This growth doesn't mean we have turned into a nation of cleaning fanatics. Consumers are coming to the category because of the proliferation of innovative, task-specific products in new formats designed to take the pain out of cleaning. Manufacturers have recognised that even though consumers don't like cleaning, they enjoy the results, but have little time for the task. And so they have created products that are convenient to use and make chores quick and easy to accomplish. Lever Faberge category strategy manager Lisa Dodd explains: "Consumers want to spend the minimum amount of time doing household chores and so are looking for products that save them time and effort. However, they also want their homes to look good ­ think of the success of television programmes such as Changing Rooms ­ and they reap a great deal of satisfaction from having a home that looks, feels and smells cleaned and cared for." Of the new formats, wipes is the one that has really struck a chord with consumers, for sales in all sectors have more than doubled in the last 12 months. These chemically-impregnated, single-use, disposable cloths have proved to be so convenient, efficient and hygienic to use that versions are now available for cleaning virtually every facet of the house, from floors, windows and work surfaces, to carpets and even toilet seats. Liquids and sprays, the former favourites, are starting to take a back seat as a result, while scouring powders and creams are still in marked decline. Window wipes, in particular, have met a real need, playing a major part in doubling sales in the previously lacklustre window cleaning sector in the past 12 months (TNS). Windowlene Wipes and CIF Glass and Window Wipes, both launched last spring, are the key products. Lever Faberge's Dodd says Cif Glass and Window Wipes have been especially successful, attracting nearly twice as many buyers as their main competitor, and have brought 2.2m new people to the sector with 12% repeat purchase rate. Procter & Gamble believes wipes have huge potential, having helped develop the category with all-purpose and antibacterial versions under its Flash brand. "They are about 15% of our homecare business," says homecare marketing manager Mark Brickhill. In the past few months the pace of wipes' innovation has quickened. Reckitt Benckiser has just launched Dettol Anti-Bacterial Floor Wipes which also leave floors clean and shiny. Each wipe does 12 square metres and can be used by hand, with a sponge mop, broom or sweeper system. It has also introduced Vanish Carpet & Upholstery Foam Action Wipes. Jeyes has extended its Parazone brand into flushable toilet wipes which are impregnated with a non-bleach solution that leaves toilet surfaces clean for up to 12 hours. Marketing controller Jayne Hazlewood says this type of product meets a real need because consumers dislike leaving conventional cloths in the bathroom after use. "As a new category, flushable toilet wipes provide an excellent incremental opportunity for retailers. Merchandised adjacent to bleach and liquid toilet cleaners, the product provides an additional purchasing opportunity to consumers who are already in the mindset for buying toilet cleaning products." A similar product has just been released by the Harpic brand. Other newcomers include a disinfectant wipe from Thornton & Ross's Zoflora, impregnated with the brand's citrus fragrance. Wipes, however, are small compared to the mainstream multi-purpose market dominated by liquids and sprays. Here, the big brands have continued to stretch into task specific areas. P & G's all-purpose Flash, for example, now comes in many variants, each designed to tackle a different cleaning job. Brickhill says task segmentation has been a successful strategy but admits it has a downside. "The increase in products appearing in the market is making the category confusing for consumers." The brand's most recent development has been an upgrade of the bathroom range, an area of cleaning that's seen a lot of activity in the past year. Lever Faberge has focused on improving the packaging of bathroom products as it believes consumers want products that look good to complement their bathroom decor. Its Domestos WC Active Toilet Mousse, launched last spring, is packaged in a sleek metallic can with an opaque cap and comes in two fresh fragrances ­ Ocean and Crystal. "Consumers are responding to good fragrances in cleaning products," says Dodd. It has also combined functionality with style in the general purpose market with its recently launched Domestis Bi-Actif, a double-layered cleaner and disinfectant which requires shaking to activate. The product appears to have captured consumers' imagination for it has rapidly risen to the number two slot in the multi-purpose and kitchen market with nearly 6% share. Last year was a fruitful period for the company for it also extended the Cif brand with Cif Oxy gel which Dodd says rose to number three position in the trigger spray sector in the first two months of launch and has a 17% repeat purchase rate. Jeyes has continued to invest in new product development for its Bloo brand, its latest being a solid rim block in the same tropical fragrances as its liquid toilet cleaner. The company hopes new fragrances will revitalise the static rim block sector in the same way as they have done for liquid rims. Fragrances are also playing a bigger role in dishcare, where Sainsbury is among the first to bring aromatherapy oils to dishwashing liquid More conventionally, P & G's Brickhill says the new lemon and floral fragrances introduced with Fairy's relaunch have helped grow the brand's share of dishwashing liquids to an all-time high of more than 59%. Another fragrance variant is about to be introduced. And, to mask bad smells in the dishwasher, Reckitt Benckiser has just added Mint Fresh to its dishwasher freshener range. Like consumables, the cleaning tools market is also performing well. Spontex's new Domestic Cleaning Category report says the £130m market grew 13% by value, 8% by volume over the year, with dusting products increasing by 24% in value. Dusting's growth can be explained by the increase in wood and other hard floor surfaces and the development of convenient, single use products such as Spontex's Spring Magic Duster, P & G's Swiffer and Pledge Dust and Go. However, floor dusting kits slowed to 11.2% growth, compensated by a huge 126.2% growth in dusting refills. Vileda, mop brand leader, says the move to disposability is not affecting the growth of traditional mops which have risen 11%, while cloths and scourers have gained 3%. It is running a £1m national TV campaign for its Supermop. Addis says its overall share of floor cleaning tools has risen to 38%, achieved through npd, such as its innovative microfibre Optimo mops, plus frequent updating of designs and colours. Marketing manager Kate Johnston says the market has become increasingly fashion-led and changing styles and colours each year helps stimulate sales. This spring it is running a number of tailored on-pack promotions with different retailers for its top-selling Superdry Mop, the Soft and Stiff broom and its large rectangular washing up bowl. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}