Consumer Research about Washing in China: Part I (600 Households in Urban Areas)
— Estimated Water Amount for Washing —

- Approximately 90 percent of users washed by machine and by hand.
- On average, a household used almost 30,000 liters a year for washing.
- Rinse water accounted for four-fifths of water used in washing.

Kao Group's Kao (China) Research & Development Center Co., Ltd. (KCRC) and Fabric & Home Care Research Center (Japan) develop consumer products to meet consumers' requirements and support their clean and comfortable life.

To study washing in Chinese households and its impact on the water environment, we recently conducted a usage and attitude survey on washing in 600 households in urban areas (Shanghai and Beijing) and estimated the amount of water consumed for washing.

The survey revealed that most users washed both by machine and by hand. On average, a household used almost 30,000 liters a year for washing. Half of the water was consumed when they used a washing machine and the other half was consumed when they washed by hand. Around 80 percent of the total water for washing was consumed for rinsing, and the survey also showed the requirement for efficient rinsing.

The Kao Group utilizes these results for future laundry detergents.


Laundry habits (Attachment: Figures 1 to 5)

Although 97 percent of respondents owned washing machines, about 90 percent answered that they washed both by machine and by hand, and just 5 percent used only washing machines. The frequency of machine wash was twice a week on average. With regard to hand washing, 39 percent of respondents answered that they wash everyday, and 21 percent answered that they wash four to five times a week, which is higher frequency than machine washing.
Around 90 percent of washing machines were automatic or twin-tub types, of which more than 90 percent ranged from 3.0 kg to 7.0 kg in capacity, or 5.0kg on average (50-liter water capacity).

In addition to the above results, a series of home visit surveys was conducted to get "an average consumer," as described in the following, which will be used to calculate the amount of water used in washing in the next section.

• Machine wash
- Washing machine: 5kg-type (50-liter water capacity)
- Laundry process: wash once with detergent, rinse twice with stored water
- Frequency of laundry: twice a week (eight times per month)

• Hand wash
- Approximately 10-liter basin or tub used
- Laundry process: wash once with detergent, rinse four times with stored water
- 3 liters of water are used for wash-cycle and 5 liters are used for a single rinse-cycle
- Frequency of laundry: twice a day by sorting clothes in different batches (60 times per month)

Meanwhile, it is known that in most households in the US, Europe and Japan, users wash clothes with washing machine without pre-sorting. On the other hand, in China, hand washing was commonly found to be carried out everyday in addition to machine wash. These findings reflect that the Chinese people have a high awareness of washing and cleanliness.

Estimated amount of water consumption for washing (Figure below)

Based on the results above, the amount of water consumed for standard washing was estimated.

The amounts of water consumed for a single load of laundry by washing machine and by hand wash are 150 liters and 23 liters, respectively. However, in consideration of the frequency of washing, a single household annually consumes 14,400 liters for machine washing, and 16,560 liters for hand washing. Consequently, it was found that these two washing methods use almost the same amount of water.

Adding the two methods, it was estimated that approximately 30,000 liters of water were consumed annually by a single household.

Moreover, during the washing process, about 70 percent of water of the total amount for washing was consumed for the rinse-cycle for machine wash and around 90 percent for hand wash. Overall, approximately 80 percent of water was consumed for the rinse-cycle. This fact indicated the necessity of efficient rinsing.

Research background

The Kao Group has been supplying diverse products, such as laundry detergents and hair care products, as a leading daily-use products company in Japan. In June 2009, responding to changes on a worldwide scale in the surrounding business environment, the Group announced a new mission: "Positioning ecology at the core management, Kao aims to contribute to 'the wholehearted satisfaction and enrichment of the lives of people globally' in the fields of cleanliness, beauty and health."

People are becoming more aware of environmental issues due to concerns over depletion of natural resources and global warming. Kao has been engaging in such ecological approaches as the three Rs (Reduce/Reuse/Recycle). In the environmental statement announced in June 2009, Kao defined its unique, new environmental initiatives by positioning the key theme specifically on the reduction of CO2 emissions and water consumption in global operations.

In China, where economic growth is soaring, water consumption for daily use is forecast to increase. The Kao Group conducted a survey with the consideration that the clarification of specific laundry water usage was crucial from the standpoint as a supplier of laundry detergents.

Survey method

- Survey respondents: females aged 20 to 59 at 600 households in urban areas in China (300 households in Shanghai and 300 households in Beijing).
378 full-time workers (63 percent), 23 part-time workers (4 percent), 45 home-based workers (8 percent), 154 full-time housewives (26 percent)
- Door-to-door survey by research agencies
- Survey period: March 2009

About Kao

Kao creates high-value-added products to help consumers around the world enrich their everyday lives. Over 20 leading brands such as Asience, Attack, Bioré, Goldwell, Jergens, John Frieda, Kanebo, Laurier, Merries and Molton Brown are part of the lives of people in Asia, Oceania, North America and Europe and help generate about 1,200 billion yen (about $US13 billion) in annual sales. Kao employs about 35,000 people worldwide and has a 120 year history of innovation.
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