When was the last time you cleaned the inside of your refrigerator? And I don’t mean eating all the food that was in there. When did you actually move the food aside and scrub the shelves and drawers? If you are like the majority of consumers, it was probably a year ago around this time when you did your annual spring cleaning. While chores, like cleaning the bathroom, or changing the bed sheets, are likely done once a week, spring is the time for that windows-open-massive-top-to-bottom cleaning and decluttering. AYTM surveyed 1,000 US consumers to find out what motivates them to take on a spring cleaning, their least favorite cleaning tasks, whether they follow the KonMari method of home organization guru, Marie Kondo, and more.
Why Clean in the Spring?
Once spring arrives - the flowers bloom, the bees buzz around, our social media feeds are filled with photos of adorable baby animals and it is once again time for the annual tradition of spring cleaning. Have you ever wondered how this tradition got started? Though nobody knows the exact origin of the spring cleaning, historians believe it is based on both religious and secular occurrences that happen in March and April. Cleaning rituals are associated with the Jewish holiday of Passover, the Iranian holiday of Nowruz, the Catholic observance of Palm Sunday, as well as Eastern Orthodox lent rituals. The non-religious origins are thought to be from the 1800s when the warmer weather allowed for the windows and doors to be opened to clean out the soot/grime that had accumulated over the winter. Whatever their reasons, a majority of our respondents, 76%, said they will be participating in spring cleaning this year and that they do it every year. Consumers ages 45-64 were more likely to say they do an annual spring cleaning. 4% said this would be their first year doing a spring cleaning, and 20% said they do not plan to spring clean. Among the spring cleaners, April was by far the most popular month for the task chosen by 67%. March was a distant second with 18%, May got 12%, and June was the month of choice for just 2%.
Just Do It
The primary motivation for spring cleaning was to reduce stress by having a clean, organized home according to 54% of spring cleaners. 25% were motivated by a healthier living environment, 16% said that feeling of accomplishment when it was done was the motivation they need, and 4% said their top motivation was making extra cash from selling unused items. I suspect that watching most of Hoarders Season 10 which began airing in March might also have been a motivator. Or perhaps, you needed to get the house cleaned for your Game of Thrones final season watch party.
Spring cleaning can also be a way to fulfill those New Year’s resolutions for a healthier lifestyle. Staying in line with the desire to improve their home environment, 58% of consumers said they use environmentally safe cleaning products. Simple Green, Seventh Generation, and Method were the most popular products used. Even with their desire for a less stressful, healthier living space, these spring cleaners nonetheless face spring cleaning challenges. When asked to rank these challenges, the top five were:
- 15% - Getting motivated
- 13% - Physical effort it takes
- 13% - Finding the time
- 12% - Not knowing where to start
- 12% - Feeling overwhelmed
The Cost of Clean
If you do it right, a spring cleaning means spending both money and time. The spring cleaners we surveyed anticipated spending an average of:
- $59.55 on cleaning products (e.g., floor cleaner, window cleaner, detergent, etc.)
- $54.50 on storage/organization products (e.g., baskets, plastic bins, etc.)
- $49.97 on cleaning tools (e.g., mop, paper towels, bucket, etc.)
Top five brick and mortar stores for purchasing cleaning products and supplies were
- Walmart (67%)
- Dollar stores (41%)
- Target (30%)
- Grocery stores (29%)
- Home Depot (19%).
As far as the time they will be setting aside, 37% anticipate spending a whole weekend cleaning, 31% are planning for a full day, 25% think it will take a week or more, and then there is an optimistic 8% who think it will take them 1 to 2 hours. Men were more likely to say the spring cleaning would take a full day, while women were more likely to say a week or more.
You Mess It Up, You Clean It Up
When it comes to who is responsible for the household cleaning, 80% of respondents said that they were the primary cleaner. Not surprisingly, women were more likely to choose this response. Only 2% of respondents said they paid a cleaning service to do the cleaning. It is interesting to note that 26% of respondents also said they make the biggest messes. Here is who they blamed the rest of the messes on:
- 26% - Children
- 18% - Partner/spouse
- 17% - Pets
- 5% - Guests/visitors
- 5% - Roommate(s)
Cleaning your living space is made up of many different tasks and there is something to appeal to every personality. Then there are the tasks that everyone agrees are the worst. The following table shows which chores are the favorites and which are dreaded.
Top Five Most Favorite Cleaning Tasks
- Doing Laundry
- Clearing out clutter
- Making the bed/changing the sheets
- Washing dishes
Bottom Five Least Favorite Cleaning Tasks
- Cleaning the cat litter/picking up dog waste
- Cleaning the toilet
- Washing windows
- Cleaning appliances
Does It Spark Joy?
We couldn’t do a spring cleaning survey without mentioning the hottest cleaning trend around -- KonMari -- the home organization methodology taught by Marie Kondo in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. 5% of our respondents said they use the KonMari method. In a nutshell, this method teaches you to find all of the similar items in your home (e.g., all of your sweaters, all of your flower pots, all of your hats, etc.) pile them up together, then go through each one asking yourself if it sparks joy. If it does not spark joy, then out it goes. 51% of respondents said they use a more traditional room-by-room organizing method where they work on organizing one whole room before going on to the next.
It appears that the tradition of spring cleaning is going strong with a majority of consumers taking the time in April to freshen up their living quarters. A clean and organized home leads to less stress and a healthier living environment. When asked who does the cleaning, people say they do. When asked who makes the messes, people say they do. That is the simple conclusion you can draw from our spring cleaning survey. Also, to state the obvious, nobody likes picking up pet waste or cleaning toilets. However, it is a bit surprising to see doing laundry as the favorite cleaning task. One is left to wonder if this includes the actual folding and putting away part of the task. Something to keep in mind for further research.