Dyson study reveals shocking decrease in Brits' cleaning schedules

A young mother vacuums her sofa with a Dyson handheld vacuum while her young daughter watches
All around the world, people are becoming less likely to maintain a regular cleaning schedule, according to a new survey by Dyson. (Getty Images)

Keeping our homes clean and tidy is essential, but vacuuming, dusting, and wiping often feels like a never-ending task. In fact, the mundanity of the chore has led to a significant drop in cleaning "discipline" around the world; including among Britons.

Insights revealed by Dyson’s 2023 global dust study, which surveyed 30,000 people from 39 countries, revealed a number of insights into the way we clean - or perhaps don't clean - our homes, and how aware we are about the nasties contained in household dust.

The report comes after a previous survey by Taps Warehouse, released in September, found that most people spend up to 10 hours cleaning each week. Overall, Britons are more likely to clean on Mondays, followed by Saturdays and Sundays, the survey found.

But Dyson's findings show that people are struggling to maintain regular cleaning schedules, which the company warns could lead to the spread of viruses and bacteria.

Britons are becoming more lax about cleaning schedules

Close-up Of Person Hand Filling Weekly Cleaning Plan Form With Pen
Cleaning schedules are becoming less rigorous as more people tend to only clean when they see visible dust or dirt. (Getty Images)

The study showed that there has been a 15% global reduction in people who usually maintain a cleaning schedule. Among British households, 47% admitted they are only motivated to clean when they see dirt or dust around their homes.

This “reactive” attitude towards cleaning was also reflected in other countries, with 60% of people globally admitting to the practice, and has seen a 20% rise overall compared to 2022. Around 41% claimed to have a regular cleaning schedule, but this figure has dropped by 15% compared to last year.

Awareness of household dust composition is low

However, the study found that awareness of what can be found in household dust is low. Just one in three Britons were aware that viruses and bacteria, as well as dust mite faeces, skin flakes and pet dander, can be found in household dust.

More than a fifth (27%) of Britons also admitted that they did not know some viruses can survive on surfaces over two days if the area is not cleaned regularly. Dyson’s research also revealed that one in two British people think the bathroom is the worst offender for harbouring viruses, followed by the kitchen (47%) and the toilets (34%).

While there has been an increase in awareness about the presence of viruses on pets, more than a third (37%) of dog owners in the UK are allowing their dogs to sleep on their beds. Meanwhile, 55% of households globally are living with someone who has allergies, but just a few are aware of the presence of common allergy inducers in dust.

Only a third surveyed said they were aware that pollen can reside in dust, with a similar percentage (32%) knew about the potential presence of dust mite faeces.

'Cause for concern'

Commenting on the findings, Monika Stuczen, research scientist in microbiology at Dyson, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the presence of viruses in indoor environments and emphasised the need for regular cleaning to maintain a healthy home. This significant increase in the number of people only cleaning when they spot visible dust is a cause for concern, as many dust particles – including viruses and bacteria – are microscopic in size and not visible to the naked eye.

“COVID-19 highlighted transmission via respiratory events such as coughing or sneezing but there is growing evidence that small aerosol droplets can be carried around indoor environments on air currents, like cigarette smoke, and settle on surfaces,” she added.

“If people are more aware of what’s in their dust and how it can be spread around the home, they can better focus their time and attention when cleaning to support their wellbeing.”

Dyson highlighted the importance of using a vacuum with strong filters and seals, as this will reduce the risk of the vacuum releasing some of what they pick up back into the environment. The brand added that one of the “essential jobs of a vacuum cleaner” is to expel cleaner air, which depends on its filtration system.

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“How clean that air is, is determined by [a vacuum’s] filtration system; whereby filter design, airflow pathways, and machine sealine work together to ensure the dust that is sucked up, is not expelled back into the air,” Dyson said in its report.

Subsequently, the study found that awareness of filters is low globally, with only one in four considering themselves aware of HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) - however, the UK has the highest (30%) awareness of the term.

“We hope our latest global dust study will continue to encourage people to think about what can reside in household dust, and how that might impact the well-being of those in their household. The best way to remove dust is by using a vacuum cleaner with effective filtration and sealing technology, to ensure that whatever you vacuum remains trapped and is not expelled back into the home,” Stuczen said.

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