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How to Teach Your Kids to Clean Up

I’m going to provide some of the things I’ve been doing to teach my son about cleaning up. I’m hoping you can provide us with your own tips on how you taught your own kids about the art of cleaning up after you get through reading mine 🙂

He’s taken over the living room area!

My husband is such a neat freak that he has really been on me to make sure to be consistent with teaching my son about the importance of cleaning up as well. So far my little guy has been doing a great job! Here are a few things I’ve done:

1) Organize toys

I started by organizing all of my son’s toys according to how I think he would choose to play with them. Sometimes he’s in the mood to play with his cars and sometimes it’s with his trucks. Sometimes it’s both. Sometimes it’s with his Toy Story toys. Sometimes he wants to play with his Disney Cars and Planes. You get the picture, right?

This helps him understand organization. If he puts them away in their proper places, he knows he can find them more easily.

2) Do not let your kid pull out more toys unless they’ve put others that are no longer being played with away

My son was getting to the point where he would just start pulling everything out at and before we knew it, there would be no room left for anyone to hang out. He seemed to have been taking over the entire house!

We used to have major temper tantrums about this part. No matter what, DO NOT let him win. If you allow his temper tantrum to get to you, he will use it to his advantage the next time you try this trick.

3) Make it fun.

Cleanup doesn’t have to feel like a chore or something that isn’t nice. My son learned a special song from Gymboree, where they sing “cleanup! cleanup! Everybody, everywhere! Cleanup! Cleanup!” that’s all I could actually remember from it and that’s all he ever sings, but you get the point. We sing this song every time we put toys away so that he can learn to appreciate it.

4) Share your enthusiasm

Kids love to get a reaction, especially from their own parents. Show a little excitement and let them know that what they’ve done is a really good thing. Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to get your kids to do something because they want to please you. It’s a great way to get them motivated.

5) Avoid having the TV or other distractions around during the cleanup process

It’s important for your child to understand why they need to cleanup. Having distractions during the process will not only prolong the cleaning up, but it may also keep their focus away from the reason they need to do it in the first place.

Surely you’ve got your own special tricks and ways of getting your child to pick up their toys and things. Would you mind sharing?

Lexie Lane

Lexie Lane is the creator of voiceBoks.com, owner of Social Media Panel, and co-author of the book, The Blogger's Survival Guide Tips and Tricks for Parent Bloggers Wordsmiths and Enthusiasts.


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  • that’s the hardest part, teach kids with the cleaning. But you must give him/her appreciation in his/her doings and also you must give what he/she wants

  • I tried to make it seem fun for my daughter to clean up toys and she wasn’t convinced, lol. But when I told her she couldn’t get more out until she put the others back, then she started cleaning. 🙂

  • Arranging toys can really help as this orients him on the ease of finding stuff when properly sorted. It would also nice to make cleaning be like a game.

  • I helped both kids rooms for the last time this weekend.. I told them if it gets crazy again, it just get donated simple as that.. We also got rid of any extra toys and clothes.. so there’s nothing really to get really really crazy.. that helps.. now If I can just get my husband trained.. we’re good to go!

  • Great tips! It reminded me of what my mom used to do to trick me into liking certain chores. Whenever it came to match socks (a job that nobody likes) she would get all excited and say we were going to have a sock party! To this day I still enjoy matching socks and my husband laughs at me 🙂

  • As the mum of three I have tried these things some worked some of the time, my second daughter Natasha loved to help clean and still loves to clean my eldest had her moments but my youngest was terrible she hated to clean and still hates to clean and is often quiet frustrating

  • I showed him how to become neat and tidy with my personal things. He followed me and mimic my actions while cleaning. So my son enjoyed cleaning and returning his toys from his toy box.

  • My kids are grown but this is something I began teaching them very early. One other thing that I would point out is that having to many toys is always a disaster waiting to happen. If they got a new toy they had to donate one they already had. This made them choose very wisely what they really wanted.

  • My ten year old gets pocket money. You could call it bribery, but she is saving up her money to buy an iPad mini, so she is happy to do jobs and work for it. My seven year old and five year old are expected to tidy up after themselves. They have been made aware that if they don’t respect their toys and keep their rooms tidy, then they can’t expect to keep these toys. I have been known to take a black sack up to their rooms and fill it up with discarded items. They earn them back, of course (I’m not that mean), through good behaviour.