Kids Hate Spring Cleaning? One Mom’s Time-Tested Tricks

Christine Ryan Jyoti

cleaning with kidsCleaning is not my favorite pastime, but don’t tell my kids that.

My style is a bit less structured than I’d like to admit; whenever I see something that grosses me out, I clean it up immediately. But with the weather changing and spring in the air, I’m feeling the need to get organized and clean my house up properly.

Although I’m a busy mom, it saves us money to do our own spring cleaning rather than paying someone to do it, and I hope it teaches my children some key life lessons: responsibility, frugality, hard work.

Where do I start?

At the ripe old ages of 6 and 4, my munchkins are plenty mature to help me execute “operation spring clean.” It’s always a struggle to get them interested and involved in spring cleaning, but over the years, I’ve learned what works for us.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Prepare Ahead of Time

Having fun with kids means you can’t waste 45 minutes searching the house for the Swiffer refill pack. Here are a few things you should have lined up and ready to go:

Music: I’ve always been a big fan of blasting tunes to make cleaning bearable. So throw on your kid’s favorite soundtrack or some groovy reggae and get ramped up for some fun (remember your positive attitude will rub off on them!).

Cloths: You can use old t-shirts, burp cloths, terry cloths, paper towels or whatever you have lying around.

Spray Bottles: Fill them up with environmentally friendly cleaning solution or a simple water and vinegar mix (with equal parts water and vinegar). For guidance on how to concoct your own eco-friendly, D.I.Y. cleaning solutions, check out LearnVest’s article on how five items like baking soda and vinegar can be repurposed to do 40 household tasks.

Swiffer-type broom and cloths: It may be handy to have one broom per child to avoid battles over possession.

2. Tackle the Floors

I’m a fan of immediate gratification so I always start with my hardwood floors.

Try giving your kids a Swiffer and challenge them to catch all the dust bunnies they see. If you have more than one child, remind them it is not a competition, nor is it a contact sport. Everybody wins when we catch the bunnies.

Carpets need to be vacuumed and my kids are all up for that. I think it makes them feel grown-up and like a “critical” member of the cleaning team. I encourage them to get all those pesky spots by having them switch between the upright vacuum and the handheld.

Keep in mind you’ll have to be OK with less than perfection. Avoid the urge to redo every area they have “cleaned,” if only to show them that you value their contribution and teach the lesson that hard work does pay off.

RELATED: Pick and Choose – Which Spring Cleaning Tasks Matter Most?

3. Shine the Windows

If the sun is shining, we want to see it!

Set your kids up with a spray bottle and cloth and teach them the spray-and-wipe method of window cleaning. Work your way through the house and don’t forget any glass doors you may have.

This fine motor activity is great for hand-eye coordination and will give them a workout! Just don’t let them “clean” each other in the process.

4. Empty the Fridge

While you weed out moldy leftovers, have the kids take down all the art, notes, pictures, etc. off the fridge door. Supply your workers with those trusty spray bottles and have them wash the front of the fridge (as well as the handles) before they tastefully redecorate, prioritizing which items deserve to go back on the fridge.

  • Jeannette de Beauvoir

    These are great tips, and not just for homes with children; I’m getting ready to clean my home and home office, and reading this was very motivating! Thanks! Now if I can just teach my cat to work the vacuum cleaner …

  • Lisas

    I won’t lie, I don’t have kids and am totally reading these tips so I can use them on myself when I don’t feel like cleaning.

    • Paulie Pauls


  • Celia Lindsell

    My greatest luxury when spring cleaning is adding a couple of drops of
    Pure Essential Lavender Oil

    to the hotwater before washing the floor.
    You kitchen will smell divine.