Spring cleaning doesn’t only signal warmer weather.
Many use this as an opportunity to clean their homes, and certain areas might be easier to maintain, such as making the bed or taking out the trash. However, dirt and dust find homes in nooks and crannies, and many people avoid those cleaning tasks like the plague.
We surveyed 1,000 people about the rooms and areas they were most likely to clean regularly, and which ones they admittedly never got around to cleaning at all. Keep reading to learn more.
How often do we really clean?
While most people said that they cleaned their homes at least once per week, having children certainly increased the odds of regular upkeep. Households with children were over 16 percentage points more likely to be cleaned at least a few times per week, which is fully understandable considering that children thrive when running around and getting messy.
Cleanliness is extremely important when eliminating harmful bacteria, but overcleaning may do more harm than good. With 65 percent of respondents agreeing that it’s possible to keep one’s home “too clean,” it’s important to remember that hyper-sterilized environments are scrapped of good microbes that help us build immunity to illnesses.
To mitigate this, experts recommend targeting cleaning to the areas that are known to harbor nasty bacteria, such as the bathroom and kitchen. With a guided approach to cleaning, it can be easier to tackle small things around the house.
While men are not more “dirt blind” than women, women are typically held to higher standards regarding home cleanliness: We found that women cleaned 1.5 times more often than men, with men 14 percentage points more likely to never clean their dishes right after eating.
Tasks we prioritize weekly, monthly, and never
Generally speaking, people rarely clean what they and others cannot see. Dust and dirt tend to gather under furniture, on windowsills, atop ceiling fans, and all over our floors. And the latter point seems to go unnoticed by many participants, even the ones with some of the dirtiest floors: 42 percent of respondents who only cleaned their floors once a month to every few months said they would eat off them. If you don’t remove your shoes before entering your home (which you should totally do), you run the risk of bringing in everything your shoes stepped on (including public bathroom floor grime).
Speaking of food, the kitchen is a hotbed for neglected cleaning, as our respondents admitted. Twenty-two percent of survey participants had never cleaned their oven, a gathering place for food scraps that fall off sheet trays and baking dishes. In the refrigerator, most fresh ingredients typically have a shelf life of a week or less, yet nearly 40 percent of respondents wiped down and cleaned out their fridge only once per month, and 10 percent of respondents never cleaned out their fridge or freezer. The fridge is an environment ripe for mold and bacteria to grow, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and keep track of what’s inside.
Even when it came to home air quality, most people surveyed didn’t prioritize their lung health: Nearly 46 percent of respondents sometimes manage to change their air conditioner filter once every few months and 21 percent have never swapped theirs out. Industry experts suggest changing your filter every 30 days, and more often than that if you have other air-related factors to consider (like pet dander or poor air quality in your community).
The chores we dread the most
Survey participants avoided cleaning out the fridge more than most other areas of the home, waiting an average of 68 days in between cleanings. This chronic avoidance of the fridge resulted in 26 percent of respondents finding expired food in their fridge a few times a month. It’s never worth it to risk eating spoiled or rotten food, as it can lead to food poisoning and exposure to other food-borne illnesses. Labeling leftovers and fresh ingredients with prep dates can help avoid food spoilage, but remember: If in doubt, throw it out.
Dentists agree that you should change your toothbrush every three months or so, more often if you notice fraying on the bristles. Most respondents left 96 days in between toothbrush replacements, on average, but illnesses can expedite the need to swap out your toothbrush to ensure you don’t keep germs around. However, 48 percent of respondents said they didn’t change their germ-ridden toothbrushes after being sick, a step in the wrong direction when trying to overcome illness.
According to respondents, having kids and pets in the household negatively affected inviting people over: Over half said they at least sometimes avoided having guests over due to home cleanliness. An unclean home stresses us out when we have guests, resulting in “marathon cleans” to keep up appearances. This is not only exhausting but also it doesn’t represent a sustainable way to manage the home.
Regular cleaning services
Do you feel overwhelmed when trying to handle house cleaning? Consider bringing in extra help if you are financially able to: A fifth of survey participants paid for regular cleaning services.
These visits are extremely valuable to homeowners who can pivot their focus on children, work, pets, hobbies, and other activities. However, they don’t come cheap: On average, people spent over $60 per visit, amounting to nearly $250 per month on cleaning services. Justifying the cost of these services might come easy, though, as you can personalize the experience by choosing the cleaning job and intensiveness of the work. However, around three-quarters of respondents tidied up their homes before housekeeping arrived.
Thinking about big tasks? Consider professional help
As it turns out, many dirty areas around the home go untouched. Everything in our homes is covered in bacteria, some of which can be harmful to our health. However, overcleaning isn’t always the answer. Follow expert advice to strike the perfect balance.
Ask yourself: When’s the last time you cleaned under the sofa? Is your bathroom overdue for a full deep-cleaning? Are you feeling inspired to tackle those cleaning projects that you’ve been avoiding? Don’t feel intimidated by those larger tasks that may loom over your mind. Look to Porch to find trusted help for any project that you may come across. From home renovation endeavors to simple weekend projects, find what you’re looking for at Porch.
To conduct this survey, we surveyed 1,000 Americans about their home maintenance habits. Everyone was eligible to qualify for the survey. The participants were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service. If respondents failed to answer an attention-check question that was placed about halfway through the survey, they were disqualified, and their answers were excluded from our analysis.
The average age of participants was 35.7 with a standard deviation of 12.3 years. There were 486 female and 511 male respondents. The generational breakdown is as follows: 103 baby boomers, 232 Gen Xers, 606 millennials, 54 Gen Zers, and five from the silent generation.
To calculate how many times a month that a cleaning service was used, we limited the number of times to no more than 31, as there are no more than 31 days in any given month.
The data for this study rely on self-reporting. There are several potential problems that can come up as a result of this type of data, including but not limited to selective memory, telescoping, and exaggeration. We cannot be certain as to how closely our results match up to reality.
Fair use statement
Shocked by how little or how much people clean their homes? Your readers might be too! Feel free to pass this study along. We just ask that it be for noncommercial purposes, and you link back to this page.