6 Super-Quick, Kid-Friendly Cleaning Tips to Try Today

girl cleaning up toy blocks

Every mom I know likes the idea of making her kids help clean up their own messes. Unfortunately, kids don’t always agree. But don’t give up hope! You can get them on board with a little creative thinking and by keeping one thing in mind: make it QUICK. Cheetah quick. Lightning quick. Olympic-sprinter quick. The quicker you clean, the less they’ll complain, and the more time you can spend doing...anything other than cleaning. Now, they might not do a perfect job, but at least it will be done, and if you play it right, you might even have a little fun in the process. Here are our top tips for tidying up with kids, lickety-split:


1. Preempt toy messes by having kids build with blocks and bricks on a spare sheet. When they’re done they can gather the whole thing up in a snap (bonus: knot the ends together for easy storage!) instead of whining about picking up millions of individual pieces. 

2. Break up chores into small chunks that last the length of favorite songs. Challenge them to put away all their toys during one song and then sweep crumbs during another. This way, no one can accuse you of making them clean “for.ev.er.” 

3. For kids who love pretend play, give them their own cleaning caddies stocked with Bounty paper towels, feather dusters, and pint-sized brooms and let them pretend to be maids in a fancy mansion. (If they’re quick, they’ll have time to dress up and go to the ball!) 

4. Use painter’s tape to section off portions of big rooms so kids don’t get overwhelmed by all the space there is to cover. Set a timer for cleaning one small portion at a time to keep things moving.   

5. Tidy and clean as a team, so no one feels like they’re working alone. Have your kid gather stuffed animals while you arrange them neatly on the shelf. Put the little kid in charge of matching the socks and the big kid in charge of folding them together. One person sweeps while another holds the dustpan. Teamwork!

6. Plan something fun for the period immediately after the cleaning’s done. Open with, “Let’s get your room picked up before movie night starts!” and then fantasize about the snack menu while you’re working.

What are your best tricks for getting kids to clean up quickly?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.  

Image ©iStock.com/wundervisuals

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