Press Release

The dirt on cleaning: Men share more of the load than you think

Press Release

The dirt on cleaning: Men share more of the load than you think

Globally, 45% say that housework is either a shared responsibility (28%) or the domain of men (17%) Insights explore the underlying macro-economic forces affecting the homecare industry.

New York, NY, April 5, 2016 – Dust and stains remain unavoidable adversaries for consumers worldwide. It’s not surprising, then, that we spend a significant amount of time trying to keep our homes and clothes fresh and clean. In Nielsen’s new Global Survey examining home cleaning and laundry habits, nearly one-third of global respondents (31%) say they clean every day, and the same percentage (31%) say they do laundry daily, but cultural tradition, product availability, innovation, and financial considerations mean that the tools of the trade are different around the world. 

Who cleans and who buys

Today, 44% of respondents say the female head of household does the majority of cleaning. But that’s not to say men aren’t sharing in the load. Globally, 28% say house cleaning is a shared responsibility between the two heads of the household, and 17% of respondents say men do the majority of cleaning. Responsibility for product purchasing largely mirrors who is doing the cleaning—with even greater female influence. More than half of global respondents (51%) say the female head of household buys the majority of cleaning products, nearly one-quarter (23%) say it’s a shared responsibility and slightly fewer (21%) say the male head of household is responsible for the majority of purchasing.

“The perception that home care is only women’s work is inaccurate,” said Sarah Peters, Nielsen Global Business Partner. “The female head of household remains a key stakeholder in the cleaning process in many homes, but as more men play an active role in housework, marketing strategies need to reflect a more balanced approach—from product innovations to marketing messages. This will require a deeper understanding of how each gender approaches the task of cleaning and where gaps in current offerings may exist.”   

What’s cleaning up at stores around the world

Modern retailers come out on top in every region as the self-reported place to purchase cleaning products. More than three-quarters (77%) of global respondents say they purchased household cleaning products from a large retail chain (such as a mass merchandiser or hypermarket) in the past 12 months.

E-commerce is an important channel in Asia-Pacific. Thirty-seven percent of respondents in this region say they have purchased household-cleaning supplies from an online retailer in the past 12 months, compared with 23% globally. Online shopping is particularly popular among online respondents in India (48%), China (43%), and South Korea (43%).

“Distribution is the top driver of product trial, and it is positively correlated with product volume,” said Peters. “Presently, e-commerce accounts for only a small share of household products sales, but it is growing rapidly, particularly in Asia. As increasing economic prosperity in the region drives sales of household cleaners, establishing and maintaining strong relationships with both brick-and-mortar and pure-play online retailers will be important for capitalizing on this growth.”

Respondents in Asia-Pacific are also inclined to shop at traditional stores. Four in 10 respondents in the region say they’ve purchased cleaning products from a small, family-owned shop during the past 12 months, 10 percentage points above the global average.

Consumers come clean about preferred product attributes

It should come as no surprise that efficiency and value top the list of most important attributes in a home cleaning product. Sixty-one percent of global respondents say performance (it cleans well) is very important when selecting a household cleaning product. In addition, more than half (54%) say good price/value is very important. Connected with efficacy are previous experience and trust. Four in 10 global respondents say previous experience is very important when selecting household-cleaning products, while slightly fewer (37%) say a trusted brand name is very important.

And secondary attributes should not be overlooked. Nearly three in 10 respondents say packaging that is easy to use or store (29%) or that comes in a size that fits their family’s needs (28%) is very important. In addition, some consumers are leaning green. Twenty-six percent of global respondents say organic/all-natural ingredients are very important, and 24% say environmentally friendly/sustainable packaging is very important.

Consumers purchasing laundry detergent also list performance as a top attribute when making a choice—59% say they seek detergents that are best at getting stains out. More than half (54%) say they look for high-efficiency products (i.e., products that require less water), and 46% say they’re looking for detergents they can use on multiple types of items. Over one-third (35%) of global respondents say they seek detergents that don’t contain harsh chemicals and slightly fewer (32%) want environmentally friendly detergents.

About the Nielsen global survey

The Nielsen Global Homecare Survey was conducted Aug. 10 – Sep. 4, 2015, and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 61 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa, and North America. The sample includes Internet users who agreed to participate in this survey and has quotas based on age and sex for each country. It is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers by country. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. However, a probability sample of equivalent size would have a margin of error of ±0.9% at the global level. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers watch and buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services for all devices on which content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen also provides its clients with analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit

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