Creative Ways to Get Kids to Clean

It’s just an average day in my house. There are toys everywhere, and it’s almost time for bed. I tell my son to put all his toys back before bed. His typical response: “NO!!! I don’t want to! AAAHHHH!!!!!” If you can relate to this story, you know how exhausting this is to hear every day. We’ve come up with several games to make cleaning up easier. Some I came up with, some are from my childhood and some are from y sister-in-law. With all this variety, there should be something here your child will love.


  • Guess what is gone – I remember doing this several times as a child. My sister and I would sit in our disaster of a room. I’d close my eyes while she picked up a toy. I then opened my eyes and tried to guess what she’d put away. Then we’d switch. My son loves this game. Plus; it’s a game where I actually get to sit down for a few minutes. Gotta love that!
  • See how fast!! – Being a boy, my son thinks running makes anything better. If we turn cleaning into a game to see how fast he can do it, he’s more willing to “play.” I count while he cleans and no matter how long it takes, I say “Wow! That was so fast!”
  • Clean like a  ____ – Tell your kids to pretend be a certain animal while they clean. For example: If they are a bunny, they have to hop while they clean. If they are a dog, they have to walk on all fours.
  • Do it in a fun way – Have your kids hop on one foot, or walk backwards, etc.
  • The timer – Set the timer for no more than 5 minutes and see if they can beat the timer and have the room cleaned.
  • Competition –  Have each pick an area (including the parent) and see who can finish their area first.
  • Create fun scenarios –  “Quick the volcano has erupted and the lava is flowing toward us! Pick up those books before they burn! Oh no, it’s still coming down the stairs, quick we have to clean up this room next!” Sometimes when we are cleaning, my son suddenly screams “Mom! You are standing in the ocean! Be careful!”
  • Counting – Have each child put however old they are number of things away. Repeat until the space is clean. This is great when friends are over and it is time to clean up the play area.
  • The greedy gobbler – He shows up and eats toys that aren’t put away. Use him when you have repeatedly asked for a space to be cleaned and it isn’t. Give a warning though. “In 20 minutes the Greedy Gobbler is coming down there. Only put away the things you want to keep. If you don’t want it, leave it out and he’ll eat it.”
  • Tape – Tape off sections of the room with masking tape on the floor. Assign each child a section to clean.
  • Walk the line – Have everyone line up and walk straight. Whatever they run into that is out of place must quickly be put away. Shift the line and repeat until the room is tidy.



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3 Responses to “Creative Ways to Get Kids to Clean”

  1. Grandma Linda
    September 22, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Love these ideas. (And yes, some of them sound very familiar). Here’s another: “Trade Spaces” works best for older kids. Mom and kids draw each others’ names from a hat/bowl/box. You have to clean up the room of the person whose name you draw. Naturally, some person’s space will be cleaner than others. So, repeat this rotation until everyone has a fair experience over time. And clean up means putting everything in a box or basket. Then the owner has to tell the story of why one item in the box was out and how it was used. Rate the stories/reasons/uses from 1-10 as a group.


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