Getting kids to clean up doesn’t have to be a struggle. Seriously it doesn’t have to be!! There are some easy things you can do to support your children during the clean up process. I am sharing eight tricks for getting your kids to clean up! Once you put these tricks in place, your kiddos will be cleaning up with minimal tears!

8 Tricks For Getting Your Kids To Clean Up

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Everything Has A Place

This is the very first trick you have to put in place for getting your kids to clean up. If everything has a place, they can’t just throw things in any basket or bin. It has to go in a specific spot. This makes it easy for them to find what they are looking to play with. Which means less toys lying on the ground because they can’t find the toy they are looking for. 

Start by giving each type of toy a specific bin to be stored.


Once each toy category is In a specific bin, label all the bins. I highly suggest using picture labels to help the kids see what is inside. Picture labels are just labels you print off with pictures of the type of toy that goes inside. 

To create picture labels, you can take a picture of each bin. Then put them into an Excel spreadsheet. Print off and laminate. Then you have custom labels made easy!

using labels on drawers to demonstrate labels helping to getting kids to clean up

Set “Clean Up Time”

Setting a “clean up time” allows kids to understand that they have a specific amount of time to complete the cleaning up. To do this, I like using music. Back when I was teaching, I would play the song “I Like To Move It, Move It” from Madagascar Movie. The kids knew that when the song was done, they had to be back in their seats. I do the same thing with my kids. I give them a song or two and everything has to be cleaned up once the song is over. This helps them start to learn some time management skills while they are cleaning!!

Use Real Words

Try to avoid using general words like “clean up”. Why? Because it really can be tricky as a kid to understand what that means. Instead try using words like “put the cars in the car bin”. This gives kiddos specific directions for what you want them to do! So use real words for what you want the kids to do instead of the general words.

Model + Demo

Another great trick to getting your kids clean up is to model and demonstrate cleaning up. What I mean by this is that while your kids are cleaning up toys, you can be cleaning up the kitchen or another area nearby. The kids will see you modeling how to clean up a space within the time you have given yourself. 

You can also demonstrate how to clean up with your child. So sit with them as they clean up and use real words to explain why you are doing what you are doing. This is great for toddlers to work on both language development and tidiness!

Make A Game

Turn cleaning up into a game! This helps younger kiddos (and older ones too) clean up without fighting you on the tasks! An easy game to play is to see how many toys you can put away before the timer goes off. Or you can do races to see who cleans up an area first. I share more game ideas here!

organizing a preschool boys bedroom diy

Live With Imperfection

Ok so you want your kids to clean up after themselves so you there is one thing you need to keep in mind…and that is to live with imperfections. You kiddos might not have put all their toys away in the proper bins. Or they may have put the pillows back on the couch in the wrong place. This is something you are going to have to fight that inner urge to fix. You have to let them have this “win”. I know it is hard. It is so hard for me to loosen the reigns. But I know it is for their own good. So when my daughter organizes her shelves, I just have to let her go and not fix it. Let her have this one!

Give Specific Compliments

This is big for any kid-related task…give specific compliments. Back when I was learning to be a teacher, we had to learn how to run a classroom. One of the biggest tip one of my teachers shared was giving specific compliments. She encouraged us to write down at least 30 specific compliments of students. I feel this was such a great tool for running a classroom AND raising kids. I am able to give specific compliments about things like “you did a great job picking up all the markers and putting them away.” This compliment is the key to getting kids to repeat the good behaviors you want to see again.


The final trick to getting your kids to clean up is to use checklists! Checklists are the prefect way to help create order that kids can see. I use them for basically everything with my kids. We set up checklists for our morning routine, and nighttime routine. I have set up checklists for my clients in order to help the kids clean up. Which is why I created the FREE guide book to help parents get their kids organized. You can get your free copy below.


Now you know my 8 tricks to getting your kids to clean up! Start by giving everything a place. Then make sure you label everything. Set a “clean up time” by using music or a timer to give kids the timeframe to complete the task. Use real words instead of the generic “clean up”. Model and demonstrate cleaning up alongside the kiddos. Turn cleaning up into a game, like a race to see who can clean up the most items. Live with imperfections because you want your kids to continue to clean up, day after day. Give specific compliments on things you loved. The more specific the more you will see that action happening. And finally use checklist to getting your kids to clean up. Download my free guide book, which will guide you through the process of setting expectations and routines. It will totally help you stay on track to have an organized home!