There is more to an education than just reading, writing, and arithmetic. Life skills are an essential part of growing up. They prepare our children for living on their own, with roommates, and with spouses. There are numerous life skills that teens need to learn on their way to adulthood. Budgeting, car maintenance, balancing a checkbook, grocery shopping, cooking, and laundry are just a few. Today I want to talk about how to clean the kitchen. As parents, it’s important to make sure our teens know the steps involved in properly cleaning the kitchen. I’ve included a set of printable checklists in this article to help make the process easier for both you and your child.
Written by Erin of Nourishing My Scholar.
A clean kitchen doesn’t mean you washed a single load of dishes or took out a single bag of trash. Those things help, but a clean kitchen they do not always make. As parents, we are preparing our children for adulthood. We need to teach them the skills they need to be successful. That includes cleaning their own kitchen and doing a thorough job of it.
Life Skills for Teens: How to Clean the Kitchen (with Printable Checklists)
Daily Kitchen Cleaning Tasks
A daily cleaning schedule may differ depending on the size of your family and the amount of mess they tend to make. Our Daily Kitchen Cleaning looks like this:
- washing dishes – Teach your teen how to load the dishwasher and turn it on. We tend to do three loads of dishes per day, so I usually get my teen to do one load, and I do the rest. Make sure he or she knows how to handwash dishes too. Some dishes such as wooden utensils and knives are handwash only.
- cleaning the sink – The sink sees a lot of abuse, from dirty dishes to raw meat and everything in between. You need to give it a thorough cleaning each day and after any raw meat is handled. This is an important lesson in preventing foodborne illnesses. Make sure your teen knows not to reuse any dishcloths or sponges that have come in contact with raw meat.
- wiping down the counters, stove, microwave, or any small appliances – This gets any dust and grease cleaned away. But if you have pets, it also clears away any shed hairs. It’s also essential to wipe off any crumbs to prevent rodent or bug infestations. Again, if raw meat has been handled on the counter, you want to teach your teen how to clean it up properly.
- putting away clutter/items left on counters – Your teen probably already knows that, if items are left on counters, they tend to multiply! (Well, at least it seems like they do!) Teach your teen to clear clutter and put away everything each morning or evening or whenever it fits your daily routine.
- taking out the trash – Your teen needs to know not only to take out the trash but also to place another clean trash bag in the trash can. It can be easy to forget to replace the trash bag! We tend to take out the trash two or three times per day. Larger families may need this done more often.
- sweeping – It’s important for your teen to know to sweep not only the main areas where it’s easy to see dirt and trash on the floor but also places such as underneath the table, in corners of the room, etc.
Weekly Kitchen Cleaning Tasks
A weekly checklist may look a little different depending on your family and their needs. Ours looks like this:
- Mopping (after sweeping the floors).
- Wiping down the inside of the microwave.
- Wiping down the fronts of the kitchen cabinets.
Monthly Kitchen Cleaning Tasks
There are a few items I try to do monthly to keep the kitchen clean and tidy. I’ve explained the hows and whys to my son as well.
- cleaning the oven – This is much easier to do if you have a self-cleaning oven, but otherwise, doing it monthly keeps the buildup from getting too out of hand.
- cleaning out and wiping down the inside of the fridge – Let’s face it; gross things accumulate in the refrigerator. Things get pushed to the back and forgotten. It’s always a great idea to teach your teen how to clean out the fridge. This should include throwing out old or expired food as well as wiping all shelves and doors and drawers. This may require removing the food that’s in the refrigerator and replacing it after the inside of the fridge is clean–especially if there are spills or leaks that need to be cleaned.
Never too Early to Learn a Life Skill
It’s never too early to learn a life skill. I started teaching these skills when my children were little, and we have slowly added to them. Now, my teen can combine them. I don’t have my teen clean the entire kitchen daily. The important thing is that he knows how.
Usually, the cleaning of our kitchen is a family affair. Someone empties the dishwasher, someone else fills the dishwasher and cleans the sink, another person cleans the counters while someone else starts sweeping. But, if necessary, my teen knows how to do all of these things independently.
These are skills that I am teaching my son and daughter equally. Whenever they go off to college, get their own homes, or get married, I will send them off knowing I taught them everything I could about keeping their kitchens tidy and clean.
So, while learning to read and write ARE of the highest importance, I also like to throw a few life skills into our everyday routine. After all, our goal for our children is to help them become successful adults, and knowing how to keep a clean house is an important part of that.
To download your own set of daily, weekly, and monthly printable checklists for cleaning the kitchen, click each link below.
Each printable checklist includes step-by-step instructions for completing each task. Also included is an extra checkbox or two for use if you need to add a task that’s not included on the list.
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