Cleaning Checklist for Kids’ Rooms

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Kids don’t know how to clean their rooms, no matter how many times they’ve watched or helped you do it.

A young female sits in the middle of a very messy bedroom with her hands on her face and a shocked expression.

Does this sound familiar? You tell your kids to clean their rooms. After a while, they say it’s clean. You check, but their room looks no different—it might even look worse. The problem is that kids do not know what cleaning involves, no matter how many times they’ve watched you do it. In their minds, putting away a few toys and pulling the bedspread over rumpled sheets is enough. You know it takes more than that, though.

Before You Begin

It’s best to go through this cleaning checklist with your child for the first time or two. You can answer questions and see if any steps are too hard. After you’ve used the checklist together twice, let them try cleaning their room independently, but pop in a few times in case they’re stuck. Before long, your child will clean their room unsupervised, and you can spend your time doing something you enjoy.

Steps to Clean a Kid’s Bedroom

How long it takes to clean a child’s bedroom varies with how messy it is. You may want first declutter toys, so there’s less to deal with. After that, it can take a couple of hours for the first time if it’s been a wreck for a while. But the more often they clean their room, the quicker it is to do.

Equipment and Materials

  • Bags for trash
  • Boxes for items to donate
  • Laundry basket for things that belong elsewhere
  • Cleaning rags or microfiber cloths
  • Non-toxic DIY furniture polish
  • DIY Glass cleaner
  • Fresh bedsheets and pillowcases
  • A vacuum cleaner with attachments

Step 1. Pick up trash.

Work to the right from the door. Pick up all trash and put it in the bag. Open drawers and look for stuff to throw away. Once you’ve gone around the room, look under the bed and in the closet. Set the bag outside the bedroom door for now.

Step 2. Find things that belong elsewhere in your home.

Use the laundry basket to collect things like dishes, towels, and other items that go somewhere else in your home. Working in the same order, start at the door and move to the right, then look under the bed and in the closet. Leave the basket outside the bedroom door, too.

Step 3. Clear the floor.

It’s hard to clean a room if there’s stuff all over the floor. So, pick up toys and put them away. Add toys that are never played with and outgrown toys to the donation box. Next, pick up dirty clothes and put them in the hamper. Put clean clothes and shoes in the closet.

Step 4. Tidy the flat surfaces.

Declutter and tidy the dresser top, desk, nightstand, and shelves. Continue throwing away trash or adding items to the donation box as you find them. For the things you decide to leave sitting out, make sure they’re in a spot which makes sense. It helps to think of the bedroom as being a group of activity zones. The desk is for schoolwork and art, for example. Jewelry, baseball hats, and brushes or combs go on or in the dresser. The nightstand is for things needed before, during, or immediately after getting into bed. Keeping things in their zones helps keep a room tidy.

Step 5. Dust and then polish furniture.

Use a damp cleaning rag to wipe dust off of surfaces and rinse it often. A damp cloth works best to remove dust from your home because it holds onto dirt that a dry cloth would scatter. If you want to polish furniture, do so after dusting and use a dry cloth sprayed with furniture polish.

Step 6. Clean the glass surfaces.

Use a clean, dry cloth and window spray on glass surfaces. Switch to a fresh cloth if the one you’re using begins to feel damp or you’ll leave streaks. Work your way around the room, starting at the door and clean any picture fronts, glass decor, and mirrors.

Step 7. Change the bed.

Pull off the bed cover, sheets, and pillowcases. Make the bed with fresh linens and put the used ones outside the door. Don’t add too many pillows or stuffed animals or it will take longer to make the bed every morning, an essential daily task for a tidy-looking room.

Step 8. Vacuum the floor.

Vacuuming is best for both carpets and hard floors because it removes more dust from your home. Don’t leave small objects on the floor, they can damage your machine. To vacuum a bedroom, start at the door and work to the left, moving the vacuum slowly in overlapping strokes. If you have carpet, turn at a right angle and go over the floor again so you’re properly vacuuming it.

Step 9. Finishing touches.

Take your dirty sheets to the laundry room. Take the trash to the garbage can. Put away things that belong elsewhere in your home and stick the donation box in the car for a charity drop off next time you’re out of the house.

How Often Should Kids Clean Their Rooms?

Toddlers thrive on routines, so picking up toys daily before bed or while playing a cleaning game helps them learn to take care of their things. For older kids, weekly bedroom cleaning keeps their rooms tidy while teaching them good life habits. But parenting experts recommend ignoring teenagers’ messy rooms as long as they don’t pose a health issue.

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  1. Another tip I read somewhere (I wish I could remember where, because the guy should be given full credit!) anyhow, for kids who become easily overwhelmed when presented with a room that is in disarray and needs to be cleaned… Most of the time, it’s the overwhelming “stuff” that puts kids (and adults) into full on “I can’t do this” mode. Once the stuff is put away, the rest of the cleaning is easier.

    Take a basket and put it in the middle of the floor. This is the “inbox” go around the room and put everything that needs to be picked up into the basket (no matter what it is – no decision is made at this point – everything goes into the basket). If the basket gets full, put the overflow around the outside of the basket.

    Once everything has been picked up, then and only then you start to put away. Remember everything should be in this pile!

    Next: This is very important: Take one thing at a time (only one!) and put it away in its place, put it in the trash, or put it in a box to be taken to another room.

    This requires less by way of decision making so it’s not such a huge mountain to climb for them. It’s much easier to decide what to do with only one thing than it is to look at a room and say “OMG I have to put ALL this away… I can’t do it!

    This can be translated to any person in the house who has problems starting a clean up. It might work. It might not. Worth trying it. 🙂

    1. Katie Berry says:

      My mother did something very similar when I was little. Basically, she’d wait until I was at school then dump every drawer in the middle of my room. On top of this, she’d throw everything that was on the floor of my closet or on top of my desk, dresser or nightstand. Then she’d tell me to put things away properly, one at a time.

      You can imagine my attitude toward cleaning when I was a kid as a result, LOL!

    2. Um – I think this proves, it’s all in how the project is presented… 😉

    3. Katie Berry says:

      Most definitely! LOL

    4. I actually did this when I was a kid, when I rearranged my room, everything went on the bed. Then I put stuff away where I wanted it to go.

    5. Katie Berry says:

      That’s still one of my favorite ways to completely declutter and organize a room. If I can’t think of a place for something, I probably don’t need it so out it goes!

    6. This is such a good idea my 7yr old gets overwhelmed easily thanks

    7. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome!

  2. Hmm… I’ve never tried this. As a kid I remember being told “go clean your room” and then being unsure what my mom expected. I’ve been using the same approach with my boys and not been happy with the results. I think your approach might be worth considering. Thanks.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome! I had to come up with *something* since my son’s version of cleaning his room and my version are so drastically different. Hint: his involves shoving everything under the bed. Aaaack!

  3. Katie Berry says:

    Checklists really are great for kids, aren’t they?

  4. Thank you so much! My children’s idea of cleaning their rooms involves pulling OUT the Lego’s. Talk about AAAACK factor. I needed something to help.

    1. This helped

  5. Mini Clean says:

    This is a good thing. Kids should really be train to do some cleaning. If they do this tips and make it a habit they will eventually bring that until they grow old. Thanks for posting.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I agree. Kids tend to be the main source of mess, and it’s good for them to learn how to clean after themselves rather than take for granted that it’s Mom’s job to do it.

    2. Mini Clean says:

      I totally agree with you.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m glad you like it, Susan!

  6. Thank you for sharing your wonderful parenting and cleaning tips for kids with us at Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop

    Olivia, co-hostess

    Reinvented Collection

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you for hosting!

  7. This might help us! My kids definitely struggle with figuring out where to start and then getting overwhelmed by too much. Saving this for sure!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Using a checklist really does help them stay on track, and they feel so proud of themselves when they’re done!

  8. Chantelle @ Tale of a Mompreneur says:

    This is a wonderful method, I’m going to have to give it a try with my four little ones! Thanks for the free printable as well!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome!

  9. Jessica Ryles says:

    We do the same thing in our house. The kids love knowing exactly what is expected, and it makes everything so much easier!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It really does make the whole “clean your room” process less painful for everyone, doesn’t it?

  10. What a great checklist! We are always struggling to keep my 9 year old’s room clean! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Getting it clean seems to be easier than keeping it clean. LOL

  11. Jennifer Staples says:

    This checklist for cleaning a kids room is absolutely wonderful! I give it to my daughter every week and her room gets cleaned with no arguments! She even asks for me to print it off if I forget. BTW, she asked me to tell you that the new version is even better than before. Thanks for making my life a little easier!

  12. Okay so im a tween who cleans my own room the only problem is im lazy when it comes to thing like that. Do you have any tips for lazy tweens-teens or lazy people in general when it comes to cleaning?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      My best advice is to listen to your mother.

  13. What a great idea!!! I’m going to print this off and laminate it. We do the inbox as well. My 8 year old gets overwhelmed and he always asks for help cleaning his room – but what he’s really looking for is direction and this just may be the key!!! I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you, Nadine! I think you’re absolutely right — kids just need a bit of direction, and it always seems to help when we can hand them something like a checklist which they can read and follow step by step. Please let me know how it goes!

  14. Kimberly Rudder says:

    I think cleaning the kids room is the most stressful. I start feeling sorry for them so I go to help and….. well….. I started to noticing that I would be all alone cleaning while they either sat in one corner playing or day dreaming. My 8 year old likes to pick up a tiny piece of paper and take 10 min to carry it to the trash can and that’s with me having a trash bag in there. They start taking advantage of me. To the point of being very disrespectful, see me sweeping drop crumbs on the floor or throw trash down and say here’s some more. Mopping walk all over the wet Floor and “accidentally” spill something. Just the other day I had cleaned their room while they were in school I mean really good. Thought I’d surprise them. Folded clothes put ones that gang up on hanger pj’s folded in a pile underwear socks in a pile you know made piles of where each drawer they went into no confusion no Hassel, open pj drawer put the stack in move to next stack etc. Later that night I open closet door the 8 yr old had took all the clothes and threw them into the closet!?. I was infuriated because when asked why he would do that he says you cleaned everything else you should’ve finished it. I wanted to do what I wanted to do. Besides cleaning is your job. At that point I emptied every drawer in the floor as well as every toy box and said it will be waiting on you when you get home t9morrow from school. So I’m going to try this routine out. I get overwhelmed with 3 kids and having to do all the house duties. 8, 5, and 2 so it’s mess after mess. Never ends I’m always behind.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Cleaning kids’ rooms is definitely stressful for the parents. Add to that the way your son treated you and, yes, I completely sympathize with your frustration. And you DO sound frustrated! I’m reluctant to give parenting advice when someone didn’t ask for it, but maybe it’s time to take a break from trying to surprise your son since he’s not grateful for or appreciative of your efforts? Hand him a checklist, tell him that cleaning his room is his responsibility now, but you expect it to be done and done correctly. You should decide what consequences you want to attach to a room that’s not cleaned properly and be prepared to stick to your guns. Kids test limits — that’s kind of their job. Once they understand the limits are firm and consistent, they tend to fall in line. Best of luck and many hugs to you, Mama.

  15. Richa Choudhary says:

    This is a great post.i loved the steps mentioned but havent tried it. Will definitely come back once i try and succeed. But Thanks for sharing 🙂 I am following you from Pinterest, please do check my profile 🙂

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you!

  16. This really helped.Do you have any for a bathroom or living room.

  17. We are lucky because my kids have fairly small rooms and after decluttering, a lot less stuff. But I do have to get onto teaching them how to dust, change sheets and vacuum though. This checklist is a great way to do that!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thanks, Jane!

  18. Nicole Roy says:

    From what age should a child be able to do this? I have 6 year old twins and a 4 year old (and a new baby on the way). One of the twins is very messy and the other very organised. They share a room….if I asked them to do this one would contribute a lot more than the other!?! Is 6 too young? At the moment they are responsible for tidying up their clothes/toys, packing away folded washing and occasionally they make their beds in the morning!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      First off, wow, being a mom of twins has got to be hard! I’m not a twin mom — I had a few years between kids — so I can’t honestly give you advice on the whole twinning thing. But I have had two six-year-olds (even if there was a gap between them) and mine were completely different in temperaments and cleanliness. I initially created this checklist for my oldest when she was 8, and she was the tidy one. My youngest didn’t start following it without supervision until he was 10.

      That said, you might want just to spend some time working together with BOTH of them to go through this. Weekly? Maybe not. That’s asking a lot out of a mom who’s already doing so much just managing twins. Monthly seems fair — but let THEM choose who does vacuuming, who does dusting, etc.

      But, as the Mom, make sure they’re doing an equal number of steps. That way neither twin winds up doing the other’s work and both benefit from having a clean room. (And, after all that work, I bet the Tidy One will know how to nag the Messy One into doing his/her share. Twins are the first form of peer pressure, after all.)

      Good luck to you, Nicole, and please check back in with future questions or to update us on your progress!

  19. This was perfect!!!!! Even I use this and it’s so helpful!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m glad you like it!

  20. Leah Michelle Humerickhouse says:

    Is there any way to edit these checklist to personalize to my kids? Love these checklists

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Leah,

      Sorry, but I don’t have that kind of setup. 🙂