The American Cleaning Institute (ACI)

ACI Survey: Parents Concentrate on Cleaning in the Midst of Cold and Flu Season

  • More than Half of Americans Reporting an Increase in Cleaning Behaviors are Parents
  • Findings Support Continued “Cleaning is Caring” Trend to Protect Loved Ones Through Proper Cleaning and Hygiene Practices
  • Read the Survey Results

New data from the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) finds a majority of parents report they will clean more through this year’s cold and flu season based on what they’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, 16-percentage points higher than non-parents.

In what many health experts are referring to as an anticipated “bounce back” flu season, findings from an online survey conducted by Ipsos, on behalf of ACI, found that while 40% of adults are likely to increase their cleaning habits ahead of cold and flu season, this number rises to more than half among respondents that have children in the home.

In a worst-case scenario, experts estimate a potential 300,000 to 400,000 extra hospitalizations from the flu this year (medRxiv), potentially due to an underexposed population last year combined with less COVID-19 restrictions this year. Children, who are back to in-person schooling amid the ongoing pandemic, may have less immunity to colds and flu compared to those with a lifetime of exposure and could be especially vulnerable. This is why it is critical for parents to prepare for cold and flu season through proper cleaning and hygiene practices.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer perception of cleaning has shifted from just a chore to a critical factor for protecting themselves and others from illness. New ACI data suggests the shift in cleaning perceptions and behavior is continuing, with 86% of adults reporting they will either increase their cleaning habits or maintain the adopted cleaning routine started as a result of the pandemic. More than three-quarters of survey respondents are also likely to continue key hygiene behaviors over the next 6 months, like proper handwashing and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

“As many continue their ‘return to normal’ with in-person activities and increased travel in the midst of a potentially troublesome cold and flu season, now is a critical time to understand and implement the proven practices that help prevent the spread of easily transmittable germs and illness,” said Brian Sansoni, ACI Senior Vice President, Communications and Outreach. “Today, cleaning and washing your hands with soap and water are critical steps to protect our health and the ones we love.”

Some key cleaning and hygiene steps to take this cold and flu season include:

  1. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to help prevent the spread of germs.
  2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    • Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
    • Cough or sneeze into your elbow if you don’t have a tissue.
  3. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
    • If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer as an alternative. Be sure to use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  4. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces (door handles, light switches, countertops).
  5. Avoid contact with sick people.
  6. If you get sick, stay home from work or school except to seek medical care and limit contact with others.

ACI provides cleaning and hygiene resources for consumers in all professions and walks of life, from the K-12 school community and child care facilities to college students and small business owners.

To find available resources, visit

The American Cleaning Institute® (ACI – is the Home of the U.S. Cleaning Products Industry® and represents the $60 billion U.S. cleaning product supply chain. ACI members include the manufacturers and formulators of soaps, detergents, and general cleaning products used in household, commercial, industrial and institutional settings; companies that supply ingredients and finished packaging for these products; and chemical distributors. ACI serves the growth and innovation of the U.S. cleaning products industry by advancing the health and quality of life of people and protecting our planet. ACI achieves this through a continuous commitment to sound science and being a credible voice for the cleaning products industry.

These findings emerged from an Ipsos poll conducted September 07 – 08, 2021, on behalf of the American Cleaning Institute. For the survey, a sample of 1,004 adults age 18 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll as a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents.