10 Dreadful Household Chores Americans Hate Doing the Most

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You’re going to despise these chores even more when you see the dollar value of all that elbow grease.
Updated May 2, 2024
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 father with two small children washing dishes indoors at home

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Arguably the most annoying part of being a child was doing chores. Many of us couldn’t wait to grow up, longing for a future that didn’t involve washing dishes or taking out the trash. Yet as we entered adulthood, we’ve found ourselves scouring this and tidying that every single day. It’s truly one of life’s greatest betrayals.

To be fair, chores aren’t all bad. You might even find some of them rewarding. But there are a few domestic tasks that we collectively agree are the worst of the worst. And when you find out the monetary value of your unpaid household labor, you’ll hate these 10 chores even more. In some instances, you may even prefer picking up a side hustle to make extra cash to pay for someone else to handle the dreadful chores. 

Cleaning countertops and tables

Кирилл Рыжов/Adobe  young housewife cleaning kitchen countertop

In a recent FinanceBuzz study, we asked 1,000 Americans to tell us about their cleaning habits including which chores Americans hate most. We also invited respondents to put a dollar value on household upkeep — time is money, after all — with the median wage coming in at $15 per hour.

Nearly 10% listed cleaning off their counters and tables as one of their top three least favorite household duties.

Many reported that they devote 15-30 minutes a week — or 13-26 hours a year — to similar tasks. If they spend the same amount of time on their counters, that means their efforts are worth $195 to $390 per year.

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Loading and unloading the dishwasher

Daisy Daisy/Adobe teenage girl stacking crockery in dishwasher

Swapping out clean dishes for dirty ones isn’t exactly grueling work, but it is tedious. Especially if your family goes through tableware like there’s a prize for who sullies the most dishes, you could find yourself spending another 13-26 hours per year on loading and unloading your dishwasher.

If you earned $15 for every hour spent painstakingly organizing your dishwasher racks for maximum cleanliness, you’d be up to $390 richer at the end of the year.

Vacuuming

Seventyfour/Adobe  woman vacuuming floor at home

If you have even one inch of carpet in your home, you know it’s a plushy magnet for dust, dirt, pet hair — you name it. This might be why 16% of Americans are sick and tired of vacuuming.

The median weekly time spent on floor cleaning totals about 15-30 minutes, with half of respondents needing less time and half needing more. If you’re in the latter camp, the hours you spend ridding your carpet of dirt and dander are worth at least $195 to $390 annually.

Pro tip: If you’re someone who loves to tackle chores, then cleaning could be a lucrative side hustle for you.

Taking out the trash

Gorodenkoff/Adobe man is throwing away two plastic bags of trash next to his house

Do you feel like you’re always shifting your garbage bags from your indoor wastebaskets to your outside bins? Are you in a constant state of shock at the sheer amount of trash your family can produce in a week? (Seriously, where does it all come from?)

You’re not alone with this — 18% of survey respondents want off of the trash removal hamster wheel. In fact, 31% of men and 19% of women said they’d relinquish their cellphones for a year if it meant never having to take out the trash again.

Doing laundry

Asier/Adobe yound man holding a basketful of laundry

On the surface, laundry seems like an easy task since your washer and dryer do the heavy lifting. In reality, though, it’s rather time-consuming. The average American spends anywhere from 45-60 minutes a week on laundry, adding up to 39-52 hours every year.

If we were getting paid to sort, wash, and fold our clothes, we’d make between $585 to $780 annually — far more than any loose change you might find in your pants pockets before you toss them in the machine.

Dusting

ronstik/Adobe woman cleaning wooden window blinds from dust

Is it that a thorough dusting requires a certain level of fastidiousness, or is it the visible evidence of the ick that always settles in the corners of your bookshelves? Whatever the reason, 21% of Americans absolutely cannot stand this chore.

When you work up the courage to dust again, time yourself. Then, multiply the hours spent by $15 to see the dollar value behind your labor. No matter the number, it’s likely not enough.

Sweeping and mopping

Milan/Adobe woman cleaning and sweeping floor at home

Floors get dirty — it’s just the nature of the beast. But if you have kids or pets, it probably feels like your floors are hardly ever clean.

Our survey respondents reported spending a median of 15-30 minutes on weekly floor care, but this figure might be modest depending on the size of your home and how often you sweep and mop. In either case, know that this chore is worth $195 to $390 per year at minimum.

Pro tip: Start budgeting for your go-to cleaning supplies so you can keep the products you need on hand without overspending.

Washing dishes

Kittiphan/Adobe young woman with gloves washing dishes in the kitchen

Nearly a quarter of Americans loathe washing dishes, and can you blame them? This is another one of those chores that never seems to be quite finished, because, well, people keep eating.

To calculate the monetary value of your dishwashing, track the hours spent on the chore, and multiply that by $15. Only include the time you spent actively scrubbing and sudsing, though. Sorry, but the day (or two) that you leave your pots and pans in the sink “to soak” doesn't count.

Cleaning the fridge

Budimir Jevtic/Adobe person cleaning refrigerator

Kitchen tasks can be annoying with 30% of respondents ranking cleaning out the refrigerator as one of their least favorite chores, making it the second most-hated in the U.S.

The time and labor intensity involved with a refrigerator refresh can vary: If you’re wiping down meat and cheese drawers, you’ll incur more of an inherent value cost than if you’re only throwing out expired food.

Pro tip: When buying cleaning products or restocking the fridge, use one of the best credit cards for groceries so you can earn rewards or cash back for your purchases.

Scrubbing the toilet

Budimir Jevtic/Adobe woman cleaning toilet bowl

Unsurprisingly, polishing the porcelain throne holds the dubious honor of being the #1 most-hated chore in the country. Forty-four percent of our respondents listed this as one of the top three chores they liked least, with 36% of men and 24% of women saying they’d give up their phones for a year if they could avoid commode cleansing forever.

Interestingly, people only spend about one to 13 hours a year cleaning their toilets, totaling about $15 to $195 in annual monetary value.

Bottom line

Southworks/Adobe boys doing laundry with father holding basket

Of all the chores Americans do, the ones they despise most seem to be those that never end (like washing dishes or doing laundry) and those that are downright icky (like scrubbing the toilet). But in households where the division of domestic labor is unbalanced, these chores aren’t just unpleasant — they can even be contentious.

Considering how much time and elbow grease go into maintaining a spotless home — and that this effort would be worth $2,160 to $3,705 per year in a paying job — sharing the burden is essential. Would you pick up a side hustle to make extra cash to pay for someone else to handle your most dreadful chores?

Take turns tackling the more unsavory tasks, and have open conversations about how to fairly divvy up the workload. After all, a clean home is nice, but a harmonious one is better.

Author Details

Sarah Sheehan Sarah Sheehan is a writer, educator, and analyst who focuses on the impact of health, gender, and geography on financial equity. Her ultimate goal? To live beyond the confines of chasing the next dollar — and to teach everyone else how to do the same.

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