How To Teach Your Kids To Clean Their Own Rooms

DIY Site Curbly has an excellent post about teaching your kids to clean their own rooms.

The trick? First, make sure there’s a place for everything. Then, have the child pick up each item one at a time and if they can’t find or make a place for it, it has to go in the trash (or garage sale, or whatever.)

You know, now that we think about it, forget the kids. That’s advice we could all use. —MEGHANN MARCO

Teach your kids to clean their own rooms [Curbly]
(Photo: Curbly)


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  1. superlayne says:

    Ugh, never do that to a kid. My mother has nearly traumatized me by throwing out nearly everything that she doesn’t see a use for. I once found my prized, 70’s cookbook in the trash because she, thought I “didn’t want it because I left it in the kitchen.”


    You know.

    Cookbooks don’t go in the kitchen.

    Can you imagine all the screaming, crying, confused toddlers this would make?

  2. feralparakeet says:

    My folks always got us to clean up our rooms as kids by having my sister and I race to see who could get it done first. By the time we realized that we were being tricked into doing things we didn’t want to do, we were old enough to understand the threat of a belt to the butt and did it anyway.

    Though, now that I am safely many hours out of reach of my father, I have to admit that I only clean when company’s coming or I start tripping over things. I do still do the ultra white-glove cleaning for the parents if they’re coming to visit, but I think that’s got something to do with repressed memories of the consequences of my disobedience.

    I mean, who needs fancy-schmancy cleaning methodology when you’re trying to avoid a belt to the butt? Srsly.

  3. etinterrapax says:

    I knew someone whose parents gave them a choice: cleanliness or loss of privacy. The bottom line was that the room had to be clean, and if it was clean, no one but its owner would have to come in and clean it, but if it wasn’t clean, someone was coming to clean it, and was making all decisions thereto.

    I’d have been better off if that was my parents’ policy. I had to find out the hard way that a messy room severely compromises my ability to deal with my mental health issues. I’m always amused when people assume I clean because I like cleaning. I like being functional, that’s all. Plus, it’s frugal to be clean. Cuts down buying things twice. I get a lot of mileage vs. my assorted character flaws from that labor.

  4. Sudonum says:

    I just start repossessing electronic items. If you spend too much time talking on the phone, then you lose your cell phone until the room is clean. Ditto for TV, iPod or computer. Once your room is clean you get them back. Works for grades too!

  5. Crazytree says:

    try flagellation with an electrical cord.

  6. Imhotep says:

    @Meghann: What kids?
    There’s really no better way to conserve vital energy and resources, not to mention doing one’s part in helping reduce global warming. win=win=win =)

    Now if only them “god-fearing” folk would do their part and stop breeding!

  7. ShadeWalker says:

    i just got beat with a stick.

  8. I am more of an “if you don’t clean up your room, then your hamster is going to die, or favorite toy is going to get smashed” type of approach.

    Very effective and efficient.


  9. synergy says:

    Back in the stone ages when I was a kid, this was the rule not the exception. We also weren’t allowed to keep all the fun stuff in our room behind a door. No t.v., no video games, no phones. There were no computers back then otherwise those would’ve been out in the living room, too. Bedrooms were for sleeping and doing homework. Not cleaning meant, as someone else said, loss of privacy and loss of rights to use abovementioned fun stuff.

  10. Thrust says:

    It was nice being skilled with electronics and general construction (destruction). My parents could never ground me when I was a kid (at least, not for long) or things stopped working around the house…

    If they grounded me, I’d typically take away all the phone cords (pre-cordless), or the cable for the TV. If they took my stuff away, I’d take something of theirs until I got it back… Personal favorites are the time I stole the front door to the house and hid it at a friend’s place, or when I had the modem in the house computer continually dial the main phone line from 3am to 4am for like three nights straight (and I’d often sneak into their room and unplug the phone so they’d have to go elsewhere in the house to shut it up)…

    Never got physical because I could probably thump my dad better than he could get me, but there was a couple times he almost did… Like when me and a friend jacked up my mom’s van and removed all 4 wheels…

    Kids… Don’t be like Thrust or your parents may go OJ Simpson on yer ass.

  11. missdona says:

    I was so spoiled that my mom thought it “wasn’t fair to my friends to ground [me]”. Seriously.

    I got away with murder.

    It’s good to be an only child. I didn’t have anyone to play with, but my college was paid for.

  12. etinterrapax says:

    @synergy: Now they’re recommending having a “family computer” in a public area of the house, like the kitchen, that is for the kids’ use. That way, even if someone is not monitoring it directly, there is no perception of privacy about it. I suspect that’s the kind of arrangement we’ll make. I’m hoping we can strike a good balance between having electronics and having so many that everyone just retreats to his or her own room after dinner.

  13. polarogak says:

    I think you guys meant to post this on Lifehacker?

  14. mikyrok says:

    Thats how I clean my room now, if I can’t find a place for something, I first determine if I can trash something else to make room, if I don’t find anything I want less, I put it in the trash.

    When I was a kid I cleaned my room because I knew that not doing so when asked would be a good way to put myself in imminenent doom.

    What ever happened to the good old days when children feared their parents? Now they are treated like equals.. wtf?

  15. Greeper says:

    Part 3: Sing: “It’s put away time, it’s put away time. Pick up the toys and put them on the shelf….” (Kind of sounds like Silent Night). Ah, good times.

  16. @etinterrapax: My parents solved the problem by having four kids. There is no expectation of privacy when you’re in a house with five other people, three of whom are just DYING to tattle on you!

  17. pestie says:

    God, I love being kid-free!

  18. joemono says:

    @Greeper: You’ve just reminded me of the song we sang in kindergarten: It’s clean up time, it’s clean up time, it’s time to clean up now. I hope there’s more to it, but that’s all I can remember.

  19. rmz says:

    @Imhotep: Oh boy, you’re one of those oh-so-hip people who whine about the “breeders” and their “crotch droppings”? Your mother was a “god-fearing breeder” too.

    Unless, of course, your post was intended as satire. :)

  20. Mom2Talavera says:

    I have a similar approach but it expands to the whole house. My nuber #1 rule is “keep you shit in your room!” If I see anything of my daughter’s laying anywhere else in the house she loses it for good. She tested me a few times!
    When I actually drove her to the Goodwill to give her “donation” she knew mama wasn’t playing.

    /Shes 4
    // Shes evil

  21. etinterrapax says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Four in my family, too! Sheesh, even getting a turn to use a coveted thing like a computer was a privilege. And my brother and I have enough on each other to bring down the entire familial infrastructure, although knowing where he hid his porn when he was sixteen is not as valuable as it was fifteen years ago.

    Honestly, I think the concept of kids’ privacy is overrated. One of the few perks of being at home right now is that I know positively everything that goes on around here. I wouldn’t read my kid’s diary, but I’m not going to guarantee absolute communications privacy to my minor child.

  22. jeffeb3 says:

    we were bribed. We had to have our room cleaned every day for a year, and we got our own laptop. But as soon as the year was over, our rooms became nuclear waste sites.

    I think the only way you can get a kid to clen their room on a regular basis is to give them a complex….

  23. Mary says:

    When I was a junior in high school, I had a computer in my bedroom because my sister was off in Europe for the summer and her computer stayed in my room.

    Otherwise, the computer was in the living room, and anybody could look over your shoulder. This was the pre-internet world though, by the time the internet existed we had a “computer room” which was still fair game and you still had no privacy. And honestly I didn’t care at all.

    As for cleaning rooms, well my mom basically said if I kept my room clean I got an allowance I could spend any way I wanted. If I didn’t, I had to ask for anything I wanted to buy and clear it through her, and she would decide if I got it. I decided that I’d rather not clean my room, and never earned an allowance. My mom just shrugged and asked me not to leave dirty dishes in there.

    I think the book “It’s All Too Much” by Peter Walsh has a lot of fantastic advice for de-cluttering and organizing for the entire house, but it’s got a lot of great advice for dealing with kids and kids rooms. Caveat: I have no kids and thus my opinion is based on what I think would have worked on me as a child.