Economy Stimulates Change in Spring Cleaning Behaviors

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Economy Stimulates Change in Spring Cleaning Behaviors

More than two-thirds of Americans still plan on spring cleaning. But according to a new survey from The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA), the economic downturn is having an effect on their household cleaning habits and purchases.

In other words, home economics is taking on a whole new meaning.

SDA’s 2009 Spring Cleaning Survey shows 78 percent of respondents saying the current economic condition has influenced their cleaning habits. Sixty percent say they’re doing more cleaning themselves instead of hiring a cleaning service.

More than four in 10 (44 percent) say they are buying less expensive cleaning products; one-third say they are buying fewer cleaning products. Other respondents say economic factors influenced them to make their own cleaning products at home (22 percent) or clean less frequently (17 percent).

“Consumers can get more bang for their buck by using the right product for the right job and by using the right amount of the product,” says Nancy Bock, VP of education at the Washington-based SDA.

Spring Cleaning is Still a Habit
Among 1,002 American adults surveyed by Echo Research for SDA, 68 percent say they regularly spring clean.

What qualities are most important when it comes to cleaning purchases? Americans rank effectiveness (87 percent), cost (74 percent) and convenience (71 percent) as the top three factors, followed by multipurpose (67 percent) and timesaving (64 percent) benefits.

Sustainability Matters
Consumers are also increasingly seeking sustainability-related benefits in their cleaning products, as reflected by more consumers looking for those features in 2009 (61 percent) than reported in SDA’s 2008 spring cleaning survey (38 percent).

“Fortunately, today’s household cleaning products are meeting the needs of a variety of consumers, no matter what they’re looking for in the product,” added SDA’s Bock. “For instance, more products than ever reflect manufacturer innovations in product sustainability, including concentrated and refillable products that use less water and packaging and high-efficiency detergents designed for washers that use less energy and less water.”

Safety First
“Safe, effective and proper use of cleaning products is what matters most to our industry,” said Bock. “SDA reminds consumers to read their product labels, use them as directed and store them properly. This goes a long way to ensuring your home stays clean and safe.”

To help maximize their cleaning product purchases, Bock offers consumers a few helpful hints that retailers can use in their own promotions:

Look for multipurpose cleaners. “They get the cleaning job done on a variety of surfaces. Just make sure you check the label to see what surfaces you can clean and what surfaces you can’t. Supplement them with specialized cleaners as needed.”

Use the right amount -- read the label. “Consumers often believe that by using more of a product, you’ll get the surface or fabric cleaner. That’s not always the case. With more concentrated products available today, you will find more cleaning power packed into smaller doses. Reading the label helps ensure you’re using the right amount of product to get the job done effectively.”

Fill-up on refillable products. “Buying a refillable cleaning product represents a concrete example of sustainability in action. Many bulk sizes are packaged with a corresponding smaller, refillable version of the product. If your choice doesn’t come that way -- and/or you want to keep the cleaner in multiple locations -- purchase a smaller size and refill the container as necessary. That way, no matter where you use the product, it’ll be properly labeled in case of an emergency.”

The 2009 National Spring Cleaning Survey was completed for The Soap and Detergent Association by Echo Research, Inc. Echo questioned 1,002 American adults (501 men and 501 women) via telephone on Feb. 13 through Feb. 16, 2009. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent. A summary of the survey results will be available on SDA’s Web site at