Cleaning Checklist: Sneaky ways to keep your house clean with toddlers

sneaky ways to keep your house clean with toddlers

Keeping your house clean with toddlers can feel like a never-ending battle. I’m going to help you figure out if it’s even possible to keep a clean house with kids and if it’s normal to have a messy home with kids. You’re going to love these sneaky ways to keep your house clean with toddlers.

This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. That means if you make a purchase using a link provided I may earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more! You can read my full disclaimer here.

Creating a cleaning routine wasn’t easy for me as a new mom. 

I tried so many methods to keep my house clean but I failed time and time again.

Now that I have two toddlers I’ve figured out a simple cleaning routine that doesn’t consume all of my time and energy and I want to help you do the same.

cleaning checklist printable pdf for adhd, monthly cleaning checklist, deep cleaning checklist, cleaning habit tracker, cleaning challenge, cleaning supplies inventory

The ultimate cleaning bundle full of tips and tricks for the busy mom who struggles to stick to a cleaning schedule.

What is considered a messy home?

A messy home has more clutter than you like. When my girls are playing and there are toys scattered all over the floor, my house feels messy.

After we cook and there’s flour on the countertops, pots, and pans on the stovetop, and dishes overflowing the sink, my house feels messy.

A messy house and a dirty house are different. A dirty house is unsanitary. It could contain mold, bugs, or unpleasant odors. Meanwhile, a messy house is cluttered, but not unsanitary.

Is having a messy house with toddlers normal?

Absolutely. My house gets messy every day because I have 2 toddlers who are home with me all day.

The level of mess varies from day to day, but there are toys scattered across the floor every single day.

Having a messy house isn’t a bad thing as long as it doesn’t stay messy. You get to decide the level of mess you feel comfortable with.

For example, my sister’s house is messier than mine, but with my ADHD I get very anxious when I’m surrounded by too much clutter. She doesn’t have ADHD and she’s not bothered by the mess so she lets the clutter pile up longer than I would before she cleans.

So yes, pretty much everyone’s house will get messy at some point throughout the day, but the level of mess depends on your personal preference.

What do you clean first in a messy house?

I prefer to start with whatever task is causing me the most anxiety but feels easy to clean.

This typically includes either picking the toys up off the floor or clearing off kitchen countertops.

I spend a lot of my day in the living room and kitchen so cleaning one of those first helps me feel like I’ve accomplished something.

And even if I don’t clean the entire room that’s fine.

Studies have shown that clutter:

  • Increases stress levels 
  • Decreases focus
  • Increases procrastination 
  • Negatively impacts relationships 
  • Decreases your quality of life 

Something as simple as picking up toys or clearing the clutter off the kitchen countertops can improve my mental health.

What cleaning supplies do you need to keep your house clean with toddlers?

Here are the materials needed for quick cleaning sessions throughout the day that will help you stay ahead of the mess.

Multipurpose cleaning spray

I prefer this antibacterial spray because it’s not full of harmful chemicals and it smells great.

It also…

  • Kills 99.9% of household germs, including staphylococcus aureus, influenza a flu virus, rhinovirus, escherichia coli, enterobacter aerogenes and salmonella enterica.
  • Clean and sanitizes in one easy step.
  • Cleans tough stains without harsh chemicals that can be dangerous for kids and pets.

I also like to use the Think Dirty app which gives you a health score for common household items so you can see how dirty/ harmful the ingredients are.

Microfiber cloths

I like to use microfiber cloths instead of paper towels because they’re reusable so we don’t have to buy as many paper towels.

Eventually, we’d like to stop using paper towels but we’re not quite there yet.


I like using this lightweight vacuum because my 3-year-old can easily maneuver it so she can vacuum without my help.

If you have the budget then I recommend a robot vacuum like this one that will periodically clean throughout the day so it’s one less thing you have to worry about. And you can control the vacuum with the app or using Alexa for those times when you have a baby in one arm and a toddler destroying everything.

3 sneaky ways to keep your house clean with toddlers

Trying to create a cleaning schedule doesn’t work for me. I’ve found that these 3 methods are the most effective way for me to keep my house clean as a work-from-home mom with toddlers.

1. Create a weekly cleaning routine 

I use this bundle of cleaning checklists to create my simple cleaning routine.

cleaning checklist printable pdf for adhd, monthly cleaning checklist, deep cleaning checklist, cleaning habit tracker, cleaning challenge, cleaning supplies inventory

It’s broken down by room and there are blank pages to customize your own checklist.

The tasks are in order so you can clean your house from top to bottom like a professional.

2. Use micro habits to clean a little bit every day 

Some cleaning methods will have you clean certain parts of your house on certain days, but that was too overwhelming for me to keep up with.

I’ve found that creating small micro habits is more effective than trying to force myself to clean the entire bathroom every Tuesday.

Here are a few micro habits that can help your house feel less messy:

  • Make your bed every morning 
  • Put dishes in the dishwasher every evening 
  • Put away clean dishes every morning 
  • Put dishes in the dishwasher throughout the day 
  • Start a load of laundry every morning 
  • Pick up toys during nap time and after dinner 

So many of us have all-or-nothing thinking where we believe we need enough time to clean the entire kitchen or we don’t even start.

When you use micro habits you make small increments of progress that feels easy, making it easier for you to stay consistent.

3. Focus on high-traffic areas

A high-traffic area is where your family spends a lot of time therefore these areas get messy frequently.

The most common high-traffic areas are the kitchen, the main living room, and the main bathroom.

Here’s how to keep these high-traffic areas clean. I also recommend using this cleaning checklist so you’ll know exactly what to clean in each room.


Here are the tasks I complete when I tidy up the kitchen: 

  • Put dishes in the dishwasher
  • Wipe countertops
  • Sweep 
  • Spot mop

The most obvious clutter people will see when they walk into your kitchen is the dishes in the sink and your countertops covered in random stickiness. 

Therefore, I tackle these tasks first. And also because the kitchen is usually one of the dirtiest rooms because it’s frequently used.  

As part of my daily cleaning routine, I empty the dishwasher every morning, reload it with dirty dishes throughout the day, and turn on the dishwasher every evening.


Here are the tasks I complete when I tidy up the bathroom:

  • Spray the shower
  • Wipe the sink and faucet
  • Clean the countertops
  • Wipe the mirror

We have 2 bathrooms in my house, but I just focus on the main bathroom that my kids use.

Living room 

Here are the tasks I complete when I tidy up the living room: 

  • Pick up clutter (put it where it goes)
  • Straighten throw pillows
  • Fold blankets
  • Clean tops of tables 
  • Sweep/vacuum

I’ve seen a few cleaning routines that throw everything in a basket and you hide the basket. 

While that’s a fast way to get things done, I prefer to put everything where it belongs as I’m cleaning so I won’t have to do it later.

How often should you clean your house with toddlers?

If you want to stay ahead of the mess then I recommend you clean your house daily.

But this depends on how many people are living in your house and the size of your home.

When I was living alone in a one bedroom apartment I didn’t clean every day because there wasn’t much to clean.

I spent most of the day at school or work and I ate out most nights so there weren’t any dishes to wash.

Now as a wife and mom, I clean multiple times per day. But it’s also important to know that I’m not cleaning up alone.

My family is also cleaning up after themselves so it’s a team effort.

How do I stop being so messy and lazy?

The first thing I would do is quit telling myself that I’m messy and lazy. If you believe you’re lazy you’re going to act like a lazy person (whatever that means to you). But if you tell yourself more positive thoughts you’ll begin to believe them.

Your mind is powerful.

If you don’t want to be messy and lazy, start taking small actions that you believe a person who isn’t lazy or messy would do.

There may also be an underlying medical explanation for why you believe you’re messy and lazy.

Some people have executive dysfunction which is a behavioral symptom that disrupts a person’s ability to manage their thoughts, emotions, and actions.

If you’ve been trying to keep your home clean but you feel like you’re struggling more than “normal” people, it’s best to see your healthcare provider.

Quick recap…

Keeping your house clean with toddlers can be a struggle.

A few toddler hacks I’ve learned are:

  • The earlier you teach them to clean up after themselves the easier it’ll be for you.
  • Give them choices so they feel like they have a sense of control.
    • Ex: “Do you want to clean the playroom or help mommy clean the kitchen?”
  • Let them know what’s happening next.
    • Ex: “First we’re going to pick up the toys then we’ll go to the playground.”
  • Don’t make cleaning feel like a punishment. Keep it fun and try not to complain about cleaning in front of them.

These are a few of the methods I use to limit toddler meltdowns while also teaching them to clean up after themselves from a young age.

If you’re struggling to create a cleaning routine this bundle of cleaning checklists will help.

cleaning checklist printable pdf for adhd, monthly cleaning checklist, deep cleaning checklist, cleaning habit tracker, cleaning challenge, cleaning supplies inventory

There’s even a fun 30-day cleaning challenge to jumpstart your motivation.

Share with your friends!