Teaching Your Kids To Clean

Cleaning your house while you have kids living in it can be about as effective as brushing your teeth while eating an Oreo. Getting them to help clean can feel like more work than it’s worth. However, just as you have learned to clean like us, so can your kids. Ideally, you should start teaching your kids how to clean while they are young, so they learn that cleaning is just a fact of life, and something you do to be a good human. But if your kids are older, it’s never too late to start! 

While teaching your kids to clean, you may need to set your standards aside for a moment so that they don’t walk away defeated. Give them a small task to start with, show them how, and then let them complete the task. Depending on their age, you can gently point out how they could improve, or you can wait until they are distracted and then you can fix their work to your standards later. Progress over perfection is the name of the game here. And before long, your kids will have the skills to REALLY help you out around the house! (Now if only this worked on our partners….)

Kids Chore Charts 

We’ve busted our butts creating the House Work chore charts for all ages of kids. You can get that here. But we are all about giving you great, free info so we wanted to help you think of some ways to motivate your child (of course there’s even more good stuff in there – hint hint!).

When you buy through our links, we may earn a small commission.

Kids’ Cleaning Caddy

One way to motivate your kids is to make them their own, mini cleaning caddy. Allow them to add their favorite stickers to the caddy as you build it out together. We’ve put together some ideas to make cleaning fun here. (Canada) (USA)

Safety Pit Stop: Depending on your kids’ age, you may not want to add some of the cleaning chemicals, of course. Start safe and slowly add items as you trust your child to use them safely. As an example, a 7 year old should be able to manage vinegar and Blue Dawn in a spray bottle but we’re probably going to hold off on a bleach bottle until their mid-teens.

Safe for 2+:

  • Swiffer® dusters
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Polish cloths
  • Spray bottle with water (for pretend cleaning)
  • Cordless Vacuum (watch the walls though)
  • Spin Mop (with supervision)

Use caution:

  • Spray bottle with white vinegar and blue Dawn® dish soap
  • Windex®
  • Powdered Tide®
  • Scrubbing Bubbles®

Preschoolers (ages 2-5):

Motivating toddlers can be a puzzling task, but we have a few tricks up our sleeves. Sometimes, it can be as easy as turning cleaning into a game. Turn on some music and have a dance party while you clean together! Preschoolers are very visual, so a chore chart (even though they may not be able to read yet) is a super fun task for them to work through. Grab a pack of stickers for filling it out to make it more of a game.

A few tasks that toddlers can do include dusting, feeding pets, setting the table, and making their bed. Give them a stack of cloths or socks to match, and you might be surprised at how stellar of a job they can do folding and matching! As your shadows, they love to be included in whatever mom or dad are doing, so it can be as simple as allowing them to follow you as you clean. Give them a cloth and a spray bottle of just water, and they can learn to spray and wipe just like you. (Make sure they aren’t creating a pool of water where damage can happen!) Preschoolers love buttons, so have them involved by turning on the dishwasher or washing machine, and helping pour in the detergent or tossing in the pod (just make sure it’s safely put away after).

Elementary Kiddos (ages 6-10):

Elementary-aged kids. Their brains are being filled at an incredible rate; why not throw some cleaning knowledge at them, and see what sticks? A little motivation also goes a long way with this age group so don’t underestimate the power of a reward for a job well done. Maybe they are working toward a toy, a sweet treat, or even screen time. Cleaning can still be a game at this age, so make some memories and take pictures along the way using funny filters. 

Your kids can do a lot more with less supervision here. Think wiping the table, washing dishes, cleaning up their toys, and wiping down sinks, counters and mirrors. You may need to walk them through each task to ensure they are doing it properly and safely, but with enough repetition, they will learn. They might even start to enjoy certain jobs (the spin mop is FUN for kids this age)! Helping with laundry is the best way to teach them how to do it. Have them help by sorting by color, loading the washing machine, dumping in detergent, and helping to fold.

Tweens and Teens (ages 11-14):

Tweens and teens. Somewhere around this age they start to resemble trolls that hide in their bedrooms, only to emerge for food or cell phone chargers. It can feel like pulling teeth to get them to bring their dirty dishes to the kitchen, let alone the dishwasher.  Motivation at this age is often financial which makes it a great way to teach your kids some basics about spending and saving. Another great option to motivate your preteens is to save up for an experience like movie or arcade tickets.

Preteens have the ability to do most cleaning tasks on their own. By now, they can clean their whole bedroom and bathroom. This includes bringing dishes to the kitchen (bonus point if they make it all the way into the dishwasher). If you are still cleaning their room for them at this age, STOP. All motivation will fall by the wayside if they know that mom or dad will come and clean up for them if they put it off long enough. It’s time to start teaching them how to do laundry if you haven’t started already. You won’t be there to do it for them forever so teach them early on. Have them sort laundry into colors, show them how to use the washer and dryer, and have them fold and put away their own clothes. 

Teenagers (15+):

At House Work, we know just how capable teenagers are. That’s why the vast majority of our cleaners were hired straight out of high school. Again, motivation is often financial at this age, so maybe their cleaning tasks are tied to their allowance, or you can consider paying them on a per-job basis to start teaching them the value of a dollar earned. If you’d rather not go the financial route, there are other ways to motivate them of course. The reward could be time with the car if they have their driver’s license, or bus passes if they don’t. Another option is to hold out on rewards until certain tasks are complete, like they can’t go out with friends until the table is clear, for instance.

Teenager’s rooms can be downright terrifying. How is it possible for one human to collect so many cups and mugs?! As tempting as it may be to jump in and rescue them, taking care of their belongings and personal space is a life skill they need to learn. If you are still cleaning their room for them it’s time to stop. Same goes for laundry. Nothing will motivate your teen to do their laundry like having no clean clothes! They will thank you in the future. Who knows, maybe mopping the floors will convince them to take off their muddy shoes outside or doing their own laundry will help curb the 97 outfit changes in a day. Seasonal tasks like shoveling snow or mowing the lawn (yes, they can handle that) can teach them important life skills while taking them off your plate. If they have a car, make it their responsibility to keep it clean.

If you want more details, head on over here to purchase your very own copy of our House Work chore chart(s).

Pro Tip: the bundle of all 4 age groups is a steal of a deal!

For a list of our favorite products, click here.

– Becky @ GoCleanCo

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