Getting Your Kids to Clean!


Cleaning doesn’t really come naturally for kids, does it? It sure didn’t for me.  So it’s no surprise that we get asked about the best ways to get kids to clean quite a bit.

Now, Chad and I don’t have kids yet, but we’ve done a lot of research and have asked a plethora of parents for their best advice, and we are sharing our favorite tips in this post.

So, let’s get right to it, shall we?

Make it fun

Cleaning doesn’t need to be boring – in fact, with a little imagination – cleaning can be fun!

  • You can start by playing music during clean up time – pick one or two songs and while they are playing everyone gets down with some groovy cleaning action!
  • It’s also fun to turn cleaning into a game or a challenge – perhaps it could also be an important mission – like preparing the spaceship for launch, or that the Minions have to get all the housework done for Gru.  Children might not yet understand the importance of a clean, clutter free life – but most children do understand the importance of completing an important mission, so work with that.
  • You can play laundry basketball,  have cleaning races, sweep the floor crud onto the special tile, and had I even read somewhere of a mother whose daughters would pretend to film cleaning commercials while cleaning – how fantastic is that?!

Whatever you do, this is a perfect opportunity to let imaginations run free – cleaning is only a ‘boring chore’ if you let it be one 🙂

Make it easy

They are children, so manage your expectations accordingly.

  • Instead of cleaning the entire bedroom, start by just making the bed and putting away some books and toys, you want to keep it simple and be specific.
  • Give them attainable goals and follow up with compliments.  The culmination of these types of positive reinforcement helps to create long-term habits.
  • Focus on one thing at a time and remember to have them doing an age appropriate cleaning job – if you’re wondering what an age appropriate cleaning job is (see below).
  • Make a schedule and put it on the fridge – essentially, you’re making cleaning just part of a normal routine each day

If the task is too complicated, they’ll surely lose interest, and if they can’t succeed at it, same result will occur.  Making it easy means it can be seen through to completion.


If everyone else is doing it,  I can too!

  • Set the example by cleaning with your children – trust me your kids would rather have you participating in the cleaning than standing there watching them.
  • They’ll mimic your mood, mindset and actions, so join in!
  • It’s also important that you commit to living a clean lifestyle yourself.  You lead by example, so if you want them to make their beds then you better be making your own :).

Give Rewards & Recognition!

Everyone loves some R and R!

  • By rewards, I don’t mean money – a reward can be a family game night, movie night or even just another hour on the xbox.
  • By recognition, I do mean recognition – the first thing anybody wants is a little recognition of a good well done – so make sure that’s the first thing children hear 🙂

Positive reinforcement has legs!

..and Finally, Adapt!

There are no real rules to how you get your kids to clean, because every child and each family is so unique – so, you’re going to have to learn to adapt and be creative with your approaches. Just concentrate on making cleaning a routine part of normal life, like brushing your teeth and not a chore, like doing your taxes.

So, now it’s you turn – this is a call to all the parents in the Clean My Space community – what do you do to get your kids to clean? leave us comment down below and help us help others!  Our goal is to have this post be the go to place for parents to get their kids to pitch in.

Age-appropriate cleaning tasks

This is a progressive list, so as the child grows older, add the additional tasks to their capabilities.

2-3 years old

  • Put toys and crafts away
  • Put clothes in hamper
  • Bring dishes to sink area (hand them to a parent)
  • Place garbage in garbage bin, recyclables in recycle bin

4-5 years old

  • Collect dirty clothes and place in hamper
  • Help fold socks, underwear, small towels
  • Put clothing away in drawers and closet
  • Set the table
  • Water indoor plants
  • Help place clothing in the washing machine and dryer
  • Make bed
  • Empty lunch bag
  • Empty school bag
  • Put shoes and jacket in proper place each day
  • Tidy up play area

6-8 years old

  • Dust with microfiber cloth
  • Wipe baseboards
  • Tidy and organize play room by toy type
  • Help with dishes (unload, load, hand-dry, put away reachable items)
  • Sweep the floor
  • Tidy and organize bedroom
  • Fold shirts, pants, hang up clothing on hangers and place in appropriate location
  • Wipe window sills
  • Wipe kitchen table before/after dinner
  • Wash produce, find and replace ingredients for cooking
  • Collect garbage from garbage cans around the house
  • Changing toilet paper roll

9-11 years old

  • Tidy living room/den/office including folding blankets, fluffing pillows and putting everything in its’ place, lining up items parallel and perpendicular
  • Clean bedroom including making bed, organizing books and toys, and placing clothing in its proper place (closet, drawers, hamper)
  • Changing bed linens
  • Load and unload dishwasher
  • Vacuum
  • Mop
  • Wiping out bathroom and kitchen sinks and counters
  • Wipe out microwave
  • Take garbage and recycling to the curb
  • Laundry – washing and folding

12-15 years old

  • Clean toilets
  • Clean shower and tub
  • Clean inside fridge
  • Clean inside stove
  • Organize front hall closet
  • Organize cupboards in kitchen and bathroom
Previous article12 Days of Clean!
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Melissa Maker is the host of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube, editor-at-large of, and founder of Clean My Space (a well-known Toronto-based cleaning service). She's been knee-deep in the cleaning game since 2006. Follow Melissa: @MelissaMaker on Instagram, SnapChat & Twitter!


  1. Great tips and ideas! My kids really like cleaning and always help me when i need help. I’ve labeled toy bins with interesting pictures and they like sorting their toys. Thanks for the list of age-appropriate cleaning tasks, it’s very useful. Greets!

  2. I was 2 when my grandmother instilled a love of vacuuming in me. My parents said the only way i could vacuum was if i cleaned up first…nice blackmailing mom and dad

  3. Hi Melissa & Chad!
    Inspired by your “10-Minute-pre-guest-tidy” video and this one (got me thinking), I introduced my daughter (5) to a daily “one-song-tidy-up”. She can choose a CD and for one song, she shall look around and clean her room in an organized manner. I taught her to stand with her back to the closed door of her room and stretch out her arm. Then, starting from one wall, she shall move her arm like a pointer of a clock, move it slowly and look, if she sees something out of place to put back into place or clean it up. She has always been finished before the song was over.
    I might need to add that for the first two days, we took the afternoons to organize and clean the whole room together. It’s easier to maintain a clean room, when everything has it’s place.
    We do this for about two weeks now and I see that she is more balanced, happy and self-confident.
    Thank you for bringing up this topic and inspiring thoughts about how to deal with it.
    Love, Nadia

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