Chores are a chore
It might be difficult to find somebody who actually likes doing chores. After a long day at work or on a lazy Sunday morning, the last thing we want to do is clean our house. To explore chore duties on a larger scale, we surveyed 1,020 Americans on their outlook regarding various chore-related concepts. We'll look in-depth at the chores people despise the most, how children get involved with them, chore outsourcing and other topics that will provide an extensive overview of the household task landscape. Gender differences and marital status will also be evaluated – while the gap isn't as glaring as it used to be, women still tend to be more involved in housework duties than men are. Keep reading for more insights from our study.
What respondents looked forward to doing the least was cleaning their toilets. Interestingly, 48.3% of single men disliked it, whereas only 37.2% of married men took issue with the task. The second and third most hated chores were removing hair from drains and cleaning the bathroom, respectively. All three of these chores are bathroom-related – and while people may hate tending to them, Americans clean their main bathroom, on average, seven times a month.
Just over 28% of respondents weren't fond of doing laundry. Only 19% percent of baby boomers disliked it, compared to 37.1% of millennials. Additionally, 21.8% of people hated cleaning up after their pets, and 1 in 3 parents were in specific agreement of this.
Avoiding at all costs
While some attempted to sabotage their chore responsibility, 52.7% of respondents decided to put them off altogether. In this case, cleaning the bathroom was avoided the most, according to 21.8% of people. In fact, 4 of the top 5 most consciously delayed chores revolved around cleaning – aside from the bathroom, they included the fridge (21.3%), oven (20.2%) and toilet (20.1%).
A lot of research has been conducted that takes a closer look at the reasons why we put off undesirable activities, such as chores. One social psychologist and psychology professor at Florida State University mentions a theory called "decision fatigue" as a reason for how bad habits can stem from chore duty. For example, someone sitting at work all day can endure a lot of mental strain and therefore won't want to deal with what they believe is an arduous task, in this case chores, when they come home.
However, chores can be boring, which is why 76.6% of respondents listened to music while doing them. This was by far the most popular boredom-curbing choice, as the next most popular option, at 32%, was watching a movie or television. Over a quarter of people would also listen to podcasts, use chores as a method of working out or reward themselves upon completion.
A closer look
Nobody likes chores, which is why 28.8% of parents had their kids do the ones they had no interest in doing themselves. Chores can be very beneficial for kids anyway, though. For example, they can develop life skills due to their heightened sense of responsibility as well as a boost to their self-esteem by completing household tasks.
Some people preferred to stay regimented with their chores – 32.9% of respondents followed some sort of chore schedule. This was especially true for people who had one or two kids; they were about twice as likely to have a routine than people with either no kids or three of them. Married people were also more likely to have a schedule than single respondents.
Just over one-fifth of respondents admitted to doing a chore poorly to avoid having to do it again in the future. When comparing married and single women and men, married ones admitted to using this tactic more, whereas single people used it much less. One potential reason for this difference between single and married people could be that married individuals no longer feel the need to impress their partner, while singles more often live alone. When looking at differences between married men and women, it is striking that married men were more likely to do chores badly on purpose. With women overall already taking on more of the housework, one can only hope that married men do not get away with doing chores to avoid them in the future.
Regarding the frequency of performing different chores, the most likely interval for changing bed sheets, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the toilet and vacuuming was once per week. The second most likely choice was once every other week, then once a month. Less than 10% of respondents claimed to perform any of these chores daily or waiting longer than six months to do them. It is recommended that bathrooms and toilets are cleaned once a week at least. Sheets should also be changed weekly, and vacuuming should be a weekly chore as well, although it might be needed more often if pets are in the house.
When analyzing the tendencies of men and women, some intriguing findings arose. Twenty percent of women changed their sheets once a month or less often, compared to 25% of men. Both single and married men cleaned their bathroom and toilet, respectively, less frequently than women did. And married men also vacuumed at a higher rate than single men. Vacuuming was the chore done most on a daily basis, and it comes with its benefits – aside from providing general health hygiene, it is also good exercise!
When asked about the distribution of chores, 47.9% of respondents believed the work was divided equally – almost 58% of men were in agreement, as opposed to a much lower 38.4% of women. Also, while 30% of respondents felt they personally did the majority of the chores, 43.2% of women felt that they did the majority of chores, compared to just over 16% of men.
Similar sentiments remained for married men and women – more men believed the work was distributed fairly, whereas women did not. While men do contribute to household labor tasks, a significant gap still remains. In the U.S., women spend around four hours a day doing unpaid work (i.e., chores), compared to 2.5 hours for men. Clearly, women have every right to believe they are still doing the majority of household chores.
Since the pandemic started, 52% of respondents said they had dedicated more time to doing chores. It is thus not surprising that many people outsourced their chores to professionals. The most common service used was gardening – 46.5% of respondents hired a gardener to tend to their lawn, while 44.2% of them had groceries delivered to their home. Additionally, more than a quarter of respondents used a personal chef, potentially as an alternative to visiting restaurants during the pandemic.
Another option to help alleviate the burden of chores in the future could come from gadgets conceived by artificial intelligence. We asked GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3), an AI that can answer questions, write poems and translate languages or, in this case, suggest tools to lessen the burden of chores, to come up with the best chore helpers of the future. From this list of gadgets, respondents chose their favorite, and self-cleaning toilets were the most desired by far. It seems that people can already get their hands on this kind of technology, though. For example, American Standard recently developed a new toilet called the ActiClean, which has self-cleaning properties. By the push of a button, a liquid cleaner solution swirls around the bowl and thoroughly cleans the surface. Similar to a washing machine, you can choose between multiple cleaning options.
Respondents had already begun taking advantage of chore-related technological advancements – 1 in 5 of them owned a robot vacuum, and 13% utilized an automatic lawn mower.
What's in store for chores
As we know, people dread chores, so much so that they strategize different ways of getting out of them. For example, people will purposefully do a bad job in order to avoid tackling the task again in the future. Also, parents often delegate tasks to their children to lighten their load, which is beneficial for their development anyway.
As artificial intelligence becomes more prevalent in our day-to-day life, products are continually being developed to lessen the burden of our chores. People have wish lists of AI-powered machinery that would make our life easier, and some products, like ActiClean, have already been created to ease our routine. That said, sometimes, a robot just can't be trusted as much as a licensed professional to keep your house in check. The dedicated workers over at Cinch Home Services have got all your bases covered. For a quick appliance fix or a long-term protection plan, head over to their website now to make chore duties and house maintenance a little less stressful.
Methodology and limitations
This study uses data from a survey of 1,020 people located in the U.S. Survey respondents were gathered through the Amazon Mechanical Turk survey platform where they were presented with a series of questions, including attention-check and disqualification questions. 46.8% of respondents identified as male, while 53.2% identified as female. Respondents ranged in age from 19 to 77 with an average age of 40. Participants incorrectly answering any attention-check question had their answers disqualified.
Please note that survey responses are self-reported and are subject to issues, such as exaggeration, recency bias, and telescoping.
Fair use statement
If you know somebody who hates chores just as much as you do, feel free to share this article with them. We only ask that you do so for noncommercial use and that a link is provided back to the main page so our contributors can earn credit for their work!