Worst chore ever? Two-thirds of young adults ‘dread’ doing laundry

NEW YORK — Is cleaning your clothes actually a bad thing? Two in three young Americans avoid wearing their favorite clothes because they don’t want to ruin them in the wash.

A new poll found that 66 percent of respondents limit how often they wear some of their best outfits out of fear the washing machine will wreck them.

The survey conducted in February 2022 looked at how 2,000 millennials and Gen Zers do their laundry. Sixty-nine percent are convinced they know how to do laundry correctly, although there’s a slight difference in opinion when it comes to separating clothes.

What’s the right way to do the wash?

Many believe the right way to separate laundry is by white and colors (29%), while 26 percent insist that light and dark is the way to go — and 22 percent do both.

What both generations can agree on is using dryer sheets, since three in four think they’re must-haves to reduce static. Over half say delicate bags are necessary for protecting clothes against harsh washer and dryer settings (55%). Most young laundry-doers rely on fabric softener to keep their clothes soft and wrinkle-free (68%), and another 60 percent add in-wash scent boosters for extra freshness.

Conducted by OnePoll in partnership with Swash Laundry Detergent, the survey also reveals that 65 percent of millennials and Gen Zers believe laundry is a skill that people need to teach and learn. About two in five credit their parents or older relatives for showing them the ropes (42%).

Another 23 percent learned by experimenting on their own and nearly a fifth of respondents learned from looking at social media tips and tutorials (19%) – finding YouTube (43%) and Instagram (38%) to be the most helpful.


Laundry detergent dos and don’ts

Despite having those resources, plenty of young adults admit to having their fair share of laundry fails, like forgetting their laundry in the washer or dryer (45%) or leaving items in their pockets (44%). Forty percent have over-filled their laundry machines with clothes and 29 percent have put in too much detergent.

Although 68 percent claim they know how much detergent to use for their laundry, more than half of respondents incorrectly think that using more means cleaner clothes (57%). In fact, adding more detergent can actually create more laundry-day headaches. Seven in 10 see white residue on their clothes after doing laundry as a result of using too much detergent (71%).

“Using more detergent than you need can leave residues on clothing, visually fade colors, and attract more dirt,” says Joseph Beairsto, senior brand and product marketing manager for Swash Laundry Detergent, in a statement. “Using the right amount of the right detergent can save you time and effort, plus help clean and protect your belongings.”

Why is laundry such a drag?

Although laundry is a necessary task, most people dread doing it (68%). Young adults say the biggest reasons are it’s time-consuming (52%) or they dislike a specific part of the process, like loading the machine or folding (50%).

Two in five also think laundry is easy to mess up and 43 percent add that laundry can be bothersome because it needs to be done an average of three times a week. Still, 59 percent see laundry as a way for them to destress and most think they would be even more willing to do their laundry if there were easy fixes to some of the challenges (68%).

Just 26 percent of all respondents were able to correctly identify the symbol for “machine wash permanent press” and “do not dry clean.” Similarly, just a quarter of people knew the symbol for “do not dry” (24%), while a few more accurately identified “dry on low heat” (29%) and “bleach” (28%).

“Understanding the various laundry symbols will help reduce your chances of shrinking or damaging your clothes,” Beairsto says. “To take the best care of your belongings, always follow the instructions on an item’s label and choose laundry detergent products designed to help properly maintain your clothes.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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