The easiest way to get kids to help cleaning is by making it fun. Sure, it would be nice if they pitched in around the house for the sake of being helpful, but children aren’t old enough to have developed that kind of internal motivation.
Turn cleaning into a game for them, and your kids will be glad to help around the house. They’ll learn the how-tos of cleaning in the process. Then as they grow, they’ll have the life skills to clean house and the mental maturity to find the result rewarding in itself.
Getting Kids to Help Clean House
Give Them The Right Tools For The Job
Although most of these games don’t require any specialized equipment, your kids will find it easier to clean if they have child-sized tools. Here are some parent-approved cleaning sets I’ve given to my grandkids that they love to use.
- A child’s cleaning set with broom, mop, dustpan, brush and storage stand.
- A child-sized vacuum that actually works. It has real suction and a removable debris holder.
- Cleaning caddy with equipment including a spray bottle, dust cloth, scrub brush, and more.
Make It Fun!
Pick a room and choose a game, then watch your kids eagerly help. They’ll have fun while learning how to clean, and you’ll get help around the house without all the whining.
Games To Get Kids Cleaning
1. Here’s Your Mission
This game teaches kids to clean in a logical order.
To play, you need to plan a reward for completing all of the Cleaning Missions. A treat like ice cream, thirty minutes of screen time, or even a small toy from the dollar store all work.
- Write down simple cleaning tasks for your child’s mission on brightly colored index cards. For example: “Pick up clothes and put them in the hamper.” “Make your bed.” “Put toys in cubbies.” (Find more ideas on this printable checklist for cleaning kids’ rooms.)
- A good rule of thumb is one job for each year of your child’s age. So, a 3-year-old would have three tasks while a 9-year-old would have nine.
- Have them turn in Mission Cards as they complete each task to get the next one. When they’ve finished the entire mission they get the reward!
2. Dusting For Treasure
This game teaches kids to be thorough while dusting.
To play, you’ll need stickers or other small items to hide. For older kids, coins work, too.
- Go around the room and hide the treasure on surfaces that need dusting. Keep the hiding spots where your child is likely to see them without having to climb on furniture.
- If your kids are older, you can hide treasure underneath things, too. After all, decorations need to be picked up and dusted beneath now and then.
- Give your kids a dust cloth and turn them loose to start cleaning. If you want to make it more challenging, set a timer.
Be sure you keep track of how many items you’ve hidden, so you know when they’ve found them all.
3. Goodnight, Toys
This game teaches kids to make tidying their rooms part of their daily routine.
If you’ve ever read Goodnight, Moon to your kids, you know the basics of how to play this one. Essentially, you guide your child through putting away his or her toys by saying goodnight to them.
- For younger children, you’ll want to be specific. “Say goodnight to your blue stuffed bunny,” for instance.
- Older children can handle more generic descriptions. “Say goodnight to your cars,” for example, or “Say goodnight to your Legos.”
Once they’ve picked up their room, read a book together, or do some other quiet activity that will keep them interested in playing this game night after night.
4. I Spy…
This game helps children learn colors, shapes, and numbers.
To play this game, tell your child “I spy…” then describe an item they need to find and put away.
- For younger children, you’ll want to stick with one simple thing at a time. For example, “I spy a pair of pants on the floor!”
- Older kids can handle bigger challenges, like “I spy three blue things.”
The giggles alone are usually enough to motivate children to play this game, but you can always reward them with a favorite book or story after they’re done.
5. Smile, You’re On Camera!
This game helps children learn to clean thoroughly.
If your kid loves to ham it up for the camera, this game will put that trait to good use.
- To play, grab your phone and open the camera app. Tell your child you’re going to make a pretend cleaning infomercial in which they’re the star.
- Now, pick a surface for them to clean. Give them some soap and water — or one of my non-toxic homemade cleaning mixes — and have them show people how it’s done.
- As the commercial’s director, you can coach them if needed. “Uh-oh, looks like we missed a spot. Let’s show our viewers how thorough we can be.”
Be smart about whether you share it to social media, though. Respecting your kids’ privacy is important.
6. Beat The Parent
This game teaches kids to stay on task.
Sometimes, you’ve got housework to do and need to keep the kids occupied so you can do it. That’s the perfect time to get kids to help clean by playing this game.
- To play, write down 4 or 5 things you need to do, and an equal number for your child. Try to estimate the time required for both lists, and keep your child’s list shorter, so they’re guaranteed to win. That will keep them interested in playing again in the future.
- Again, a good rule is no more than 1 task for each year of your child’s age. So, your list might focus on washing dishes, wiping counters, and taking out the trash. Your child’s tasks might be picking up toys on the bedroom floor, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, and returning shoes to the closet.
- Give points for each task finished correctly. The one with the most points is the winner. (Pro tip: if they have to go back and redo something, suddenly “discover” that you need to repeat a chore, too, so they can still finish first.)
Need some ideas for tasks to use when playing these games to get kids cleaning? Check out these chores that kids can do for an age-appropriate printable list.