Are you ready? Here it is: Make the kids do it.
Here’s the thing. Bathrooms are small spaces that can get ridiculously dirty if given half the chance. If you have even one child who occasionally, ahem, misses the boat, then bathrooms need constant attention.
Teaching children to clean and clean up after themselves is a vital skill, and one that rewards on a number of levels. For one, it distributes the workload and makes housework a family responsibility, not just a parental one. It also demonstrates (over and over again) that cleaning—and homework and thank you cards and projects—are much easier to do when you stay on top of them. Added benefit: the bathroom looks and smells like something people would actually want to use.
- Start with a clean slate. This means removing items from the counter, the tub and the floor. Kids can corral items into a basket, or do them a favor and have things already gathered together in totes for easy maneuvering.
- Green clean. Buy some nontoxic cleaners or make some by filling a spray bottle with vinegar and a few drops of essential oils, like peppermint or tea tree oil. This cleaner can be used on the tub, the mirror, the vanity and the floors. Give one or more children a microfiber cloth and have them start scrubbing.
- Bring on the bubbly. (Not for celebrating–that’s for later). Cleaning toilets is a blast when you throw in a ½ cup of baking soda, 8 drops of tea tree essential oil and a ¼ cup of vinegar. Tell whoever is on toilet duty to scrub with a toilet brush as long as the reaction fizzes, making sure to hit under the rim with the bristles.
- Make a cleaning toolkit. It may be helpful to create a cleaning tote or container that has all the needed supplies at the ready, complete with a laminated checklist or your kids’ names on the supplies they are responsible for. This way there are no excuses when it’s time to debunk the funk.
- Another handy tip: Teach boys to wipe the seat or the rim after they are finished, but before they wash their hands. This makes them more aware of their aim, and allows them to learn consideration for others.
Remember, you’ll need to supervise the first 4 to 5 times (or more, depending on your child and your expectations), and you’ll need to teach good cleaning practices. This means going from least dirty to most dirty (mirrors to toilets, in most cases) and from top to bottom. You’ll also need to remember that non-toxic cleaners work best on mostly clean surfaces, which means they are most effective when used regularly (read: with lots of practice).
How soon will you be delegating this least-favorite chore?