Parenting 101: Teaching Kids How to Clean Up After Themselves

New parents have to deal with a lot. Sleepless nights, tricky schedules, diaper changes, balancing work and personal lives, and a million other things that no one had prepared us for. We get swept up in our children’s lives, and since we love them so much, we take on all the responsibility. Instead of teaching kids to clean up, we end up doing it ourselves. 

Good habits in kids need to be taught early on so that it is something they learn growing up, but most parents are reluctant to teach them. Why is that? Well, one reason is that our kids are our responsibility, which means cleaning up after them feels like it is our job. But if we don’t start developing good habits such as cleaning at an early age, it will become impossible to get them to do it later on.


Parenting 101: Teaching Kids How to Clean Up After Themselves | Hyper Lychee

Photo by Elnur

House cleaning for kids should be a mandatory learning practice, such as toilet training or finishing homework on time. It builds a strong foundation and value system, and kids learn the best ways they can be hygienic and clean at an early age. 

Instead of getting frustrated with them when they’re fifteen and don’t make their bed, isn’t it better if we just taught them that it needs to be done every day when they were just kids?

So how do parents start teaching kids to clean? What are the steps? It might be a little confusing, but we’ve managed to break it down into a few parts that all parents can follow to develop good habits in kids.

Part 1: Teaching Kids to Clean Starts with Teaching Them the Value of Hygiene

Parenting 101: Teaching Kids How to Clean Up After Themselves | Hyper Lychee

Photo by Hyper Lychee

Developing good habits such as house cleaning for kids becomes a lot easier when your kids understand what they gain from doing their chores. When you think of the value behind completing a task, you are more inclined to do it. It applies to any aspect of their lives, not just cleaning. So what do they gain when you’re teaching kids to clean up after themselves?

Self Reliance

House cleaning for kids is a great lesson in learning self-reliance. They learn how to do their own chores and take care of themselves. It is a crucial life skill that will help them as they grow older, move out, and start their own lives.

Parenting 101: Teaching Kids How to Clean Up After Themselves | Hyper Lychee

Photo by ivolodina

A Sense of Responsibility

The sense of responsibility that comes with creating a chores list and completing all the tasks in it will help them a lot in their future. This develops in other aspects of their lives too. Developing good habits in children starts at an early age, so you should try to inculcate a sense of responsibility in them from the time they are kids.

Organizational Skills

Cleaning up after themselves will help your kids become more organized in general. They will learn how to plan, schedule, and manage their resources. This is a core life skill that can be used throughout their lives, and teaching them this early on will benefit them greatly in the future.


Discipline is key to all aspects of life. It builds character, and performing routine tasks is the best way to instill discipline in your children. House cleaning for kids as a learning lesson will help develop discipline in them that will go a long way in building a fruitful life for them.

Part 2: Teaching Kids to Clean Starts with Parents Backing Off

Parenting 101: Teaching Kids How to Clean Up After Themselves | Hyper Lychee

Photo by Hyper Lychee

Yep, you read that right. 

All parents who want to develop good habits in kids need to step away from them a little. Many parents become perfectionists and like their home to look a certain way, and kids don’t understand that. They want to keep their things their way, and if parents go back and clean up after the kids are done, it implies to the children that what they are doing isn’t right. 

If mom is cleaning up anyway, why bother doing it in the first place?

This is why parents need to step away from the mess and give their kids the chance to clean up after themselves in their own way. They might not do it right the first, second, or even the third time, but eventually, they will learn. Just show them what needs to be done and how to do it, and let them figure it out independently. 

Parenting 101: Teaching Kids How to Clean Up After Themselves | Hyper Lychee

Photo by alexngm

Part 3: Teach House Cleaning for Kids in These Simple Ways

Parenting 101: Teaching Kids How to Clean Up After Themselves | Hyper Lychee

Photo by Hyper Lychee

Make a Rule Board with Pictures

If your previous attempts haven’t been working, it’s time to try a new strategy. Make a rule board with pictures and directions clearly stating what you want from each child. Explain the concept of ‘clean up’ with simple instructions like put toys away in this box or put dirty clothes in this hamper while specifying which bookshelf the books should go into. 

Another parenting tip would be to segregate your chores and their chores, making the distinction clear. You can do the dishes while they put plates away in the sink.

Clean-Up by Category Rather than by Room

Instead of cleaning up everything in an entire room, which can be quite overwhelming, we suggest cleaning up by category. For example, put all toys with wheels in one box while Legos go in another box. Another cleaning tip would be to use clean-up songs for the children. Making this experience fun is the only way they will continue to do it in the future as well.

Explain Give and Take with Them

Explaining give and take with them will make them understand that one action needs to be completed before another one can start. They must put their first toy away before playing with a new one. They can only eat breakfast once all the beds are made. They will only get the next meal if the plates of the previous one are put in the sink. 

This simple act of give and then take will teach them to tackle each situation one by one and make cleaning up a lot easier to learn.

Use Music to Shake It Up

Make house cleaning for kids a game with positive reinforcement using music and a timer. The timer lets them know how much time they have to do a chore, after which they get a reward. You can make a playlist for them and tell them that when the playlist is over, they should have finished and will be rewarded. Their rewards could be as small as a star on their chore chart or something bigger like a snack or ice cream. 

Again, remember to step away and refrain from redoing what they did (like remaking the bed). This will demotivate them to clean up after themselves and prevent them from developing good habits like these.

Step 4: Understanding Age-Appropriate Cleaning Tasks for Your Kids

Now that you know what to do as parents who are teaching kids to clean up, what are the things that you should assign them? It’s obvious that you shouldn’t give a three-year-old the task of scrubbing dishes (especially with appliances like the dishwasher, the oven, or Skardu). Making house cleaning for kids fun involves giving them tasks they can understand and accomplish in time.

What are these tasks? How old do your kids need to be before they can start doing chores?

Parenting 101: Teaching Kids How to Clean Up After Themselves | Hyper Lychee

Photo by zinkevych

Kids between 2 and 3 Years Old

Good habits in kids can be taught as early as from the time they can walk and talk. Even your two-year-old toddler should be able to segregate, and you should start teaching kids to clean from that age onwards. Keep it very simple. Tell them to put a few things in a basket or a bag, and that’s about it. If their toys go in an assigned box, let them put them back in the box. If the laundry needs to go in the laundry basket, tell them to put it in there. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Kids between 4 and 5 Years Old

This is when you can start bringing out your chores list. Don’t involve them in full-blown house cleaning for kids; they are still a bit young. Get them to put away the dishes after dinner. Teach them how to make their own bed. If they accomplish something new or finish in record time, give them a little treat to let them know that their work is appreciated.

Kids between 6 and 7 Years Old

Now you can get them to help you with the dishes. You wash, they wipe. They can start helping you fold and separate the laundry as well, and you can get them to help you with dusting and cleaning different surfaces. They have the motor skills to complete more complex tasks, so introduce them one at a time. You have a year or two to do this, so go steady.

Kids Who Are 8 and Above

It’s time to teach them the nitty-gritty of cleaning. Start with the more fun bits. Vacuuming is one of them. Teach them how to operate different cleaning tools and give them real responsibilities and rewards. You can start their allowance for completing these tasks as well because it will motivate them to complete their chores on time. The good habits in kids would have already developed quite a bit, and this will be the added motivating factor for their growth.

Parenting 101: Teaching Kids How to Clean Up After Themselves | Hyper Lychee

Photo by Odua Images

...and you’re done! Well, as parents, we’re never really ‘done, but this is a good starting point. Teaching kids to clean is as important as any other life skill that they need to learn. So don’t coddle them, teach them some responsibility, and watch them grow and prosper in time!


Parenting 101: Teaching Kids How to Clean Up After Themselves | Hyper Lychee

Photo by Hyper Lychee