How to Teach Kids About Cleanliness

Teaching kids about cleanliness goes beyond proper hand washing techniques. Here are some tips to help your kids become masters of clean.

Woman helping a child wash his hands

Being clean isn’t just about hand washing, though that’s one part of it.

For little kids who love water, that’s an easy lesson to give. For older kids who don’t think about their hands being dirty after they play or pet the dog, it’s a lesson you’re reminding over and over and over again.

But cleanliness is also about wiping down the bathroom, keeping a room clean and putting away toys. Kids are expected to clean up in classes at school, and parents can reinforce the exercises at home. Between chore charts, allowance and giving kids the confidence of responsibility, you’re teaching them to be clean (which their college roommate will thank you for later).

Washing your hands

Kids already in school are taught to wash their hands while singing “Happy Birthday,” so that they’re washing for 20 seconds.

  • This soap and pepper experiment went viral as a visual way to teach your kids about germs.
  • For toddlers, Grover explains in a printable PDF about hand washing.
  • Also, watch this video on YouTube from Disney Junior and Doc McStuffins.
  • Sesame Street also helps parents explain why cleanliness extends to baths and tooth brushing.

Cleaning chores

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Kids as young as 2 can have responsibilities and chores. From setting and clearing the table to picking up their toys — check out our list of age-appropriate chores for more ideas.

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  • When it comes to chores, let kids choose what they want to do: pick up the blocks or the stuffed animals? Clean the bathroom or vacuum all the floors? That way they feel like they are part of the process and cleaning isn’t a punishment.
  • Let older kids help create the process.
  • Create a reward system and “home store” like this one from The Idea Room blog. Or assign tasks a money value (from quarters to a dollar) for kids to earn allowance money.
  • Make chore charts fun and let littles make their own.

Listen to music

A few good tunes will help pass the time while cleaning.

  • Spotify has a great list of pop tunes for just such an occasion.
  • For younger kids, teach the Clean Up song, which will give them a rhythm to clean to.

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