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February 2003 SDA National Cleaning Survey

For Valentine's Day, SDA Advises Couples to Spread Love, Not Germs

Women and Men Reveal Their Heart-Felt Attitudes on Hygiene and Cleanliness

Washington, DC - February 7, 2003 - According to research conducted on behalf of The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA), nearly half (46%) of Americans are more concerned about personal hygiene and cleanliness than in years past. So, as Valentine's Day falls in the heart of cold and flu season, the SDA provides advice for the millions of Americans who plan to hold hands, kiss their sweetheart or spend time at home.

"Valentine's Day is the perfect time to remind ourselves how to prevent germs from spreading from person to person," said SDA Vice President of Communication Brian Sansoni. "As we set the scene for romance, the words 'get fresh' take on a whole new meaning."

Hand Holding 101

According to SDA research, 45 percent of Americans are washing their hands more than in years past to better maintain their personal cleanliness. That's good news for holiday hand-holders, because hand washing is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of the most important means of preventing germs from spreading. SDA reminds Americans of the proper way to wash up.

  1. Wet hands and apply liquid, bar or powder soap.
  2. Rub hands together vigorously, and scrub all surfaces.
  3. Continue for 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse well under running water.
  5. Dry hands using a paper towel or air dryer.
  6. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.

If soap and water are not available, consider wipes or gel formulas to clean your hands.

"Spread love, not germs," said Sansoni, "and you'll live happier, healthier lives together."

Keeping it Clean in the Bedroom

When asked which are the most romantic rooms in their house, not surprisingly, Americans ranked the bedroom number one, followed by the living room. The SDA ( offers some tips for cleaning and protecting your Valentine's Day domain.

  • For lipstick stains, remove the stain by scraping it with a dull knife. Shake off any residue. Pre-treat it with a liquid laundry detergent, then wash in warm water, then dry. If the stain remains, repeat the procedure. Use chlorine bleach in the wash, if safe for the fabric.
  • Chocolate stains should be pre-treated with a prewash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent or a paste of granular laundry detergent and water. Launder the item in warm water; if the stain remains, rewash using a bleach that is safe for the fabric.
  • Cleaning up your loved one's picture? Spray glass cleaners on a cloth instead of directly on the picture.
  • Natural body oils can soften a wood finish and eventually wear it away, especially in areas that are used constantly, such as chair arms and the areas around drawer and door pulls. Regular cleaning and polishing will remove these soils and help prolong the life of wood finishes.

Give the Gift of Clean

Women and men also were asked, if for Valentine's Day, their significant other volunteered to do one household chore all year long, which would they prefer to have done for them by their loved one? Both sexes clearly ranked "do the dishes" as their top choice. Women, who according the research, still do the majority of the house cleaning, ranked "cleaning the bathrooms" and "dust and vacuum" as other options. Men who do more housework (7% of households) would have their spouse "do the laundry" or "wash the car" all year.

"If you're looking for a Valentine's gift that keeps on giving, be a saint and give your sweetheart a year's worth of help in the kitchen," said Sansoni. "Who knows, she might wash your car in return."

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The Soap and Detergent Association ( is the non-profit trade association representing over 100 manufacturers of household, industrial, and institutional cleaning products; their ingredients; and finished packaging. SDA members produce more than 90% of the cleaning products marketed in the U.S. The SDA is located at 1500 K Street, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005.

The research was conducted by International Communications Research in Media, Pennsylvania. One thousand women and men were surveyed, with a margin of error of +/- 2.8%.