A safe home is one that's clean and clutter-free. But 1 in 3 Americans say they never clean their homes, and well over half neglect basic maintenance. Esurance is all about making home insurance simple, transparent, and affordable. One way we do that is by helping homeowners stay way ahead of the game. That said, find out how regular cleaning can save you a world of hassle — and money to boot.
Cleanliness is next to … impossible?
Picture your dream home. Most likely, you're imagining sparkling countertops, gleaming tile, and fresh paint. Because no one wants to live in a dirty home. No one intentionally leaves clutter to pile up. But let's face it: it's easy for things to get a little unruly without consistent upkeep. While everyone has a different level of mess tolerance, we can all probably agree that living in a dirty home isn't fun.
But did you know a clean, clutter-free home could also save you money and stress, plus help keep your home safe? Regular upkeep can help you avoid paying for expensive repairs and homeowners insurance claims that could spike your premium.
To better understand the link between home upkeep, saving money, and staying safe, we first wanted to find out how often people clean, declutter, and maintain their homes. So we polled 4,000 Americans ages 18 and up about their home-related habits.
Dusty disclosure: 36% never clean their home even on a surface level
First, we asked people how often they (or someone they hire) perform a surface-level clean — we're talking basic tasks like wiping down counters, cleaning the shower, and vacuuming. About a third of respondents weren't too keen on cleaning, admitting that they never do even a once-over of their home.
Next, we asked the same question, but for deep cleaning tasks such as removing couch cushions, cleaning appliances, and getting behind furniture. And even more respondents admitted to ignoring these chores. A full 41% responded "never."
As it turns out, our homes may be dirtier than we'd expect. According to a study from the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community
at Simmons University, the average bathtub harbors more bacteria than a public garbage can. And your shower floor? It's harboring up to 67x more bacteria than your toilet seat
Collecting clutter: 22% never tidy up
A clean house is one part of the equation, but clutter matters too. Sparkling countertops aren't so impressive if they're littered with unopened mail and spare keys. According to a recent survey, 46% of people report clutter being the first thing they notice about a house.
Surprisingly, 22% of respondents admitted to never decluttering their home, including regularly putting things away. Even in the wake of Marie Kondo, almost 1 in 4 Americans just aren't tidying up.
If you live in an apartment or small space, decluttering can be especially tricky. Check out some space-saving tips to make decluttering surprisingly painless.
Missing maintenance: 60% never take care of these common home upkeep tasks
Cleaning and upkeep should go beyond interior surfaces. There are many areas of your house that need to be regularly maintained to avoid having an accident or potentially having to pay a lot of money in repairs later down the road. Common tasks include cleaning the dryer vent, changing the air filters, cleaning the gutters, covering pipes in the winter, and draining the water heater every year or so.
It's easy to forget about these things until it's too late. When we asked people how often they take care of these tasks, 60% admitted that they never do.
A safe home is one that's neat and well-maintained
Last year, the average American spent almost $5,000 in repairs and improvements, many of which likely could have been avoided with proper maintenance and care. Here are some tips to keep your home in tip-top shape and decrease your chances of having to file a homeowners insurance claim:
Clean the dryer vent regularly to avoid a fire hazard. Approximately 16,000 home fires involve clothes dryers every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Lint builds up in both the lint trap and the dryer vent, which, when clogged, can combust and start a fire. Clean both regularly, don't leave a dryer running when no one is home, and keep a fire extinguisher in the laundry room.
Drain the water heater about once a year. Over time, sludge and sediment accumulate at the bottom of the tank, so flushing it out helps prevent leaks and extends the life of your water heater.
Clear out the gutters to ensure water flows the way it should. Ignoring this can cause water to pool in areas around the house, causing mold, mildew, and rot. If you have tall trees covering your home, your gutters will likely fill up with leaves and other debris pretty quickly. You'll want to clear them out every few months to avoid structural damage to your home, especially if you live in a rainy environment.
Inspect your roof while you're up on that ladder cleaning your gutters. Sweep away leaves or dirt and consider putting zinc strips on the roof to prevent damaging algae growth. Also check for signs of wear and damage, especially around pipes or the chimney. Make sure flashing — the weatherproof material that seals the roof — is in good condition.
Change the air filter to avoid overworking your air conditioner. How often you need to do this depends on the type of filter you have. Most filters should be swapped out every 30 days or so. Set a reminder on your phone so you never forget. Easy.
- Cover the pipes in the winter. When pipes freeze, the water inside them expands and can potentially lead to a busted or cracked pipe. Since plumbing repairs can be expensive, you'll want to make sure you keep pipes warm by draining outdoor supply lines, wrapping any exposed pipes with heat tape, leaving cabinet doors open to expose them to your home's heat, and letting faucets drip during particularly hard freezes.
In case the satisfaction of a clean and tidy home isn't motivation enough, a safe home means it's less likely that you'll have to file a home insurance claim. While you clean, make a habit of performing the above tasks to eliminate hazardous risks and help prevent any potential damages.
At Esurance, we're here to help homeowners recover when something goes wrong. But we're also a big fan of making sure that avoidable problems are … well, avoided. Basic cleaning and maintenance are great preventative steps that could save you a world of expense and hassle. So keep these tips in mind for maintaining a clean and claim-free home. And while you're at it, make sure your homeowners insurance is spiffy too. Check out our home insurance calculator to help you figure out which coverages and limits are right for you. And get a homeowners quote today to see how surprisingly painless insurance can be.
Methodology: This study consisted of four survey questions conducted using Google Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,000 completed responses per question. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. The survey ran during October, 2019.
Sources: Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons College | National Association for Professional Organizers | Porch 2018 Home Improvement Year End Review | National Fire Protection Association | SafeHome.org | USA Today | OfferUp 2019 Spring Cleaning Report
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