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Family Groups - Mothers

The women who think housework is better than sex
From The Times
April 24, 2006

THE average British woman spends more than 16 hours a week cleaning her home, a regime that “makes her feel in control of her life”, according to a survey. She devotes 2hr 23min each day to cleaning, compared with 52min a day on her personal appearance.

Of the 2,000 women questioned, 6 out of 10 said that cleaning “made them feel in control of their life” and the same proportion found cleaning “mentally therapeutic”.

Three quarters of the women surveyed kept up this regime of cleaning despite being in full or part-time work.

Only 22 per cent of respondents enjoyed the process, but 64 per cent found happiness in the results of their labours.

Nearly half admitted some sort of addiction to cleaning; a similar proportion wished that they could cut down, and 4 in 10 said that they were “no longer in control of their cleaning habits”. A third said that they found more satisfaction in cleaning than in sex.

According to 76 per cent of respondents, spotless interiors in magazines were to blame for the compulsion to clean.

While 80 per cent compared the cleanliness of other homes with their own, 6 out of 10 mothers thought that a messy house would lead visitors to believe they were a “bad mother”.

The National Housework Survey of Great Britain 2006 was commissioned by the Discovery Home and Health channel, which begins screening Cleanaholics today, following 27 women and three men as they plough through their chores.

Gloria Bragg, 55, from Plymouth, gets up before 7am to clean. “It keeps me fit,” she said.

Marriage to a Royal Navy submariner further encouraged the habit of a spotless house. “Being a Navy man, he checks on my progress,” she said. Her routine includes washing three crystal chandeliers in vinegar — “half an hour each on a Sunday morning” — done to Frank Sinatra, Eva Cassidy or the theme music to the Winter Olympics.

Graham Peters, 40, of Dorking, one of the minority of superclean men (about one in ten), says he wishes he could cut down on his cleaning habit. “I’ve always been tidy,” he said, “but if I got a young female to clean for me, I would give up tomorrow.”

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