A little boy holds a spray bottle and a cloth as he plays a cleaning game in the living room

Cleaning Games for Kids: Our Favorites Over the Years

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My kids and I used to play cleaning games at chore time. Before that, I could ask them to pick up toys or clean their rooms and they’d sullenly do it. Once I introduced cleaning games, everything changed.

Whether they were playing for extra spending money, or privileges like staying up late or more screen time, they actually started looking forward to doing their chores. But it just makes sense: I don’t like to work for free, either.

Cleaning Games That Teach Kids

Even though they didn’t realize it at the time, my kids were learning how to clean. They also learned important life skills like problem-solving, time management, and follow-through.

Isn’t that what we all want our kids to learn? So, here are the cleaning games we played most often. I hope you find one you look forward to playing with your kids, too!

Here’s Your Mission

This game made cleaning fun but also taught my kids to clean methodically and in a logical order. I’d set up a reward for them like a extra screen time or a treat, and we’d agree on how many missions they wanted to do.

Then, I’d write different age-appropriate chores on slips of paper. For example, you can write down “Put dirty towels in the hamper” or “Make your bed,” just pick things they already know how to do independently. Let them choose a slip without seeing it, then have them turn it in when they’re done to get the next one.

Unburied treasure

I was a child when I first read about this game, and I wish I could remember the book. It sounded so fun that I promised myself I’d play it with my kids when I grew up. And I did!

For this game, hide little stickers or coins around a room where you want your kids to dust. The older they got, the sneakier I’d get by hiding treasure underneath or behind things, so they’d learn to pick up items when dusting surfaces. Just be sure you remember how many you hid so you know when the game’s done.

Goodnight, Toys

My son’s favorite book when he was little was Goodnight, Moon. I must have read that a thousand times. One night, it dawned on me that having him tell his toys goodnight would get him to pick up the toy clutter—and spare me yet another night of reading.

This game is as simple as it sounds: describe a toy for your child to pick up and tell goodnight before they put it away, and keep going for however long you think is appropriate.

When the kids were little, I found being specific helped: “Say goodnight to your blue stuffed bunny.” As they got older, it was easier and I’d just say “Say goodnight to your toy cars.”

I Spy, You Clean

We giggled more than cleaned sometimes with this game. Part of the fun was coming up with silly things now and then.

To play this cleaning game, tell your child “I spy…” then describe something for them to find and put away. When they’re young, keep it simple: “I spy a pair of dirty undies on the floor!” Older kids can handle bigger challenges, like “I spy something smelly.”

You’re a Star!

Back in the days before TikTok and selfies, this was a lot more fun. But, hey, if your kid loves to ham it up for the camera, they may still enjoy this. We got a lot of fun VHS videos out of it. (Yep, I’m old and now so are my kids!)

To play this cleaning game, have your child play the star of a cleaning infomercial or reality show. Give them some safe cleaning products and let them demonstrate for their “audience” while you record a video. As the director, you get to coach them if needed.

Parents vs. Kids

Sometimes, I needed to get my own housework done while the kids were doing their chores. That’s when we’d play this cleaning game.

It’s as easy as it sounds: make a To Do list for them and another for you. Then it’s ready, set, go! to see who gets their list done first. Pro tip: always let your kids win this one and they’ll keep enjoying cleaning games for years to come.

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