Spring Cleaning Chores for Kids, by Age

Illustration of different spring cleaning chores for different ages

Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee

Spring cleaning is not something most people look forward to, but if you involve the entire family, everyone wins. You get help decluttering and reorganizing your home just in time for warmer weather to begin, which studies show can reduce anxiety and boost mood. And your children pick up some key life skills along with the great feeling that comes from helping out others.

"Spring cleaning is important because it designates a specific time for a fresh start," says Julia M. Chamberlain, MS, INHC, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor. "It can also help an individual evaluate their needs and preferences by assessing which items they have used and need to hold onto versus those they need to let go of."

If you are wondering how to involve the entire family in spring cleaning your home after a long winter, check out our age-by-age guide to assigning chores below. You'll learn why kids benefit from having regular responsibilities and get some ideas for motivating everyone, from toddlers to teens.

Why Kids Need Chores

When parents consider giving kids chores, they naturally think about how it can lighten the load around the home and create more family time when everyone is pitching in. But that is not the only reason to assign some household responsibilities to children.

"It is also important for kids to understand that maintaining and cleaning a home isn't all one person's job, or one gender's role," says Katie Berry, a cleaning expert and founder of Housewife How-Tos. "Spring cleaning is something everyone in the family should help with since everyone benefits from a clean home."

Children also learn important life skills by doing chores. They help teach kids time management lessons, especially if they have to complete tasks before hanging out with friends or playing on their tablet or phone. "And, let's face it, when kids start complaining about how boring it is, it's also a chance for parents to point out that making fewer messes would help cleaning go faster," says Berry.

Finally, while it sounds old-fashioned, insisting kids organize, clean, and maintain their things helps imprint on kids the value of a dollar. "It's a chance for parents to teach their kids that owning things means taking care of them," Berry explains.

Psychological Benefits of Chores

Research shows that when children are given chores at home—whether they are daily tasks or spring cleaning responsibilities—they tend to exhibit more positive social behavior and be more satisfied with life. Kids who regularly complete chores and handle age-appropriate responsibilities often feel a sense of accomplishment and experience a boost in self-confidence.

In addition, having chores may help spur achievement. One study showed that performing chores in kindergarten is linked with improved math scores in the third grade. And the impact may be long-lasting: Doing chores in childhood is associated with future career success.

Lena Suarez-Angelino, MSW, LCSW

Keeping chores manageable will save both you and your child headaches and stress. You will also see kids' self-esteem increase when they see how much they are capable of.

— Lena Suarez-Angelino, MSW, LCSW

Choosing Age-Appropriate Chores

Parents do have to be mindful of what they are asking of their kids. There's some research to suggest that giving children excessive or overly difficult household work can lead to stress and depressive symptoms. For this reason, it is important to consider your child's maturity, abilities, and availability when assigning chores.

"Keeping chores age-appropriate is critical," says Lena Suarez-Angelino, MSW, LCSW, a bilingual licensed clinical social worker and intuitive empowerment coach. "You don't want to make the chores so difficult that your child gives up quickly, becomes frustrated, or is resentful.

Best Chores for Toddlers

Toddlers love to help with chores, but they may not always be as helpful as you might hope. Additionally, you will likely have to guide them through each step. Just remind yourself that you are creating positive habits along the way.

"With younger kids, it's not so much about them doing a chore correctly as it is about involving them and keeping them safely occupied so parents can focus on their own tasks," says Berry. "If the kids learn something in the process, great!"

Wiping and Scrubbing

Toddlers are still developing their gross motor skills and fine motor skills so cleaning chores that allow them to practice both large physical movements and manipulative tasks are a great way to engage them in spring cleaning. Berry suggests having your toddler wipe down sturdy common surfaces, like doors, kitchen counters, and toys.

Keep Things Safe

"When it comes to cleaning products, parents need to remember that using some cleaning products together or right after one other can be dangerous, so be sure to read labels carefully before giving them to children," says Berry. "There's also a risk of contamination, so it's a good idea to make sure kids understand not to use the same rag to clean the countertop that they used on the toilet. And of course, do not let young kids operate corded devices like vacuums or steam cleaners without supervision."

Sorting Clothes

Kids as young as 2 years old can begin to learn about sorting. Not only does sorting build math skills and help them identify colors, it also can become a game for them. Have your child sort socks or shirts by color or family member as you fold laundry or clean out closets of winter clothing.

Additional Chores for Toddlers

  • Putting toys in designated boxes
  • Pulling weeds
  • Carrying own dishes to sink
  • Collecting dirty clothes in a laundry basket

Best Chores for Preschoolers

Preschoolers are usually eager to assist with chores, which will help them build important self-help skills that are critical at this stage. They also love the time spent doing tasks with their favorite adults.

Depending on your child's abilities and interests, they may even be able to do some basic chores without constant supervision. To keep them engaged, Berry suggests making cleaning a game. "See who can fill a box with clutter the fastest or who can sweep up the biggest pile of dirt," she says. "Or, put on music everyone loves and sing along while cleaning."

Stripping Beds

Although making a bed might be too challenging for a preschooler, they can help with stripping blankets and sheets as you transition to warmer-weather bedding for spring. Aside from the fact that this is a fun task when done with a parent or caregiver, it also helps instill the importance of keeping beds fresh to promote good sleep hygiene. And if your preschooler has just transitioned to a big-kid bed, they may delight in taking care of it.

Sprucing Up Entryways

When involving preschoolers in chores, you have to consider their size when assigning tasks. For this reason, giving them simple chores at their height level is usually the best bet. Berry recommends having them shake off or sweep entry mats, wipe down doorknobs, and clean smudges off the entryway walls, especially where shoes have left marks.

Additional Chores for Preschoolers

  • Watering plants
  • Putting clothes away
  • Feeding pets
  • Emptying and sorting utensils from the dishwasher

Best Chores for Kids Ages 5 to 8

Like younger kids, elementary school children usually are enthusiastic about cleaning projects— especially if it means spending time with you. In addition to being more coordinated by this age, grade-schoolers also tend to be interested in learning new things and will take direction well. Take advantage of this eagerness to pick up new skills and introduce a few more challenging tasks.

Organizing Linen Closets

Kids this age are still developing and honing their organizational abilities, so giving them a task like organizing linen closets is a great way to help them work on these skills. They can fold and stack towels, organize sheets and blankets by color, and sort items based on their use (like putting all the soaps in one area and the paper products in another).

Dusting and Polishing

Most homes have a lot of surfaces that need dusting or polishing, and elementary schoolers are ready to be careful around oddly shaped or fragile household items. Put your elementary schooler to work dusting lampshades and mini-blinds and polishing the dining room table and picture frames, suggests Berry. Make things interesting by having them do a scavenger hunt while cleaning.

Additional Chores for Elementary Schoolers

  • Folding laundry
  • Sweeping and mopping floors
  • Emptying wastebaskets and taking out the trash
  • Cleaning toilets

Best Chores for Tweens

Although tweens (kids ages 9 to 12) may not be as interested in doing chores as they once were, they do have a strong desire to become independent. Use a spring cleaning project or everyday chores to guide them toward becoming more self-sufficient.

As they likely have homework and other commitments, tweens will also appreciate a set schedule and clear expectations. Let them know in advance that the family will be spending the next weekend cleaning up the house. Berry says one way to motivate kids is to pick a fun family activity to do as a reward once you are done.

Katie Berry, Cleaning Expert

For older kids, the key is having something for them to look forward to in return for doing a good job.

— Katie Berry, Cleaning Expert

Decluttering Their Room

Learning how to get rid of clutter is not an easy task, but one that anyone can benefit from. If you teach your child to clean out old or unused things from their personal spaces from a young age, this is a skill they can carry with them for the rest of their life.

Encourage them to donate unwanted items to charity. "Children can gain joy from donating old toys to individuals in need," says Chamberlain. "Evidence suggests that giving has a positive impact on mental health." Or, if they have an entrepreneurial spirit, they could even try to sell old items to help save for something they really want.

Sweeping the Garage and Outdoor Spaces

By this age, your child should know how to handle a broom and dustpan with some success. Consider having your tween sweep out the garage as well as common outdoor spaces like the front porch, the patio, or deck.

Additional Chores for Tweens

  • Putting away groceries
  • Loading or unloading the dishwasher
  • Making beds
  • Cleaning bathrooms

Best Chores for Teens

The great thing about teens is that they can handle nearly any chore that you want to assign to them as long as you have taken the time to teach them how to do it properly. Just make sure you are considerate of the fact that most teens have considerable homework, extracurricular commitments, and sometimes a part-time job.

However, don't let your teen out of chores simply because they are busy with personal activities. If they are in a super-busy period, give them small responsibilities that can be easily worked into their schedules, such as replacing light bulbs or cleaning outgrown clothing out of their closet.

Cleaning the Oven

Even though most ovens are self-cleaning, they still need to be wiped out after the cleaning cycle. Additionally, the racks in the oven typically have to be removed and will benefit from a good scrubbing. Because this chore requires a little elbow grease as well as knowledge of how the oven works, this is usually a good spring cleaning chore for a teen.

Scrubbing the Bathroom Tiles or Grout

Although this task can be tedious, if someone else handles cleaning the rest of the bathroom, your teen can focus on cleaning the grout or tiles. Be sure to arm them with the appropriate cleaning solutions and small-bristled tools to get this tough job done well.

Additional Chores for Tweens and Teens

  • Repainting chipped or faded exterior surfaces
  • Washing and vacuuming cars
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Shopping for necessary household items (with list)

A Word From Verywell

Although spring cleaning may not top your list of choices for fun family quality time, it's an endeavor that will leave you and your kids with a sense of satisfaction. While allowing you to get rid of things that have been taking up space, it's a chance for the entire family to collaborate in sprucing up your home and taking pride in it. When choosing chores for your kids, select tasks that are appropriate for their age and stage in life. By making sure your child will be successful in chores—and bonus points for making it fun—you will build their confidence while instilling life skills.

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon is a published author and a bullying prevention expert.