Does It All Come Out In the Wash?

The Rough and Tumble of Canadians and Their Laundry

Toronto, ON - A new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of National PR/GE reveals that nearly three in ten Canadians (28%) consider themselves to be laundry "experts" - they know exactly how much water and soap to use and can remove every stain on their family's clothing.

However, most (65%) classify their laundry knowledge as average, noting that they sort of know how much soap and water to use, but that they can usually remove most stains on their family's clothing. Just 6% say that their knowledge is poor, and that they have no idea how much soap or water to use and have a tough time getting stains out of their clothing.

  • A gender gap emerges, as men are much more likely than women to say they have significant difficulties when doing laundry (14% vs. 1%) whereas women are much more likely to classify themselves as experts (41% vs. 14%).
  • Parents are also more likely to say that their knowledge and effectiveness is top-notch when it comes to laundry (34% vs. 25%).

While nearly one third (31%) boast that they have never ruined a piece of clothing because they weren't sure how to properly wash or care for it, over half (56%) say that it happens about once a year or less. Just 13% say that it happens "at least a few times per year".

  • Interestingly, though few men characterize themselves as laundry "experts", they are more likely than women to say that they have never ruined a piece of clothing because they weren't sure how to care for it (35% vs. 27%).
  • Those under 35 are most likely to say that they ruin several pieces of clothing per year (25%), while just 7% of those aged 55+ say the same.

Additionally, nearly a third (32%) say that at some point in time they have ruined one of their favourite outfits in the laundry because they just guessed about how to best treat it.

When it comes to stain removing skills, a plurality (41%) say that they usually guess and try different methods. Three in ten (29%) have come up with their own tips and tricks for getting out stains while 21% use old methods passed down from their mothers and grandmothers. Few (9%) are rarely able to remove stains and tend to consider clothing ruined once it is stained.

  • Women tend to be more creative in their stain removing, as they are more likely to say they come up with their own tricks (35%) while men are more likely to say that they can almost never remove stains (13%).
  • Parents (13%) and those with a household income of $60K+ (10%) are also more likely to give up on clothing once it's been stained.

Nearly half (45%) of Canadians agrees that they have not mastered the art of stain removal, and a quarter (25%) are even more critical of their stain removal skills, noting that they are clueless when it comes to getting stains out in the laundry.

Laundry Gripes...

When asked to rank various household chores, a plurality (38%) named outdoor maintenance and gardening as their favorite, followed buy grocery shopping (33%). Fewer selected making the bed (11%), doing the laundry (8%), the dishes (6%) and vacuuming (3%) as their favorite household chore.

  • Women (12%) are four times as likely as men (3%) to select laundry as their preferred household task.
  • In contrast, 13% rank laundry as their least favorite chore, though men (20%) and those aged 55+ (17%) are even more likely to rank laundry at the bottom of the list.

When doing laundry, Canadians are most likely to dislike removing tough stains from their family's clothing (78%), the number one complaint across demographic groups. A majority (50%) also says they have an aversion to doing a large volume of laundry all at once.

Other common gripes include trying to keep up with the amount of laundry (43%) and spending time in the laundry room or basement (41%). Fewer complain about dealing with their laundry machines (22%) or keeping their laundry supplies stocked (19%).

  • Men are more likely than women to dislike dealing with laundry machines (27% vs. 17%) and keeping all of their supplies stocked (23% vs. 14%).
  • Trying to keep up with the volume of laundry is a more common complaint among parents (57%) and those under 35 (50%).

The Volume of Laundry Adds Up...

On average, Canadians do over 4 loads of laundry per week, though half tend to do three loads or less per week. Fifteen percent of adults typically do only one load or less. In contrast, a third (33%) does at least five loads in a typical week, though this jumps to 48% among women. It is parents, however, that do the most laundry, averaging more than six loads per week.

Just one third (33%) of Canadians say their household spends more than $20 per week on laundry-related costs each month, including detergent, fabric softener, dry cleaning, stain-removal products, etc.

  • Those who are 55+ (46%), university graduates (44%) are among those most likely to spend $10 or less on laundry each month.
  • Given that they tend to do more laundry than others, it is understandable that parents tend to spend the most on laundry-related costs, as half (50%) say that they spend $20 or more per month.

Improving the Laundry Room...

Roughly four in ten Canadians agree that they enjoy doing laundry more if they had a nicer, newer laundry room (45%) or if they had nicer, newer laundry appliances (39%). Nearly half (48%) say that they wish they had ultra luxurious laundry room in my home, and some (18%) even admit that they are envious of a friend or neighbour's laundry room. Additionally, nearly four in ten (37%) agree that their washer and dryer need updating.

  • Women, adults under 35, and parents are among those most likely to agree that they would enjoy doing laundry if they improved their laundry rooms (52%, 55%, and 53%) respectively) or their laundry appliances (43%, 52%, and 46%, respectively).

It is no wonder then that more than four in ten (44%) Canadians say that, if they had $1,000 to spend, they would choose to buy new home appliances.

  • Among those most likely to choose new appliances are parents (47%) and those with a household income of less than $30K (50%).

New appliances narrowly beat out backyard or landscaping improvements (42%). Few would spend this money on a new wardrobe (8%) or valuable artwork or paintings (5%).

The Dirtiest Laundry Secrets...

Canadians confess to a variety of bad habits when it comes to doing their laundry, the most common being that "I let my laundry pile up until I have no clean underwear (30%). Nearly as many (27%) say that they "put everything in the drier, even if the label says not to. A quarter (24%) admits that they let their "clothes sit in the washer or dryer for days before putting them in the dryer or folding."

Fewer say that they do not know what any of the laundry labels mean and just guess (14%) and just 4% reveal that their mothers still do their laundry for them.

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of National PR/GE from August 27 to August 31, 2008. This online survey of 1,012 Canadian homeowners was conducted via the Ipsos I-Say Online Panel, Ipsos Reid's national online panel. The results are based on a sample where quota sampling and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a probability sample. An unweighted probability sample of this size, with a 100% response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, for the entire sample, and +/- 4.5%, 19 times out of 20, for the sample of homeowners.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Sean Simpson
Research Manager
Ipsos Reid
Public Affairs
(416) 572-4474
[email protected]

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Ipsos Reid is Canada's market intelligence leader, the country's leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos Reid employs more than 600 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in the country, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels. Ipsos Reid's marketing research and public affairs practices offer the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada, all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos Reid offers syndicated information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, retail, and technology & telecommunications. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

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