Spring Cleaning with Teens

April 8, 2023

Okay…so maybe getting your teen to spring clean seems impossible, let alone getting your teen to clean at all. But everyone has to join in on the fun of spring cleaning. This is the time to go beyond  the routine chores such as tidying, dusting, and vacuuming, and go into deep cleaning. Here are a couple tips for spring cleaning with teens:

Start with your mindset…

  • Work together as a team: Your teen doesn’t want to feel forced to clean. Make it a team project. Set goals and name any distractions that could get in the way of staying motivated. 
  • It’s more about the act than the result: Check any perfectionism at the door and make an effort to positively encourage your teen as you go. It’s more about the act than the result. If your teen vacuums, praise the action of vacuuming, don’t criticize the results of vacuuming. This praise goes a long way.
  • Make it fun: Maybe the idea of cleaning out under the sink is not met with great enthusiasm. Well, what about if there was fun music, or the reward of a great lunch to look forward to afterwards? Who says spring cleaning isn’t fun?

Time is a big factor…

  • Boundaries and goals: Schedule in spring cleaning and allot appropriate and agreed upon time boundaries and goals. Set clear expectations so that you and your teen understand the goals. 
  • Just 15-20 minutes: Time limits are a great tool for making sure that the task does not feel overwhelming. If cleaning out under the bed seems too big of a chore to start,  just agree upon committing for 15-20 minutes. Start the chore with a time limit and see how far it gets you. Your teen may or may not be ready for another 15-20 minutes after that timer goes off, but this helps the project to begin and not feel so overwhelming.
  • Take breaks: Wrap things up or call for a break if you or your teen start to get frustrated, overwhelmed, or irritated. Food, drink, and stepping away from the project is always a great reset.

Empower your teen…

  • Let it go: Don’t go through your teen’s discard items and pull anything back out that you think they should keep.
  • Doing so undermines their efforts, makes them question their decision making, and leaves them feeling the entire process was futile.
  • No really, let it go: Your teen will have different ways of cleaning and organizing than you. Don’t criticize but let them get into the project and learn from their work. We get it, but they are learning a lot by doing and perfectionism is not the goal, right?
  • Encourage your teen: Instead, empower your teen to declutter and organize their space by not questioning their decisions, critiquing their efforts, and only providing positive reinforcement and support.

Here are 10 ideas for spring cleaning with teens:

  1. Deep Declutter – Start with two containers – one for donating, and one for trash. Set a timer for 15-20 minutes, and choose a category to declutter. Did this inspire more motivation? Then set another time and go for another 15-20 minutes.
  2. Clothes – Now is the perfect time to let winter clothes go that have not been worn and summer clothes go that will not work this year. Your teen knows what they like and do not like. If trying on clothes is not a favorite pastime, don’t force it. This is also a great way to figure out what items do need to be purchased for the summer wardrobe. This can lead into planning a shopping adventure to find the needed items. 
  3. Shoes – Shoes should not be lumped in with clothes. That makes for too many decisions. Let the shoes go that no longer fit or are worn and make a note of shoes that need to be purchased. 
  4. Paper – This can be an overwhelming category but it doesn’t have to be! Setting up a routine for paperwork and establishing some filing guidelines will help your teen with getting and keeping documents organized. Start off with a system for the new incoming paperwork before you start going through the backlog. Then sort through it filing techniques
  5. Windows – Such a great time of year to clean the inside and outside of the windows. Don’t forget the window sills and blinds, too. A vacuum, and then rag and eco-friendly cleaner does the trick!
  6. Backpacks – Summer will be here soon. It’s a great time to spring clean and organize backpacks. Get that backpack ready for the last push before summer.  
  7. The Launch Pad – If you don’t have a launch pad, well here is a great blog on organizing your launch pad. If you do, here are some tips for spring cleaning a launch pad for kids and organizing sports equipment in the launch pad
  8. Under The Bed – This idea doesn’t need much explanation. Pull everything out from underneath the bed. Then clean under the bed (vacuum, dust, wipe bed frame/baseboards/floors/walls). Then sort items into piles. Let items go that are no longer wanted or needed. Finally put remaining items away.
  9. Walls and Baseboards – Such a great task to do along with a podcast or even your teen’s favorite show. Just give them a spray bottle and an appropriate rag or a magic eraser (whichever is the best for your paint and surfaces) and clean those walls and baseboards. This can be quite enjoyable while binging a favorite show!
  10. Garage or Shed – This is an area that can quickly get out of control and no better time but now to get it ready for the summer! Spring Cleaning the garage/shed can really be difficult for your teen to know where to start though. Instead of opening the door to an overwhelming task, here are 5 easy tips for spring cleaning the garage or shed.

For more ideas check out our blog post on Tips for Planning Your Spring Cleaning and share your favorite tip for spring cleaning with teens in our Facebook Abundance Declutter Group.