10 Tips for Deep Cleaning the House with Older Kids

I don't know too many people who squeal with delight over the idea of deep cleaning the house; but the idea of having the whole house cleaned without having to fork over a pot of gold definitely makes me smile.
These suggestions are for families with older children, age 9 and up.  But if you have younger kids, I'd still try it. Who knows, you may have a cleaning prodigy on your hands!

1. Plan ahead.  The most important part of the plan is to tell them in advance.  My kids like fun surprises.  "Let's clean the house" is not a fun surprise on a sunny Monday morning.  I let my kids know in advance that we would be setting aside a whole day to clean.  I wasn't sure if it would take the whole day, but it was self-preservation just in case it took longer than expected.  Which it did
2. Explain the role of responsibility.  Part of living in this house is taking care of it.  Many modern day kids struggle with entitlement.  We want our kids to understand that living in a home requires responsibility. 
3. Require good attitudes.  While the day won't be fully free of bad attitudes, let the kids know that you expect them to have a positive approach to the day.  
Blast fun music. The bad attitude dude will run and hide.
4. Be the example.  I chose the three nastiest bathrooms.  My kids looked at me with reverence.  It was a holy moment.
5. Be specific. I gave each of my kids a little card with the expectations for each room, lest they forget...
6. Make it as fair as possible.  "Fair" is typically a dirty word in our family.  Fair is a place you buy cotton candy.  I printed out little slips of paper with each of the rooms and we rolled the dice.  The kid with the highest number got to choose one room first.  After everyone chose their first room, we rolled the dice again (hence keeping it as fair as possible.) Everyone chose their second room according to their order from the dice roll.  

7. Check it off.  To give the kids a sense of accomplishment, once a chore on the cleaning checklist was completed, they could check it off.  We used three different colors for each child.  For example, my son used yellow for the mudroom.  As he finished each chore in that room, a yellow check was added to his list.
8. Give some freedom of choice.  My kids each had two rooms plus their own bedrooms to clean.  I let them choose which room to tackle first.  They knew the rooms had to be done and approved by me before the day was over.
9. Follow through.  As the day wears on, they will get a little tired. Give them a fun snack while you go check on their progress.  This is an excellent lesson on meeting goals and finishing a task.  Hold them accountable.  If they overlooked a table that has an inch of dust, gently remind them.  Remember, this is just as much about teaching responsibility as it is about finishing with a clean house.
10. Celebrate! Let the kids savor the clean house for a moment.  Tell them to look around and smell the clean.  Let them feel the sense of accomplishment.  Celebrate with a reward for the whole family. Go get pizza or ice cream, or both.

Bonus Hint: We made it a screen free day.  (Music was allowed.)  No screens = no outside distractions.  It was magical.

I'm linking up with Imparting Grace.  Come join the party!


  1. Great idea! I think I shall have to borrow them!

  2. Brilliant! Maybe I should try this with my hubby!!!!!:):)

  3. Gretchen, I love this post. Wish I'd started doing this with my boys when they were younger. I love the way you set the example by tackling the rooms that might have been the hardest. I'm pinning this to my parenting board.

    Thank you so much for joining Grace at Home. I'm featuring you this week!

  4. Thank you! Our kids are having fun and learning new things . This looks like so much fun for them.

    Teach Your Kids for Eating Food


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