There’s something about the spring that makes everyone feel the urge to deep clean their homes. Maybe it’s the much-needed extra sunlight or maybe it’s the signs of new growth happening all around us. Whatever the case, there’s a reason spring cleaning is so popular — it’s the perfect time to get your house in order. For parents, though, spring cleaning takes on a slightly different meaning. It’s no longer all about dusting, polishing, and doing some light redecorating. Spring cleaning tips for parents typically involve navigating their way around a tremendous amount of toys and that is much easier said than done.
All parents know the struggle of spending an hour cleaning and organizing toys in a playroom or their living room, only to have their kids wake up in the morning and, within minutes, destroy all evidence that any straightening up ever happened. Successful spring cleaning tips for parents should be more than just putting toys away. It’s a good time to declutter and do some serious organizing, which may involve a few purchases. It’s also a good time to deep clean everything. Kids are messy and usually not super hygienic, which means that all of their stuff, from bedding to toys, could probably really use a good scrub.
To make things feel less overwhelming, do these spring cleaning projects for parents slowly. Take on one task each day, or even just one task each weekend if that’s all the time you have. Don’t try to do everything in one day or one weekend — it’s basically impossible, especially when you have little ones to take care of. And don’t be afraid to get your kids involved, especially if they’re older toddlers. It’s a nice opportunity to teach them about cleaning, so offer them small tasks that they can do on their own.
Purge As Much Kid Stuff As Possible
It’s hard to purge kids’ toys, especially when you have toddlers. Even if your child hasn’t played with a toy in months and even if it’s developmentally wrong for them, the moment they see you trying to get rid of it, it’s suddenly their new favorite item. That’s why the best secret to disposing of unwanted toys is to get rid of them when your kids aren’t around.
Once they’re asleep or out of the house, go through their items and make three different piles: one of items you want to donate, one of items that are so old and beat up that they can be tossed, and one of items you want to keep. Then donate or throw away those items ASAP — don’t let your kids see them in bags or boxes, because they will insist they love that toy and absolutely need it in their life. If you have toys that you want to save for any future children, put them in boxes and store them somewhere else in your house — there’s no reason to leave them out if they’re not being used. This can be a big project, so give yourself a few hours. And as sad as it may be to get rid of their adorable little newborn teether, remember that holding onto old toys is only making your house more cluttered.
Reserve a separate time to go through their clothes as well. Make those three piles again (donate, toss, keep). If there are clothes you want to keep for future kids, buy storage bags to keep them safe (these storage bags from Amazon are inexpensive and hold a ton of stuff). Get rid of anything your kids no longer wear, don’t fit them anymore, or are so stained that they’re past saving. You’ll feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders at the end.
Deep Clean Everything
Make time to deep clean basically everything your kids have ever touched or played with. This means all of their toys, board books (which often end up in their mouths), bath toys and other items, and stuffed animals. Here’s how to clean each item.
How To Clean Toys
- Spray and wipe down all electronic toys (something like the Dapple Natural Toy & Highchair Spray is great). Don’t submerge these in water.
- Solid plastic toys or some teethers are often dishwasher safe, so you can throw them in the top rack to clean them. If you’re unsure, look up manufacturer details online.
- For a deeper clean, use Clorox or Lysol spray or wipes. Let the cleaner sit on the toys for about five to 10 minutes before wiping it off. Let them dry, then rinse them off in warm soapy water.
How To Clean Board Books
- Use cleaning wipes or spray to wipe them down. If you use Clorox or Lysol spray or wipes, make sure you wipe them down with a cloth soaked in warm water when you’re done.
- Submerge a cloth in warm, soapy water and wipe down the books. Let them dry before putting them back.
How To Clean Bath Items
Many bath toys have holes in them that can be annoying to deal with. Water can get trapped inside the toy and lead to mold growth. For these toys, the best way to keep them clean is to squeeze all of the water out after each use. If you notice any mold at all, toss the toys instead of trying to clean them.
- Use diluted bleach or Lysol spray or wipes to clean bath toys. A solution is easiest because you can pour it into the hollow part of any toy. Let them dry, then rinse thoroughly with warm water and let dry again.
- Check to make sure your toys are dishwasher safe. If they are, put them in the top rack to clean. Be sure to squeeze out any excess liquid and let them dry thoroughly.
- Wipe toys down with warm, soapy water, then sanitize in boiling water for 3-5 minutes.
- To clean a baby bathtub, use a multi-purpose cleaner or vinegar to wash it down. A toothbrush or cleaning pad is great for scrubbing away any stubborn spots.
How To Clean Stuffed Animals
- Most stuffed animals can be thrown in the washing machine, and many can also be thrown in the dryer as well. If you want, you can wash them in a gentle cycle in the machine, then allow them to air dry.
- Can’t go in the washing machine? Spot clean them as needed. Toss anything that is filthy that your child doesn’t have an attachment to.
Start A Toy Rotation
If you have the space, a toy rotation is a great way to cut down on clutter without getting rid of toys. Toy rotation basically means that you put some or half of your child’s toys out of sight and leave out the rest for them to play with. Every few weeks, you can swap around the toys. It has lots of benefits: it forces kids to get creative with the toys they have since they have less options of things to play with, it keeps them from getting overwhelmed by too many options, and it means less toys for them to make a mess of and for you to clean up.
To start a rotation, get some storage boxes and a place to keep said boxes, then put away about half or more of the toys you have out. Keep them out of sight of your little one. Every few weeks, switch the toys around.
Organize Their Toys
The easiest way to keep toys clean is to make sure there’s some sense of organization. Start by purging and donating like previously suggested, do a toy rotation, then organize everything that’s left.
- Give everything a home. Group like toys together. (Like all blocks in one spot, all wooden puzzles in another, etc.) Storage baskets, wire baskets, or clear bins are great for this. Use ones with handles that are easy for kids to grab so they don’t always need your help.
- Label each box or bin so that you know exactly where things go. This makes clean-up easier and faster.
- Buy kid-friendly storage solutions. Organizers like these racks of bins or cube towers are popular for a reason: they hold lots of items, they make sorting easy, and they look nicer than just messy piles.
Organize The Snack Area
Start by reserving a space in your kitchen for your kid’s snacks. Buy clear plastic bins to keep snacks together in your pantry or cabinets, and label them if needed (for example, bars or chips). Take all small bags of snacks out of their boxes and put them together in the bins. Whenever you go to the grocery store, keep kid’s snacks there. This makes it so much easier for you to grab a snack ASAP without searching for something kid-friendly.
Set Up An Arts & Crafts Area
You don’t need to have a ton of space to create a little arts and crafts corner. You can even just reserve one drawer for arts and crafts materials if necessary. Gather up all of the crayons, markers, paints, coloring books, stickers, pads, etc. and put them all in one spot. Not only does this keep things more clean and organized, but it may also encourage your kids to do their coloring and crafts in one spot rather than all of the house (sometimes, at least).
If you have the space, put all of these items in bins or a shelving unit and then get a small table (this one from Lalo is great) for them to use.
Set Up Toy Storage Spaces In Other Rooms
No matter how great their playroom is, it’s basically just a fact that your kids are going to end up bringing their toys out and playing in other rooms in your house. Even the most well organized toys end up piled up in living rooms or other spaces. To minimize the clutter and to make cleaning easier and faster, put some small toy storage solutions in other rooms. For example, I have these soft white baskets from Target in my living room. I use them to hold small toys in a neat and aesthetically pleasing way.
Deep Clean Your Kids’ Beds
A lot goes on in a kid’s bed or crib. Leaking out of diapers, having accidents, sneaking snacks in there, spilling water or milk, wearing their shoes without noticing... it’s safe to say their sleeping space could use a deep clean.
- Strip the bed and throw all of the sheets, blankets, pillow cases, and mattress protectors in the washing machine.
- Vacuum the mattress.
- Spot clean the mattress with a stain remover. Instead of soaking or applying water directly to the mattress, use a cloth dipped in cleaning solution and warm water and gently rub the stains clean.
- Sprinkle baking soda all over the mattress and let it sit like that as long as possible. This helps get rid of any smells and bacteria. If you can, let the sunlight in to really speed up that process.
- Vacuum up the baking soda.
- Flip the mattress to its other side.
- Clean the headboard and the sides with a multi-purpose cleaner.
- Wash the pillows according to the directions. Some pillows can be thrown in the washing machine, while others (like memory foam) cannot. Wash them as directed, then let them air dry outside.
Organize & Clean Baby Bottles & Kids’ Dishes
Kids’ utensils, dishes, bowls, snack cups, cups, and baby bottles with all of their accessories can take up so much space, and can make a huge mess when they’re not organized properly. Start by cleaning everything, especially snack cups that were hiding under the couch, and sterilizing bottles and bottle parts. Find a space in your cabinets to keep everything in one spot. Get some clear bins to keep everything together, which is possible since these items are typically smaller than your average plates and bowls. Have one bin for cups, one for snack containers, one for bowls, etc. Once everything has a home, cleaning up and finding things will become easier.