GENERAL ARTICLES

The COST of Keeping Clean

GRANT DEXTER March 1 1933
GENERAL ARTICLES

The COST of Keeping Clean

GRANT DEXTER March 1 1933

The COST of Keeping Clean

GRANT DEXTER

WE SPEND a lot of money trying to keep clean.

Living on a planet whose surface is chiefly mud, it would look like good business, particularly in times like these, to stop attempting the impossible, to cease trying to separate ourselves from dirt.

Certainly we would save plenty of money. The effect upon unemployment, of course, would not be so g We spend $70,(XX),000 a year on articles essential to cleanliness. We sjx'nd many more millions on services and fuel essential to cleanliness.

Nowhere is there an equally small surface upon` which so much money is expended for scrubbing and polishing as the teeth.

Considering capital costs, probably no nxirn in your home costs you as much money as your bath`room.

The next time you (grumble about your taxes, remember that much of them go for sewers, water mains, clean streets and other expenditures in the campaign against dirt.

Even so, you will be surprised to learn that the “keep clean” industry, while it spends millions in advertising and in sales promotion, hasn't really begun to make an impression on the bulk of our population. Production could be doubled and trebled without bringing consumption up to what you believe the average in this country.

Last year there were 785,592 toothbrushes sold in Canada. Earlier years bear about the same relationship to population. This kxks as if the average Canadian buys a toothbrush once in twelve years; say five in a lifetime. What it actually means, of course, is that a large part of the population doesn’t use toothbrushes at all which, no doubt, accounts for the fact that very few dentists are laying up their motor cars or appearing in bread lines.

The battle against dirt is not waged evenly along the home front. There are 2,501.890 homes in this country, of which 1,222.220 are in the country and 1,279,670 in the cities. The urbanite spends more in keeping clean because he has mere lighting equipment ready to hand—electricity, laundries, drycleaners and so forth. The ruralite is not concerned with sewerage, waterworks, street cleaning.

If you live in a city and wxmder how much of your hard-earned cash gets away from you because you want to keep clean, take a piece of paper and put down these figures.

The High Cost of Lather

THE is soap. MOST If all important the soap weapon manufactured in the anti-dirt in or imported armory into Canada last year were divided among the 10,374,196 Canadians, each of them would get forty-nine cakes of laundry soap, eleven cakes of toilet soap; two pounds of soapflakes, powders, liquid or soft soaps. Obviously most of us use a great deal more than our share. Now there isn’t any shortage of soap, but a great many Canadians still manage to get along comfortably without using it. That, of course, is a problem for the soap makers.

In an ordinary family, if one cake of toilet soap survives a month it should be a case for congratulations all round. Likewise, one family wash will effectively put an end to a cake of laundry soap or its equivalent.

A careful estimate, erring on the side of economy, would place your annual expenditure on laundry soap at $2.94; on toilet soap $1.32; powders, flakes, etc., thirty cents. Your total soap item, therefore, adds to $4.56. In addition there are 78,8-10 pounds of laundry blue sold in Canada every year, not to mention borax and other aids to washing. These probably don’t average more than ten cents.

Then you have an arsenal of electrical equipment. There are some 350,000 vacuum cleaners in Canada. About 70.000 are sold each year. Having regard to the capital cost, the upkeep, which isn’t too high if amateur repairing is avoided, and the cost of electricity—twenty cents per month for average use your vacuum cleaner sets you back not less than ten dollars per year.

Washing machines come higher. There are nearly 500.000 washing machines in use in this country, some 80,000 being sold last year; and, considering depreciation, power costs, interest on investment and so forth, a machine sets you back sixteen dollars per year.

The rest of the electrical equipment is less costly to buy. Your electric iron—138.051 sold last year, and at least 750.000 in use today—costs you $5.90. The cost of heating an iron is greater than the cost of operating an electric motor, so that the running expenses here are somewhat higher than with a washing machine or a vacuum cleaner.

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Then you have your equipment for the eradication of insects—fly swatters, insecticides. fly paper and so forth. The minimum I cost, in homes where an effort is made to deal with this form of uncleanness, is fifty cents per year.

The average life of a broom in a Canadian home is eight months. Last year 3,467,180 brooms were sold. The annual cost to you is seventy cents. You spend at least sixty cents on various brushes used in your campaign against dirt.

Another small but essential item is polish used to shine things up about the house. Bulking floor wax, furniture, brass, silver and stove polish together, the total expenditure last year was $2,501,691. Your share is one dollar per year.

The last item in this class of equipment includes carpet sweepers, mops, oil mops, etc., which cost, on the average $2.50 per year.

The cloth apron still outsells the rubber variety, and total sales of both last year ran to $398,344. The cost to you was not less than sixty cents.

The sale of gloves in Canada is colossal. Last year, excluding practically all leather gloves. 9,043,612 pairs were bought. It is reasonable to suppose that one pair of cloth

gloves is used each year about the average home -cost fifty cents.

The War on Whiskers

ONE OF THE larger items in the cleanliness budget is shaving. There can scarcely be any question of the propriety of including this item in the list. In Canada. 3,092,253 males must either shave or grow whiskers. It is a fact that whiskers, on the average, will grow 5}^ inches in a year. To keep Jack Canuck’s face clean costs money. Last year $920,976 went for shaving soaps and creams. That works out at about thirty cents apiece. Of course, large numbers of Canadians use ordinary soap. There is still plenty of room for expansion in the shaving soap industry. Sales of razors totalled 810,830 and the cost was approximately $380,000. The total purchase of razor blades was 15,600,301, which is about five blades per head. The answer must be that the straight razor is still popular in some districts. Averaging things up, an item of ten dollars per year does not seem too much.

The corresponding expense for your wife and daughters is in ten items—perfumes, toilet waters, cologne water and lotions, creams, face powders, talc powders, sachet powders, lipstick, compacts, other cosmetics. The so-called cosmetic urge ran to $13,306,386 last year. There are 2,862.587 females in Canada over ten years of age— the dividing line, chosen somewhat arbitrarilv—so the cost, per capita, approximates $4.64. The average home certainly spends $9.28 to beautify the person of its chatelaine and her daughters.

Just in case you are interested, the largest item is for face creams, $1,834,492. Next comes face powder, $1,449,260. Perfumes are third and talc powders fourth. The lipstick, notwithstanding all that is said about it, has not yet come into general use. Expenditures last year were only $133,764.

As for toothbrushes, as stated, the total sales last year were but 785,592 and the cost $212,767. If we all use toothbrushes, then they are lasting on an average twelve years. As for toothpaste, the total purchases ran to $1,598,349, which works out at one tube per person every eighteen months. But the cost of toothbrushes to you was certainly not less than fifty cents, and of toothpaste a dollar, or $1.50 in all.

Toilet brushes are a mere bagatelle. Total sales were 811,356 brushes and the cost $354,379. An item of ten cents covers the average.

Shoe shining is another item. Last year $620,218 of shoe polish was sold, which works out at a little better than five cents a head of population. Many people, of course, prefer to wear their shoes “straight;” others, particularly the wee folk, don’t wear shoes at all. But those who do and keep them shined, pay on the average $2.50 per year for their cleanliness and vanity.

. Going down cellar, we find the electric or gas heater. These were sold last year to the number of 32,057, worth $392,727. Estimating the cost to you on the basis of depreciation and repairs, because the expense of heating water will be dealt with later, the heater in the average home comes to a dollar per year.

Textiles are an essential in the business of cleanliness. Industries in Canada, as in every civilized country, are founded upon this human need. There are the various kinds of towels, table linen and handkerchiefs. Last year 47,533,143 towels and 2,506,532 face cloths were sold. This means that the 2,501,000 dwelling houses of Canada were entitled on the average to twentythree towels apiece. The catch in it is the paper towel, which is in wide use in urban communities, and, further, the substantial purchases of textile towels by hotels, railways and clubs. Paper towels sold last year ran to $500,000. Making every allowance, the average Canadian family buys four towels, hand and bath, and two face cloths per year. Only 303,900 fully manufactured dish towels were sold, but many housewives prefer to make their own. It is estimated that the average householder buys ten dish towels per year. The cost works out at three dollars for hand and bath towels, fifty cents for paper towels, thirty cents for face cloths, and three dollars for dish towels—a total of $6.80.

The cost of table linen naturally varies widely, but few families get by without an expenditure of ten dollars per year.

Only Two Hankies Per Nose

“THE FACTS with regard to handkerchiefs I are interesting. Last year 16,853,792 hankies were spread around among more than 10,000,000 people, which is less than two per head. This should be good news to the handkerchief industry. Obviously there is room for increased sales, because vast

numbers of Canadians don’t use handkerchiefs. The annual cost to you is placed conservatively at a dollar.

All this linen requires laundering, and the mushroom growth of the laundry business affords ample proof that most housewives don't attempt to wash their own towels and table linen. Last year our laundries did a business of $15,120,782, which works out at $1.50 per head. Country people, of course, don’t patronize laundries; this runs the expense of the average urban household up to twenty dollars.

For the reason that people are not sensible enough to wear washable clothes, the dry cleaning industry is another drain on your pocket book. Dry cleaners, last year, netted $3,431,000 which, spread over the 1.279,670 urban homes works out at a trifle under three dollars each. Obviously, many homes never call in the dry cleaner, and a charge of ten dollars per year is not excessive to the average urban householder. Of course this also covers clothes pressing.

But the largest item in the whole bill of cleanliness is your bathroom. The whole purpose of the bathroom is to enable you to keep clean. The capital cost of the room in itself is a very large item. In addition, there are the fixtures. Last year $487,373, manufacturers’ price, was spent on bathtubs, and slightly more than that on toilets and other fixtures, or in round figures $1,000,000. In the average home the bathroom—capital cost and fixtures—runs to $75. per year at least.

A somewhat similar item is sinks and laundry tubs, which took $3,049,810 out of the public’s income last year. And while speaking of laundry tubs, there is the piffling item of $359,230 for clothes pins. You can bulk both at two dollars per year.

Which brings us to the matter of hot water. Everyone likes hot water, and for some purposes of cleanliness it is essential. Every time you open the hot-water tap, you are opening a hole in your purse. Many men waste hot water while shaving, prefering to let the water run. They probably double the cost. If you are careful and don’t try to wallow in the wash basin, two gallons per day should be sufficient for washing. A bath runs to thirty gallons, and the average Canadian may be presumed to indulge not oftener than once a week. Dish and clothes washing requires about 100 gallons per week. You can figure it out, according to your family. But, taking an average family, the cost can be arrived at in this way: Water is delivered from the water mains at an average temperature of fifty degrees. When you speak of hot water you mean water heated to 160 degrees. Fuel experts at Ottawa tell you that it costs about one-third of a pound of coal— or the equivalent in other heating media— to raise one gallon of water from fifty to 160 degrees. Coal sells for about fourteen dollars per ton, so that the total cost of heating water per year for the average family is $49.50.

No charge has been made for the labor of housekeeping. If you keep a servant, the cost, including food, is certainly not less than $240 per year. If you do the work yourself you are entitled to figure your time at thirty cents per hour. Housekeeping experts calculate that the housewife’s time spent in house cleaning is worth $200 per year.

Then there are odds and ends. One haircut a month is indicated, with an annual outlay of $3.50. The haircuts for your wife and daughter may be overlooked. If you have a car, it costs you money to have it washed. Unless you do. you can scarcely keep clean yourself. Then there are the “invisible” items which come out of your taxes, and less personal items such as paint, food wrapping and so forth.

The total bill for articles used in cleaning of one sort and another exceeds $70,000,000 a year. Add in the cost of services, fuel and the other indirect items, and the amount spent by the average middle class city home works out at something approximating $400 a year.

These days, that’s a healthy slice of any man’s income.—The End.

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