Global wellness factor: A clean home

People around the world spend just over two hours cleaning each week. From a mop and broom, to cleaning with steam, or leaving the chores to a robot vacuum, preferences vary around the globe. But everyone agrees about the "Why": 94% of respondents think a clean home is important.

Cleaning hours spent per week around the world

When asked the question 'How important is it to you personally for your home to be clean?', the Brazilians are the clear leaders as 99% of those surveyed say that it's very/somewhat important.  While 94% of all respondents worldwide think a clean home is important. This and other interesting findings are the result of the 'Kärcher Cleaning Study 2018'.

Vinegar, steam cleaner etc. – every country cleans differently

Of those surveyed:

  • 83% of Germans use electric cleaning aids
  • 41% of 18-24 year old French people listen to music and sing while cleaning
  • 21% of Germans think there floor is clean enough to eat from
  • 81% of Brazilians use an ordinary bucket and broom to clean their home

One thing that is consistent: Every country cleans differently.

While a clean home is most important to the Brazilians, according to the survey results, it is Russian households that spend the longest cleaning. At 3.05 hours each week, they are significantly above the average of 2.10 hours.

The Japanese, conversely, get their cleaning done much quicker, spending 1.09 hours a week on it.

At 2.15 hours, the Brits are also just above the average – and at least once a week, some of that time goes on their car: A third of British men wash their car weekly, and a few even daily.

Manual cleaning items, as well as electric appliances are very much in use worldwide. At 83%, many respondents in Germany in particular said that they use a vacuum cleaner, steamer, etc. Brooms and mops were most used in Russia, at 87%.

A total of 17% of respondents globally now use a robotic vacuum, with very different results in terms of distribution: In Brazil the figure is 4%, while in China it's already 38%.

Faced with the choice of just one household appliance, just under half of all Polish people surveyed, would opt for a steam cleaner – a clear commitment.

There were different answers globally when questioned about whether chemical cleaners are preferred vs. tried-and-tested household ingredients. 19% of Japanese people use traditional household ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice or baking powder, as opposed to 54% in Germany.

70% of Japanese respondents have a cleaning agent in their cupboard, in Russia the figure is a huge 88%. The other countries surveyed are somewhere between these values.

In China, only 29% receive support from their partner, family or co-habitants – so the majority cleans alone. In Poland conversely, cleaning the home evolves into more of a family event: 55% of respondents here receive help. This puts Poland in the lead by international comparison – the average figure is 39%.

While France (1.38 hours) is somewhat below the average weekly time spent cleaning, the French enrich the time they do spend with musical accompaniment: Almost 40% sing and dance while cleaning their home. In the USA, 58% like listening to music. In Germany, more than two-thirds enjoy musical accompaniment while cleaning, just 8% listen to an audio book – and yet just under one quarter concentrates fully and exclusively on the task of cleaning.

The results are based on an online survey conducted by the market research institute Research Now in which 9,125 people were asked about cleaning habits in their home country. The results from Brazil, China, Germany, France, Great Britain, Japan, Poland, Russia and the USA represent their populations aged between 18 and 65.

Dan Hayes - Kärcher North America

Experts interview: Cleaning habits in the USA and Japan

On the Japanese cleaning moral and 'quick cleaning' in the USA

2.47 people, 65 sq. meters (700 sq. ft.) of living space in the Tokyo region, a pet in one in five homes – the statistical average household in Japan. The living space outside the capital is just under 110 sq. meters (1,185 sq. ft.). American households comprise an average of 2.5 people. They have around 220 sq. meters (2,360 sq. ft) of space, which almost 70% of them share with a pet – for the majority a dog or cat, as in Japan. Two countries, two different lifestyles – one reason to explore the cleaning habits in Japan and the USA more closely. In a conversion with Kenji Asaki of Kärcher in Japan and Dan Hayes from the USA, the key question was: How do you clean on different sides of the Pacific?

Japan emerges from the survey with two extreme results: as the country with the greatest love of technology, but the shortest time spent cleaning. Can you explain that?

Kenji Asaki: Cleaning is one of the top household activities for us – A survey says that 40% clean their apartment or house every day, and a further 40% every two to three days. The frequency of cleaning simply means it is quicker to do. We also take our shoes off before going into the house – which is a big factor in not getting floors very dirty. There's no contesting that we Japanese also love technology. So it is only logical that we also use electric aids in the home. The vacuum cleaner is the appliance of choice, and robot vacuums are also becoming increasingly popular.

Is cleaning 'along the way' also common in the USA?

Dan Hayes: Here in the USA, like Japan, we tend to clean our apartments and houses regularly throughout the week – what we call 'quick cleaning' is widespread. It used to be different, and comes simply from the fact that in many households everyone goes out to work and wants to keep the weekend free to relax. In the USA, mops are very popular for cleaning floors, and among electric appliances, the vacuum cleaner also tops the sales figures.

Does that mean carpets are popular floor coverings in both countries?

Dan Hayes: That's true for us in the USA. The North Americans love carpets and they are becoming increasingly popular thanks to ever-improving, durable materials. Carpets currently lead the ranking of floor coverings, followed by parquet and ceramic tiles. In lounges and bedrooms in particular, nothing beats the warm, welcoming atmosphere of a carpeted floor for Americans.

Kenji Asaki: Nowadays, wooden hard floor coverings are found in virtually every home. Here in Japan, we work selectively with tatami mats – these are made of braided or compressed rice straw and are laid individually, particularly in the lounge area.

Does that mean in Japanese homes, similar to in the USA, you have predominantly large open-plan kitchens?

Kenji Asaki: Recently, many houses in Japan have a room layout that combines the living, dining and kitchen. It is also the most frequented room and so it is high on the agenda for cleaning. During the traditional 'year-end cleaning', that is still very widespread in Japan, the kitchen is also where we start. Besides that the bathroom is also high up on the to-do list.

In Japan, people remove their shoes out of habit – what else differentiates Japanese cleaning behavior from other countries?

Kenji Asaki: I think this fact influences cleaning habits to the extent that our floors don't really get dirty with sand or mud. We also focus very heavily on cleanliness outside of the home: it wouldn't enter anyone's head to throw trash into the street. The act of cleaning also has a moral aspect: It's not just about it being clean – cleanliness is also a part of education. For example, cleaning the school classroom is among the school rules.

How is that in the USA – is it true that you don't hold back on appliances?

Dan Hayes: The typical US household is across several stories. So it's not uncommon for us to own not one, not two, but up to four different vacuum cleaners. For each floor and for different demands – whether it's a robot vacuum for day-to-day cleaning or appliances for wet and dry carpet cleaning. By the way, these spray extraction appliances for deep-cleaning carpets rank third in the list of most popular cleaning appliances in the USA. Because our houses are generally relatively large, we also have enough storage space to keep a lot of appliances.

Kenji Asaki - Kärcher Japan