Cleaning Tips for Families with Children: Managing the Mess

Keeping a clean and organised home is essential for any family, but it becomes even more crucial when children are involved. Managing the mess can be a daunting task, requiring a combination of regular cleaning routines and smart strategies. From daily tidying to monthly deep cleaning, implementing effective cleaning tips can help families maintain a tidy and welcoming living environment. Additionally, for those who are renting their homes, the end of tenancy cleaning becomes an important aspect to ensure a smooth transition. In this guide, we will explore various cleaning tips specifically designed for families with children, including strategies for managing the mess and even addressing the unique needs of end of tenancy cleaning.

Establishing Routines

A. Daily Cleaning Tasks

  1. Making beds: Start the day by teaching your children the importance of making their beds. This simple task not only creates a tidy and organised bedroom but also instills a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
  2. Picking up toys and clutter: Encourage children to pick up their toys and put them away after playing. Designate specific storage bins or shelves for different types of toys to make cleanup easier and more organised. Teach them the concept of tidying up after themselves to maintain a clutter-free living space.
  3. Wiping down surfaces: Establish a habit of wiping down surfaces regularly, such as kitchen countertops, dining tables, and bathroom sinks. Provide child-safe cleaning wipes or a damp cloth for children to help with this task. Emphasise the importance of cleanliness and hygiene in preventing the spread of germs.

B. Weekly Cleaning Tasks

  1. Vacuuming and mopping floors: Dedicate a specific day of the week for vacuuming and mopping the floors. Make it a family activity by assigning different areas or rooms to each family member. Children can help by using handheld vacuums for smaller spaces or by assisting with moving furniture to ensure thorough cleaning.
  2. Dusting furniture and shelves: Dust accumulates quickly, especially in households with children. Teach children how to use a microfiber cloth or feather duster to remove dust from furniture, shelves, and other surfaces. Make it a fun activity by turning it into a “seek and destroy” game, challenging them to find hidden dust and eliminate it.
  3. Cleaning bathrooms and kitchen: Choose a day each week to focus on cleaning bathrooms and the kitchen. Assign tasks based on age-appropriate abilities. Children can assist in wiping down sinks, mirrors, and countertops, while older children can help with scrubbing the toilet or cleaning the stovetop. Ensure that cleaning products used are safe for children and provide appropriate personal protective equipment if necessary.

C. Monthly Deep Cleaning Tasks

  1. Decluttering and organising closets and storage areas: Dedicate a day each month for decluttering and organising closets, storage areas, and playrooms. Sort through clothes, toys, and other items, donating or discarding those no longer needed. Teach children the importance of letting go of items they have outgrown or no longer use.
  2. Cleaning windows and curtains: Windows and curtains can accumulate dust and dirt over time. Set aside time to clean windows inside and out, using child-safe cleaning solutions. Vacuum or wash curtains according to their care instructions. Children can assist by wiping down windowsills or helping with removing and rehanging curtains.
  3. Steam cleaning carpets and upholstery: Carpets and upholstery can harbour dirt, stains, and odours. Schedule a monthly deep cleaning using a steam cleaner or hire professional services. Involve children by teaching them how to spot-clean spills and stains and explaining the process of steam cleaning.

By establishing these routines, families can maintain a clean and organised home while teaching children valuable life skills and fostering a sense of responsibility for their environment.

Involving Children in Cleaning

A. Age-appropriate tasks

  1. Sorting and folding laundry: Teach children how to sort laundry by colour or fabric type and involve them in folding clothes. Younger children can match socks or fold smaller items, while older children can take on more responsibility by folding larger items like shirts and pants. This not only helps with the cleaning process but also teaches them valuable skills for personal care and organisation.
  2. Setting the table: Involve children in setting the table for meals. Teach them how to place utensils, plates, and napkins in the correct positions. This task promotes a sense of responsibility and encourages them to contribute to the family’s daily routines.
  3. Putting away toys: Teach children to clean up after themselves by putting away their toys once they are done playing. Assign specific storage areas or bins for different types of toys to make the task easier. Encourage them to take ownership of their belongings and maintain an organised play area.

B. Making cleaning fun

  1. Turning cleaning tasks into games: Transform mundane cleaning tasks into exciting games. For example, you can challenge children to see who can pick up and put away toys the fastest or turn dusting into a treasure hunt by hiding stickers or small surprises for them to find. This gamification approach makes cleaning enjoyable and encourages active participation.
  2. Using colourful and child-friendly cleaning tools: Provide children with their own set of colourful, child-sized cleaning tools. Small brooms, dustpans, mops, or spray bottles with water can make cleaning feel like a fun and engaging activity. Opt for eco-friendly and non-toxic cleaning products to ensure their safety.
  3. Rewarding children for their efforts: Recognise and reward children for their contributions to the cleaning tasks. This can be done through verbal praise, stickers, small treats, or a special privilege. Acknowledging their efforts and progress not only motivates them to continue participating but also instills a sense of pride in their accomplishments.

By involving children in cleaning tasks, you teach them essential life skills, promote a sense of responsibility, and foster a positive attitude towards cleanliness. Making cleaning fun and age-appropriate helps them develop good habits and strengthens the bond between family members as everyone works together towards a clean and organised home.

Storage and Organisation

A. Utilising storage solutions

  1. Toy bins and baskets: Use colourful and easily accessible toy bins and baskets to store and organise toys. Designate specific bins for different types of toys, such as blocks, dolls, or puzzles. This makes it easier for children to find and put away their toys, promoting a neat and clutter-free play area.
  2. Shelving units and bookcases: Install shelving units or bookcases to provide vertical storage space. Use them to display books, toys, or decorative items. Incorporate adjustable shelves to accommodate items of various sizes. This not only maximises storage capacity but also adds an aesthetic element to the room.
  3. Wall hooks and hanging organisers: Install wall hooks or hanging organisers in entryways or bedrooms to keep items off the floor and easily accessible. Use hooks for hanging coats, backpacks, or hats, and hanging organisers for storing shoes, scarves, or small accessories. This helps maintain a tidy and organised space while ensuring easy retrieval of frequently used items.

B. Implementing labelling systems

  1. Clear labels for storage containers: Use clear labels on storage containers to identify their contents. This allows children to easily locate and return items to their designated places. Clear labels are especially helpful for older children who can read and organise their belongings independently.
  2. Picture labels for younger children: For younger children who may not be able to read yet, incorporate picture labels. Attach pictures or illustrations representing the items stored in each container. This visual cue helps them understand and follow the organisation system, making it easier for them to put away their belongings.

C. Creating designated spaces for belongings

  1. Homework area: Designate a specific area or desk for children to complete their homework or engage in creative activities. Equip the space with necessary supplies such as pencils, paper, and organisers for stationery. This dedicated area not only promotes focus and productivity but also ensures that homework materials are stored in one place.
  2. Shoe rack or cubby for shoes: Create a designated space for shoes near the entryway. Install a shoe rack or cubby system to keep shoes organised and prevent them from cluttering the floor. Encourage children to remove their shoes upon entering the house and place them in their designated spot.
  3. Backpack hooks or designated storage area: Assign backpack hooks or a designated storage area where children can hang their backpacks. This eliminates the habit of dropping backpacks on the floor and ensures that they are readily accessible for school or other activities. Additionally, incorporate compartments or hooks for storing other school-related items such as lunch boxes or jackets.

By utilising storage solutions, implementing labelling systems, and creating designated spaces for belongings, families can maintain a clutter-free environment and make it easier for children to locate and put away their items. These organisational strategies not only promote tidiness but also teach children valuable skills in organisation and responsibility.

Stain and Spill Management

A. Quick response to spills

  1. Blotting stains immediately: Teach children the importance of acting quickly when spills occur. Show them how to blot stains with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb as much of the liquid as possible. Avoid rubbing the stain, as it can spread and make the situation worse.
  2. Using appropriate cleaning products: Depending on the type of stain, use appropriate cleaning products for effective removal. Keep child-safe cleaning solutions or stain removers on hand specifically formulated for different types of stains. Make sure to read and follow the instructions on the product label to avoid damaging the fabric or surface.

B. Common stain removal techniques

  1. Removing food and beverage stains: Food and beverage spills are common in households with children. For fresh stains, start by blotting the excess liquid. For solid or semi-solid stains, gently scrape off any residue using a spoon or a blunt knife. Treat the stain by applying a stain remover or a mixture of mild detergent and water. Allow the solution to sit on the stain for a few minutes, then blot or gently rub the stain with a clean cloth. Rinse the area with water and blot dry.
  2. Treating ink and crayon marks: Ink and crayon marks can find their way onto various surfaces. For hard surfaces like countertops or walls, use rubbing alcohol or an ink stain remover. Apply the solution to a clean cloth and gently dab the stain until it lifts. For fabric, place a clean cloth underneath the stained area and blot the stain with rubbing alcohol or a stain remover specifically designed for ink stains. Rinse the fabric with cold water and launder as usual.
  3. Dealing with pet accidents: Accidents from pets can leave stains and odours behind. For urine stains on carpets or upholstery, start by blotting up as much liquid as possible. Then, apply an enzymatic cleaner specifically formulated for pet stains. Follow the product instructions for the best results. For solid waste, remove it with gloves and a plastic bag. Clean the area with an appropriate pet stain remover or a mixture of mild detergent and water. Rinse thoroughly and blot dry.

It’s important to note that different stains may require specific techniques or specialised cleaning products. If unsure about the appropriate stain removal method, refer to manufacturer guidelines, consult with professionals, or test the cleaning product on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the stain. By promptly addressing spills and stains, families can effectively manage messes and maintain a clean and presentable living environment.

Managing Paperwork and Artwork

A. Sorting and organising paperwork

  1. Setting up a filing system: Establish a filing system to manage and organise important paperwork. Use file folders or binders to categorise documents such as school records, medical records, financial statements, and household documents. Label each folder or binder clearly to easily locate and retrieve specific documents when needed.
  2. Utilising digital storage options: Embrace digital storage options to reduce physical clutter and preserve important documents. Scan and save important paperwork, receipts, and documents to a secure cloud storage platform or external hard drive. Create digital folders and subfolders to mimic your physical filing system for easy access and organisation.

B. Displaying and preserving children’s artwork

  1. Creating a gallery wall: Showcase your children’s artwork by creating a gallery wall in a designated area of your home. Use colourful frames or clipboards to display their artwork. Regularly rotate the displayed pieces to give each child’s artwork a chance to be showcased. This not only celebrates their creativity but also adds a personal touch to your home decor.
  2. Using storage folders or binders: Keep a selection of storage folders or binders specifically for preserving children’s artwork. Label each folder with their name and the year or grade level to maintain a chronological order. Place the artwork in the folders, ensuring that they are stored in a cool and dry place to prevent damage. Consider using acid-free sheet protectors to protect delicate pieces.

Managing paperwork and artwork not only helps keep your home organised but also allows you to easily locate important documents and cherish your children’s creative achievements. By implementing a filing system for paperwork and finding creative ways to display and store artwork, you can maintain a clutter-free environment while preserving cherished memories.

Creating a Cleaning Schedule

A. Tailoring the schedule to fit the family’s needs

When creating a cleaning schedule, it’s important to consider the unique needs and dynamics of your family. Take into account factors such as work schedules, school routines, extracurricular activities, and any other commitments. A flexible approach allows you to customise the cleaning schedule to fit your family’s lifestyle and ensure it is manageable and realistic.

B. Allocating specific time slots for cleaning tasks

Divide the cleaning tasks into manageable time slots throughout the week. Determine which tasks need to be done daily, weekly, or monthly, and assign them to specific days or times. Consider the availability and energy levels of family members during those time slots. For example, weekdays may be dedicated to lighter tasks like tidying up and wiping down surfaces, while weekends can be allocated for more extensive cleaning like vacuuming and mopping.

C. Assigning responsibilities to family members

Involve all family members in the cleaning process by assigning specific responsibilities. Each family member can have their own cleaning tasks or be assigned to work together on certain tasks. Distribute age-appropriate tasks and encourage children to take ownership of their assigned chores. Rotating responsibilities periodically can prevent monotony and allow everyone to learn different cleaning skills.

Additionally, consider setting a time limit for each task to maintain efficiency. This helps prevent tasks from taking longer than necessary and ensures that everyone understands the expected completion time. Keep in mind that flexibility is key, as unforeseen circumstances may arise, and adjustments to the schedule may be needed.

Regularly review and adjust the cleaning schedule as needed. As your family’s routines and commitments change, the cleaning schedule may need to be adapted accordingly. By creating a cleaning schedule that is tailored to your family’s needs, allocating specific time slots, and assigning responsibilities, you can establish a routine that ensures the maintenance of a clean and organised home while minimising stress and workload.

Tips for Maintaining a Clean and Organised Home

A. Encouraging daily maintenance habits

  1. Wiping down surfaces: Make it a habit to quickly wipe down surfaces such as kitchen counters, tables, and bathroom sinks on a daily basis. This prevents the buildup of dust, dirt, and grime, keeping your home looking clean and fresh.
  2. Making beds: Encourage everyone in the family to make their beds each morning. This simple task instantly makes bedrooms look neater and sets a positive tone for the day. It also instills a sense of responsibility and promotes a tidy living space.
  3. Putting away belongings: Encourage family members to put away their belongings after use. Teach children to return toys to their designated storage areas, hang up jackets, and place shoes in the designated shoe rack or cubby. By instilling the habit of tidying up after themselves, you can maintain a clutter-free home.

B. Regular decluttering and purging

  1. Set aside time for decluttering: Schedule regular decluttering sessions to go through different areas of your home. Set aside a specific time, such as once a month or every season, to assess belongings and decide what to keep, donate, or discard.
  2. Sort items into categories: Divide belongings into categories such as “keep,” “donate,” or “discard.” Be mindful of items that are no longer used or serve a purpose. Letting go of unnecessary items helps create more space and reduces clutter.
  3. Organise storage areas: Ensure that storage areas such as closets, cabinets, and drawers are organised and labeled. This makes it easier to locate items when needed and prevents clutter from accumulating. Use storage bins, dividers, and other organising tools to maximise space and maintain order.

C. Implementing a “clean as you go” mindset

  1. Wash dishes immediately: Encourage family members to wash dishes or load them into the dishwasher right after use. This prevents dirty dishes from piling up, reduces the risk of pests, and keeps the kitchen clean and inviting.
  2. Clean spills and messes promptly: Adopt a “clean as you go” mindset by addressing spills and messes as soon as they happen. Promptly wiping up spills, crumbs, or stains helps prevent them from becoming more difficult to clean later.
  3. Tidy up before bedtime: Establish a routine of tidying up common areas before bedtime. Encourage family members to put away items, straighten cushions, and organise any clutter. Waking up to a clean and organised space sets a positive tone for the day ahead.

By encouraging daily maintenance habits, regularly decluttering and purging, and implementing a “clean as you go” mindset, you can maintain a clean and organised home with minimal effort. These practices foster a sense of pride in the living space and create a more comfortable and enjoyable environment for the entire family.


In conclusion, managing the mess in a household with children requires a combination of practical strategies and a proactive mindset. By establishing routines, involving children in cleaning, implementing storage and organisation solutions, effectively managing stains and spills, creating a cleaning schedule, and maintaining daily habits, families can maintain a clean and organised home. Additionally, regular decluttering, purging, and adopting a “clean as you go” mindset contribute to a more pleasant living environment. By implementing these tips and techniques, families can strike a balance between managing the inevitable mess that comes with children and enjoying a tidy, welcoming space for everyone to thrive in. With a little effort and consistency, a clean and organised home is within reach for every family.

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