How to Keep a Clean House with 5 Children Living in It

Unfortunately, I don't have all the answers, but we often hear from realtors that view our home with their clients - "How do you keep your house so clean with ALL the kids you have?"

To begin with, a dirty, cluttered house is not an option if you are wanting your house to sell.

I've learned a few things over the past year of having our house for sale that has really decreased the stress of "keeping it clean"! Getting the kids involved from a young age really helps. It's not long before they can be a big help that can be counted on. Something you need when trying to get the house ready for visitors in a short period of time.

First - get rid of stuff! Anything that is broken needs to be thrown away. It's amazing how we keep things that are broken just because we don't have another one to replace it with. Kids are really bad at this. We had lots of Barbies with missing arms or legs, torn doll dresses, and chewed on toys. A promise of a new item at a later date will usually encourage them to part with the worn out item.

Belongings that are never used, in the way, moved from room to room with no real home - needs to find a place in the Goodwill box. We keep this box in the garage and add to it regularly when we discover items that we don't really need or want.

Once you have a room, such as a child's bedroom or playroom, de-cluttered to just the items you want to keep, the fun begins! We let each child keep out what she could fit in a large plastic tote - with the lid on. This box was neatly stored in her closet. The rest of her toys we packed away neatly in labeled plastic totes and put them in the attic. Occasionally we will get one of these boxes out and refresh the toys in the tote that are kept out permanently. It was amazing to me that the kids didn't really miss the items that were put up in the attic. They rarely ask to get them down. Proves we had too many toys to begin with!

When they want to buy a new toy, they must make sure that it will fit in their box in their closet. Often I suggest we put it on the Birthday List and wait till then to see if we're really that interested in the item.

A few household rules help. All items in the room must have a home and they must stay in that place unless being actively used. We have a place where all our electronic items - tablets, Ipads - are kept. This keeps them from being laid around all over the house. All clothes must be put away, not piled on the floor, before bedtime. The less that has to be picked up and put away at a later time, the cleaner the house on an everyday basis.

In the kitchen, find a place for the majority of items to live when not in use. A bare counter top is easier to wipe down, looks cleaner and makes the kitchen look bigger. The only major appliance I keep out is my Kcup coffee maker because it is too big and heavy to move in and out of a cabinet. Plus we use it all day long in the winter time to make warm drinks.


Removing excess decorations around the house has helped to keep it tidier as well. Any realtor or stager will tell you to de-personalize your home when you have it on the market. Putting extra things away and creating clear surfaces makes them easier to keep them clean as well. If there aren't 20 birdhouses arranged on the front table, there's less to dust and less to straighten right before a house showing or guest arrive for a visit.

We keep cleaning supplies in every bathroom of the house. Each older member of our household is responsible for keeping clean the bathroom they use the most. With the cleaning supplies right where they are needed, there's no time spent looking for them or waiting until someone else is done with them in their bathroom cleaning job. The only thing we don't replicate in each bathroom is a broom for the floor.

Thursdays are bathroom cleaning days, but we do use the Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes for last minute wipe downs in bathrooms and the kitchen.
The last thing you want in creating a clean house is for dirty clothes to be all over the place. I plan to write an entire blog post on how I've conquered the laundry monster. The main point is to have a laundry system that you like and that works for you and your family. We initially had one that worked - everyone doing their own laundry-, but I didn't really like all of the consequences of that plan. I now do a load or two a day of everyone's laundry together, and we don't have any dirty clothes lying around on a regular basis. Much easier than having a smelly closet from a dirty clothes basket when you are showing the house to a potential buyer.
Floors are my big sticking point in a clean house! If they are messy or sticky they make the whole house look dirty. We clean floors in the kitchen and living areas Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on a regular basis. This means picking large items up and putting them away - mainly books or Cade's toys, sweeping and mopping if necessary. Touch ups can be quickly done when a realtor calls for an appointment or a friend calls to say they are coming by.
With a lot of de-cluttering up front and a little cooperation from everyone in the household, we are able to clean our house in a short amount of time and keep it that way!

Do you have any good cleaning ideas to add? Please comment.

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