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How We Clean

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | March 6, 2017

Consumers describe what makes them tick and what ticks them off about household cleaning products.

Dirty dishes, floors and toilets—few people really like to clean; some dislike the process more than others. That was evident during the Beyond the Surface consumer panel, hosted by Takasago International, during the American Cleaning Institute’s annual convention.  For the first time, ACI invited consumers to its yearly event to get their thoughts on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to household cleaning.

One panelist, Sarah Kohrs, insisted she enjoyed cleaning; that is, until her daughter was born a couple of years ago. Now she’s all about bringing up baby and all her energy is focused on raising her toddler.

All in the Family

“I just ordered a Dyson toy vacuum for my daughter,” she told the audience.
Children play a role in Anthony Distefano’s cleaning routine, too; he gets his 11-year-old son involved in the cleaning process by making a game of it, and his son enjoys using a dusting wand.
“I don’t want him around chemicals,” Distefano added.
Along the same lines, Kohrs said her house is now bleach-free and she even relies on essential oils for some cleaning jobs.
“I’ve used Dreft since Day 1 (for laundry),” she told the audience. “I’d like to try more organic products, too.”
Similarly, Distefano said he often dilutes cleaning products with water so that they won’t be “too chemical.”
Home brewing aside, Distefano said he has a favorite room and a favorite room to clean, too.
“The kitchen is my favorite room,” he told the audience, “But not to clean; that would be the living room.”
Leslie Key, however, said the kitchen is the place where homeowners really need to come clean.
“People pay attention to how clean your kitchen and bathroom are, and I am a germaphobe,” she explained.
For others, like Kohrs, the kitchen is the worst room in the house to get in order. But for at least one panelist, it’s not what room she has to clean—it's for whom! Trenise Boone said cleaning up after her husband can be a real chore.
“He’s a mechanic, everything he touches gets grease on it,” she explained. “I want to Scotchgard everything!"
Meanwhile, Lamar Billups said he’s frustrated having to switch cleaning products when he’s in the same room.
What Works and Where
When it comes to fabric care products, many of the panelists were very specific about their detergent of choice. Distefano is a fan of Unstopables with Febreze—in fact, he called Febreze a game-changer when it comes to homecleaning products; while Kohrs prefers Tide, another Procter & Gamble brand.  Key’s favorite product is Downy Wrinkle Release, but she yearns for more fragrance options. Key also told the audience that clean laundry is a must; that means, no spots! With that in mind, she relies on a cadre of cleaning products to get her laundry spotless.
“I like Oxiclean and Spray n’Wash,” she explained. “Baking soda is a good catalyst for laundry products, too.”
Key may have her bases, acids and catalysts confused, but like other panel members, she knows when clothes and surfaces are clean. Billups told attendees that his family loves the smell of Fabuloso, explaining that it is the signature scent in his home, but he often mixes it with bleach and water.
Not everyone is a "chemist" or an expert when it comes to doing laundry.
“I make mistakes; laundry is frustrating,” admitted Claire Kent, a college student. “I need more details. (Now) I Google ways to clean things.”
As for their favorite cleaners?
“Mr. Clean Magic Eraser,” insisted Kohrs. “It gets out 99% of stains.”
For Key, the cleaner of choice is Scott’s Liquid Gold.
“It is an amazing wood cleaner,” she gushed. “It has an amazing sweet almond scent. I love the smell. I’d love to have it as an air freshener!.”
For Kent, a quick, convenient clean is critical, and wipes fit the bill.
Clorox Wipes are awesome,” she explained. “I’m concerned about my carbon footprint.”
Key, too, likes a Clorox product, in this case, Clorox Cleanup.
“I’m a germaphobe and bleach kills germs.”
What Happens at Retail
The panelists had a lot of preferences, but the moment of truth, of course, is what happens at retail. For Kohrs, and some others, their purchasing choices have changed over the years.
“I want more natural products since I became a mother,” she explained. “I want fewer ingredients (in product formulas) and I don’t care about the price.”
Similarly, Boone said price doesn’t outweigh quality when it comes to making home cleaning purchases. But for Kent, the cash-strapped college student, price is everything when it comes to home cleaning products.
“I don’t want to spend money on cleaning products,” she explained. “Cheap is good!”
Kent is also a fan of refills as she is trying to use less plastic these days.
But before they buy it, they gotta find it and Billups lamented that more marketing and advertising needs to be targeted to men.
“I watch a lot of sports, but I’ve never seen cool cleaning advertisements for men.”
Clearly, consumers have a lot to say about mundane cleaning chores. Now the question is, “P&G, RB and Clorox are you listening?”