Cleaning Skills to Teach Your Children

How to Teach Kids Responsibility

Small boy helping with laundry
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Kids and a clean home do not always seem to go together. But in reality, your children can learn some basic skills that will help keep the house tidier. Here are some recommended chores that kids should learn.

  • 01 of 06

    Doing Laundry

    Young girl taking laundry out of the dryer

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    Kids as young as 2 years of age can begin to learn about sorting. In fact, young kids often find that sorting items can be a game. Older toddlers can learn to help put away clothes. School-aged kids can learn to fold laundry and begin to learn about loading and unloading the washer and dryer with supervision. Between the ages of 8 and 10, most kids are mature enough to have full responsibility of loading the washing machine and dryer as well as cleaning the washing machine or cleaning the dryer. If you begin teaching your child at a young age, by age 10 or 11, the child will have learned the entire process of laundry, from sorting it to putting it away.

  • 02 of 06

    Washing Dishes

    A child washing dishes

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    Children who are trained properly can be a big help at washing dishes. Whether you are teaching your children to use a dishwasher or wash dishes by hand, the best way to start is with scraping and rinsing. Even 5- to 6-year-olds can be taught how to scrape and rinse their plates. Seven- to 8-year-olds can help with drying and putting away dishes. By age 9, kids are ready to learn how to wash different types of dishes or load a dishwasher. Teach safety principles, too. For instance, they should learn to set the knives aside instead of soaking them in hot soapy water where they would be impossible to see.

  • 03 of 06

    Make a Bed

    Girl helping to make the bed

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    It might be a dying art, but learning how to make a bed is a valuable skill. It does not mean your kids will always do it, but at least they will know how. Start simply by showing them how to make their own bed when they are toddlers. Progress to letting them make the bed themselves. Kids like the freedom to arrange their pillows and stuffed animals the way they like which can be an incentive for them to make their beds each morning. Make it easier for your children by choosing less complicated bedding. Until kids are school-aged, it is not a bad idea to omit using a top sheet on their beds. Parents might consider eliminating extra sheets, blankets, or pillows—especially if they are never used.

  • 04 of 06

    Sweep a Floor

    Girl sweeping the kitchen floor

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    Sweeping a floor seems like a simple task. All you have to do is drag a broom across a floor. But effective sweeping is not always that simple and often takes some practice. Give a kid a broom, and you are likely to see dirt flipping everywhere except in a pile. Even with all the new gadgets out there, learning to use a broom is a great skill. By ages 7 or 8, kids can begin to learn to sweep floors. Younger kids are even able to hold a dustpan for a partner to sweep into. Older kids can also learn to use other gadget sweepers in addition to traditional brooms.

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  • 05 of 06

    Mop a Floor

    Girl (age 6-8) cleaning kitchen floor with mop, smiling, low angle view
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    Learning to mop a floor is a task best suited for older school-aged kids. By the age of 9 or 10, most kids will be old enough to learn to mop without much supervision. Teach kids how to prepare mop water, wring out a mop, when to rinse a mop head, what to do with tough spots, how to rinse out a mop and bucket, and how to store a mop. Give them instructions on how to mop different floor types you may have in your home. Kids might think they are being quite helpful when they slosh water around on unsealed hardwood, which is not the case.

  • 06 of 06

    Removing Clutter

    Child picking up toys


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    One of the most useful skills we can teach our children is one that can be difficult even for adults. Teaching children to declutter from a younger age can actually create a habit for them that they will carry forward in their lives. Let reluctant kids watch you declutter your own stuff. Share clutter questions aloud as you determine what to keep. Some kids might be motivated to donate unused items to less fortunate people. Other kids might be more motivated to sell clutter items in order to save up for something else they really want.