By Heather W. Allen
My task in writing this column, if I understand it correctly, is to pick one of the themes in each month’s issue and provide statistics, or the facts if you will, underlying that theme. How cool is that? Here I get this great list of themes and I have the freedom to pick and choose and then dive in and start researching. My instructions were very clear and fairly easy to follow.
I have to admit up front that I am a little compulsive when it comes to cleaning. I desire a clean home, a decluttered home, a home that sparkles and has lots of “empty”: empty spots on shelves, empty spots in closets, empty spots in rooms. Am I there yet? Not by a long shot. Thus, while I kept looking at the various themes included in this issue, I kept going back to the theme of spring cleaning.
Spring cleaning is very important because a home reflects, in part, the state of the family. If a home is cluttered, disorganized, and dirty, life is often one of chaos rather than order. Everything is more difficult when order is not maintained. Items needed can’t be found, or when located they are often not in condition to be used. It’s hard to put items in their proper place when you’re finished using them because either they don’t have a proper place or there are so many other things competing for the space that it’s hard to easily put those items away. If my home is cluttered, disorganized, or dirty, I feel tired and hopeless. I guess I feel like that because my life is out of control and I’ve become a servant to stuff. Wow, that’s a sobering thought: a stuff-centered home.
Another confession: I found seven interesting looking E-Books for my Kindle that pertained to cleaning, decluttering, organizing, and all things that appeal to my sense of a clean and ordered home. While all of the books covered the same basic information, the approaches offered by the various authors differed significantly. In fact, as I read each book I found that dealing with the cleaning, decluttering, and organizing of different rooms in our home was best approached in different ways, depending on the room. I liked the different approaches offered by the various authors, because I could then pick and choose which approach worked best where. I’m digressing, though, and need to focus on spring cleaning and whether or not this is a real phenomenon.
I dived in and started looking for statistics on spring cleaning. Remember, I’m only providing the facts. Someone else gets to be practical and give you the how to’s.
Did you know that there is an organization called The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA)? There is, and they offer a wealth of information and also conduct surveys pertaining to all things clean. I like this organization, now referred to as the American Cleaning Institute, because they focus on cleanliness and order.
In 2004, International Communications Research (ICR) conducted a survey for the SDA, looking at the nature of house cleaning itself.1 Of 1,000 surveyed, 8% of respondents looked at house cleaning as a chore, while 88% considered cleaning as important because it kept their families happy, healthy, and safe. “With widespread news of flu outbreaks and the emergence of other germ-spreading diseases, there is no surprise that people better understand the importance of cleanliness,” according to SDA Vice President Brian Sansoni. He went on to say, “Most importantly, people know that good health is directly linked to good everyday hygiene, and that it begins at home.” As a result of this survey, the SDA proposed the three D’s of spring cleaning: disinfect, deodorize, and declutter.
In 2006, Brian Sansoni from the SDA said “for most Americans, spring is a great time to clean and freshen up their home. They are getting rid of a winter’s worth of dust, dirt and grime. Of course people also appreciate that there are significant physical and emotional benefits to keeping a clean house all year long.”2 During this same time period, the SDA reported that 98% of people feel good about themselves when their home is clean; 97% believe their families appreciate a clean home; 97% say their furnishings will last longer if they are cleaned regularly; 94% believe that cleaning reduces the incidences of illness, allergies, and asthma; and 89% feel their clothes will last longer if they are kept clean.
In 2007, 1,014 adults were surveyed by the ICR for SDA.3 Of those surveyed, 72% said they have visited another person’s home and felt it was “unusually dirty or unclean.” In that same survey, 40% reported that they had been embarrassed by their own unclean homes when unexpected guests had dropped by. Looking at surveys conducted over the last decade or so, about 65% of Americans routinely engage in spring cleaning, and when spring cleaning, the priority rooms are the kitchen (37%), living room (19%), and bedrooms (14%), as well as bathrooms (12%) and family room (8%).
Now that we know a lot of people spring clean, and we know what rooms they tend to clean, now what do they clean? According to a 2008 Spring Cleaning Survey conducted by ICR for the SDA, of the 1,013 American adults (507 men and 506 women) surveyed, 84% clean behind the furniture, 80% wash windows, 76% clean appliances and floors, and 75% wash bedclothes and linens.4
More than 80% of respondents who spring clean agree (46% strongly agree; 36% somewhat agree) that performing a good spring cleaning helps them save time throughout the year. Specifically, 93% feel that spring cleaning makes it easier to keep their home clean throughout the year, and 96% believe that a good spring cleaning includes discarding or donating items they no longer need.
In 2010, 1,008 Americans (500 men and 508 women) were surveyed by Echo Research to ascertain their spring cleaning habits.5 When asked if they regularly engage in spring cleaning, 60% (54% of men and 65% of women) said they did. Of those who did regularly spring clean, 65% said the task was completed within a week (13% said one day; 31% said one weekend; 20% said one week), and 34% said longer than a week (12% said two weekends; 12% said two to three weeks; and 11% said one month or more).
Why did the respondents spring clean? There were four primary reasons noted: to remove clutter (36%), to give the house a thorough cleaning (27%), to remove asthma or allergy triggers (21%), and to prevent the spread of illness (6%). These four reasons were deemed the ABCs of spring cleaning: allergens, bacteria, and clutter.
The weather, at least where I live, is getting nicer. The trees are beginning to bud, flowers are starting to emerge, and the sky is clear and bright. Spring is in the air, and I’m feeling like it’s time for spring cleaning to commence. Let’s get to it! Yes, spring cleaning is a real phenomenon.
Heather and her husband, Steve, live in Edgewood, New Mexico, where they have homeschooled their five children: Edward (17), Joseph (15), Emily (11), Hana (6), and Ezekiel (5), for the last twelve years. When not homeschooling, doing things with her family, or writing for TOS, Heather works as a human factors engineer in her home-based consulting business. For more information about the Allen family, please visit their website at www.hippityhooves.com.
1. “Spring Cleaning Survey. America Comes Clean: House Cleaning Is not a Chore,” March 4, 2004, For Better Living: News Center, www.cleaninginstitute.org/news/2004_spring_cleaning_survey.aspx, February 2012.
2. “Spring Cleaning Still in Season for Most Americans,” March 22, 2006, Newswise: American Cleaning Institute, newswise.com/articles/spring-cleaning-still-in-season-for-most-americans, February 2012.
3.“Is Your Home Guest-Ready or Guest Grimy?” March 20, 2007, Custom Market Research Solutions from ICR, icrsurvey.com/study.aspx?f=sda_0307.htm, February 2012.
4. “Upswing in Spring Cleaning, Says SDA,” March 14, 2008, Housekeeping Channel for the Home you Keep, www.housekeepingchannel.com/a_706-Upswing_in_Spring_Cleaning_Says_SDA, February 2012.
5. “Survey: Removing Clutter Is Top Reason for Spring Cleaning,” March 17, 2010, For Better Living: News Center, www.cleaninginstitute.org/survey_removing_clutter_is_top_reason_for_spring_cleaning/ ,February 2012.
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.