One in nine young Brits don’t know how to change a light bulb

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
October 02, 2017, 10:43 AM GMT+0

Data suggests some household skills - such as bleeding a radiator - are dying out among younger generations

During this year's series of Love Island, contestant Chris Hughes revealed that he often wears his boxers three days in a row because he didn’t know how to use a washing machine.

Most Brits take for granted the fact that they know how to work the washer, and may be horrified to hear that the 24 year-old frequently stews in his undies for so long.* But new YouGov Omnibus data shows that Chris is far from the only young person who doesn’t know how to perform basic household tasks.

In fact, like Chris, 8% of British 18-24 year olds don’t know to use a washing machine. Young men are twice as likely to be ignorant in this area, at 11% compared to 5% of young women.

But this level of ignorance pales into comparison with other household tasks. Bleeding a radiator tops the list of household chores young Brits can’t perform, with 69% of 18-24 year olds saying they don’t know how to do this.

One in three young people don’t know how to reset the fuse box after a switch has tripped (34%) or use the boiler (32%). Tumble dryers and dishwashers are twice as tricky for young Brits as washing machines, with 16% saying they don’t know how work these white goods, while one in nine (11%) don’t know how to change a light bulb or iron clothes.

In most of these cases these figures probably just reflect a lack of life experience as a result of not having left home yet. The results show that slightly older Brits – those aged 25-34 – are much more likely to be able to perform the tasks on which their younger counterparts are most ignorant (for instance, the proportion of Brits who don’t know how to set up utility bills when moving home drops from 55% of 18-24 year olds to just 13% of 25-34 year olds).

However, there are some tasks that remain tricky for many even as they get older. For instance, when it comes to bleeding a radiator four in ten (41%) 25-34 year olds wouldn’t know what to do, neither would a quarter (25%) of 35-44 year-olds, nor one in five (18%) 45-54 year-olds.

Likewise, replacing the fuse in a plug and sewing on a button are tasks that many older Brits also find tricky, suggesting that these skills may be dying out rather than simply being tasks that some people only get to grips with once they leave home.

*Incidentally, previous YouGov data shows that 5% of British men, like Chris, wear their pants 3-5 times before washing them.

Photo: Getty

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