And these days, products from toiletries to household cleaners are selling like hotcakes, making molysmophobia (more commonly know as germaphobia) more expensive than ever.
Bloomberg points out the ways that quest for cleanliness is costing you, in three main categories:
1. Your Morning Routine
Your pre-work ritual could be more expensive than you think. The average American uses a whopping 100 gallons of water per day, and even a 5-minute shower can drain between 10 and 25 gallons. In pricier cities where water heating costs are higher, like Boston, monthly water-heating costs for a family of four can hit up to $65.47.
Sales of soap, bath and shower products hit $5 billion in 2012, up by an astounding 25% since 2007. Shampoo is a $7 billion-a-year industry, and if you use a luxury salon brand—which can cost upwards of $50 per bottle—you could be watching your money go down the drain with the soap bubbles.
Though deodorant sales have remained steady over the same time period, consumers concerned about their offending odor are spending more for clinical-strength products that promise 24-hour protection. And in bad news for bad breath, dental hygiene-conscious Americans spend a grand total of $6.4 billion for toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash per year.
2. Household Cleaning Supplies
A sparkly, shiny home doesn’t come free, either. Sales of household cleaning products tallied $4.7 billion in 2012, though laundry detergent sales have stayed pretty consistent. But more consumers are using pod and pocket laundry products, and there’s a potential area of growth in more eco-friendly options. Overall, Americans spent $6.3 billion on detergent in 2012.
Paper products also remain popular, with Americans shelling out $8.4 billion for toilet paper and $4.8 billion for paper towels over the past year. And did you know that the average American produced 4.43 pounds of trash per day in 2010? That added up to a hefty 250 million tons of trash nationwide.
Helping combat the smell of all that trash are the $2.5 billion worth of air fresheners bought over the past year.
3. Sanitizers and Purifiers
Purell is more popular than ever, as sales of hand sanitizer have increased by 8% over the last year. The increased interest in squashing germs may be due to recent concerns over various flu viruses that have struck over the past few seasons.
In a quest to rid their lives of toxins, Americans also invest in air purifiers. While a top-rated purifier will set you back $899, it may not be worth your money—research has shown that the devices can produce ozone and actually negatively affect asthma patients. Water purifiers have also garnered $375 million in sales over the past year. According to one study, the popular Brita brand took out 49%-60% of contaminants, while ZeroWater removed 73% to 95%.
For the roughly 2 million adults in the U.S. who have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the need to clean comes at a more serious expense. In addition to the psychological costs, treating the disorder doesn’t come cheap—at HealthWarehouse.com, one Prozac pill costs 12 cents.
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