Post-COVID-19, household cleaning habits are worse in 2023 than 2022 - study

The Dyson Global Dust Study 2023 has found 50 percent of people are not regularly cleaning behind the toilet.
Photo credit: Getty Images

A new study has found that as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are becoming less disciplined when it comes to regular cleaning - and some places we're admitting to not washing makes for fairly gross reading.

The research also found people are getting more reactive than proactive when it comes to keeping their homes clean, despite the health risks of invisible germs and pollutants.

The Dyson Global Dust Study 2023 surveyed 33,997 people around the world and found a shocking 50 percent admit to not regularly cleaning behind the toilet. For such a germ-prone area, that's a concerning statistic.

Less than half of the respondents (41 percent) said they have a regular cleaning schedule, which is 15 percent lower than last year.

Additionally, despite the rate of dust mite allergies and increasing awareness of air quality, 43 percent of respondents admitted to not cleaning under their beds regularly, while 52 percent said they don't clean their mattress routinely.

The research found 60 percent of people are now only cleaning when they see visible dirt or dust, which means they're ignoring the invisible nasties polluting our indoor environments. That proportion has grown since 2022, when 40 percent of respondents said they only clean because they see dirt or dust.

"The COVID-19 pandemic emphasised the need for regular cleaning to maintain healthy homes," said Monika Stuczen, a research scientist in microbiology at Dyson.

"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 bacteria, house dust mite faeces and pollen - are microscopic in size and not visible to the naked eye."

Statistics from the Dyson Global Dust Study 2023.
Photo credit: Dyson

According to Asthma New Zealand, Aotearoa has the second highest rate of asthma in the world - more than 700,000 Kiwis live with asthma and respiratory illness. Respiratory disease also accounts for 10 percent of all hospital stays in the country and is the third leading cause of death.

"We know one in eight Kiwis have asthma - one in eight children have asthma in New Zealand," said James Moore of Dyson NZ.

"So being able to deal with dust ansd being able to deal with some of those nasties in the home that cause breathing difficulties is key for a lot of Kiwis."

A Dyson household dust lab with scientists Monika Stuzcen and Matthew Lee.
A Dyson household dust lab with scientists Monika Stuzcen and Matthew Lee. Photo credit: Dyson

The study also found 51 percent of people miss cleaning under their couch and 56 percent avoid cleaning behind it, areas where dust can easily build up.

If you have a family member with a dust mite allergy, the Allergy & Asthma Network suggests vacuuming regularly with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter or bag, covering bedding with dust-mite-proof encasings, washing all of your bed linens weekly in hot water, replacing dust collectors like carpets, drapes and upholstered furniture with washable floors and furnishings, and keeping dolls and toys to a minimum in the bedroom.

If someone you care for has asthma and is not living well because of it, you can call 0800 227 328 to arrange for an Asthma NZ Nurse to provide education and support.