxious feelings may be due to fear of judgment.
The New York Times reported that women are more likely to be judged for a messy house than men. When the participants in their study were told a woman lived in a clean room, the room was judged more harshly and was perceived as less clean than when they were told a man lived in it. Potentially due to a perception that women should be cleaner than men, some women feel obligated to clean more.
No matter your gender, you should clean your home more often than you think. A study by NSF found that coliform bacteria was found in 81 percent of households, yeast and mold was present in 31 percent of households and Staphylococcus aureus is found in over 5 percent of households. With so much bacteria present, it’s important to consider the impact of dirt on your home and know how often you should clean it.
While many think the bathroom is the dirtiest part of the house, the truth is that the kitchen can be contaminated with much more bacteria. Americans are cautious when visiting restaurants, noting their cleanliness, but often forget to clean the area where most of their meals are made and consumed.
Sponges and dishrags should be swapped out every few days. NSF International found that in its study of bacteria on common household items, dish sponges and rags held the most. The organization discovered coliform on more than 75 percent of the analyzed dish sponges and rags.
When we surveyed 1,000 Americans, 40 percent responded that they change their dish sponges or rags every week, while 60 percent only switched them every two weeks or longer. With such a high chance of your sponge growing bacteria, it’s important to be aware of changing it out frequently. To reduce waste, try using a dishcloth instead and washing it in your weekly laundry load.
You should deep clean your kitchen sink at least once a week. In fact, your sink could be dirtier than your toilet bowl. Food particles from dirty plates that were rinsed or left to soak can become home to illness-causing bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella. The study by NSF International found that 45 percent of kitchen sinks had coliform.
When we surveyed Americans on how often they deep clean the kitchen sink, we found that people are either religious about it or they neglect it entirely. Twenty-nine percent reported giving their kitchen sink a deep clean every couple days and 20 percent reported cleaning every week. On the other hand, a quarter (26 percent) had never deep cleaned their kitchen sink.
The microwave should be cleaned out every week. While a popular belief is that the heat will kill any germs, this is not always the case. This means the germs from spilled food in the microwave can also be prone to bacteria. Even if you don’t use your microwave regularly, there is still a chance that food previously spilled in it could grow bacteria or attract bugs.
The average person spends a third of their day (eight hours) sleeping in their bedroom. If the room is dirty, the time of slumber that’s intended for rejuvenation could actually be making you sick.
The sheets on your bed should be washed every one to two weeks. Your sheets attract dirt, sweat, oils from the body, skin cells, any lotions or products you use and dust mites. A typical used mattress is predicted to have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites in it. Since they feed on dead skin cells, dirty sheets can attract more.
The living room is just that: A place for living. It attracts the dirty shoes of people passing through, the pet hair of furry friends and the occasional crumbs from a snack enjoyed in front of the TV.
It’s suggested to vacuum your rugs every week and deep clean them every six to 12 months. A mixture of skin particles, dirt, pet hair and food can accumulate in your carpet. If it’s not cleaned every week, the dirt sinks deeper and becomes harder to clean. A deep clean should be done when you move to account for the previous owner’s dirt. In addition to this, it should be cleaned yearly to catch any grime that your vacuum couldn’t pick up.
The floors in your home should be washed every week or two. Humans lose between 30,000 and 40,000 skin cells every hour. The dust in your home includes these skin cells along with plant pollen, soil and human and pet hair. Neglecting to wash the floors allows this to build up and can cause allergies or illness.
Many perceive the bathroom as the dirtiest place in the home. As mentioned earlier, it’s the kitchen that champions this title, but the bathroom can still host a number of bacteria if not cleaned properly.
While you may be aware that your toothbrush should be changed out every three months, you may not be aware that your toothbrush holder should be cleaned on a weekly basis. The National Sanitation Foundation found that 27 percent of toothbrush holders had coliform bacteria on them. Your mouth is home to an abundance of bacteria and so are your hands. When you place the handle of the wet toothbrush into its holder, the liquid drips down and creates a pool of germs as the bottom of your holder. Cleaning it out regularly will prevent house bugs like cockroaches or silverfish.
Bathroom towels should be washed at least once a week — more if you’re sick or have kids. The National Sanitation Foundation found that towels used even for one day contained traces of yeast, mold, aerobic bacteria, coliform and E. coli bacteria. The towels used the most had more bacteria. It’s recommended to use a towel for no longer than seven days.
While clutter can have an emotional impact, a dirty home can cause more severe illness. When you clean your home, be sure that you deep clean the household items that attract the most bacteria instead of just decluttering the space.
Be sure to clean weekly to keep your apartment germ free and increase your chance of getting your deposit back. When looking for an apartment, be sure the new place is professionally cleaned before you move in so that you have a fresh start.
This study consisted of five survey questions conducted using Google Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,000 completed responses per question. The survey applies post-stratification weighting to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. The survey ran during September 2019.
Additionally, we referenced a study done in 2011 by the National Safety Foundation on household germs. They analyzed 30 common items in the households of 22 volunteer families.