Tips for Getting Kids to Help Clean

Wouldn't it be nice if summer didn't mean a messy house? I was thrilled to be a part of the this month's issue of TulsaKids Magazine. In this article by Betty Casey, I shared tips for keeping your home nice and tidy. My secret? Give the kiddos some ownership in assisting with the chores. Brilliant, right? Check it out:

School is out and that means kids are at home, their friends are over more, and the house is feeling the strain. While summer may mean more mess, it also means that you have more leisurely time and daylight to teach children simple tasks to keep the house clean and clutter-free, giving everyone more time to head to the pool or park. 

Expert cleaner Amy Bates, owner of Merry Maids in Tulsa, and mom, has some advice that will help involve the kids in keeping things tidy, so the whole family can spend more time having fun.

Start by looking at the ways your family uses your home. Notice where items tend to pile up or create clutter. “Have areas and baskets of your home dedicated to the items that are frequently left by the entrances and exits of your home,” Bates said. “If towels tend to be dropped right outside the patio doors leading to the pool, place a basket handy. Hooks for camp bags, bins and baskets for balls and outdoor toys should be handy in the garage. The easier it is to put things away, the more likely things will make it to their keeping areas.” 

Another smart idea to support tidy interiors is to hang shoe pockets on the bathroom doors. Tuck hair products, hair ties, bows, brushes and other small items that tend to be left strewn on counters into the pockets of the hanger. “Clear pockets make it easy to see what you need,” Bates said. “Also in bathrooms, consider hooks instead of towel bars to make it easier to put away towels. My kids were challenged with towel bars in their younger years. Easy storage makes it far easier to avoid stinky towels!”

Labeling clear bins for toys also makes it easier for children to put belongings where they belong. And if you need more storage, Bates suggests looking for unused storage areas. Throw away items you never use and reclaim the space for things you do use.

Children can also help with tidying up the house at the end of the day. “Have the children grab an empty laundry basket and round up their belongings to take back to their room,” Bates said. “If you have younger children, consider making it a contest to see who can pick up the fastest! Making it a part of your routine, this is a great habit to carry over throughout the school year.” 

Bates said that her high traffic areas need vacuuming more than once a week, but other areas can wait for a weekly sweep. Other weekly tasks such as dusting are easier once you have clutter-free surfaces, so staying on top of clutter every day shortens the time spent on once-a-week cleaning. Because families are usually less rushed during the summer months, Bates suggests that it’s a good time to talk to children about expectations for chores so that everyone can work together to keep “the house looking good and feeling manageable” in a short amount of time.

“If you like to have allowances earned (like I do!),” Bates said, “have a chart with a few ‘above and beyond’ projects like sweeping the garage, mating the unmatched sock pile, etc. that can be done to earn a little extra money.”

Good Chores for Elementary School Kids

  • Loading and unloading the dishwasher
  • Cleaning bathroom counters, patio doors
  • Picking up their own toys
  • Matching socks, sorting laundry
  • Setting the table
  • Dust mopping wood floors
  • Sweeping the porch
  • Feeding and walking the dog
  • Assist with changing linens, and dusting.

The key is to be patient with children, and to give specific tasks in small enough areas to make them achievable. 

Helpful Hints for Getting Kids to Clean

  • Set clear expectations. Bates says that “pick up your room” can mean a lot of different things to kids.
  • Set attainable goals (for example, don’t say, “Clean up the whole house before you leave in one hour.” Be specific)
  • Give immediate tasks to younger children (“Please pick up the toys since you are done playing with them.”)
  • Assign weekly tasks to older children so they can learn to manage responsibilities and time.

Breathe Easy: How to clean your home to fend off allergies and asthma

This month, I was thrilled to talk to Tulsa People Magazine about my cleaning tips for keeping allergens in check! My tips were a part of a larger story on the facts behind allergies and asthma, with expert advice from local doctors..."If you’re sneezing inside your home, allergy triggers might be present. Some of them might be coming inside the house with you..."

Here's What Happened When I Let My Family Clean the House for Two Weeks

Here's What Happened When I Let My Family Clean the House for Two Weeks

When asked me to stop doing housework for two weeks, I was terrified. For starters, we're your typical, busy Midwestern family with two teenage sons and two dogs. My husband Alan is a tidy and fastidious civil engineer, and I am the proud owner of a Merry Maids office and the founder of the Don't Look Under the Rug blog. The two of us divide the chores (Alan washes dishes, cooks, and vacuums; while I handle laundry, grocery shopping, and monitoring general clutter) and the boys are expected to pick up after themselves. That said, I do feel I handle more than my fair share of housework after a day at the office.

I don't think my standards are unrealistic. I love things to be clean, but I also enjoy living in my home. We do have a mail pile and a "take it up the stairs" collection. So, eventually, I felt cautiously optimistic about taking a two-week hiatus from housework. My boys are well-behaved, helpful, and only slightly sloth-like when it comes to picking up after themselves — how bad could it be? 

International Home + Housewares Show 2016 - Chicago

I just got back from the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago and it was a blast! This truly was a Mecca for the cleaning obsessed! I loved previewing innovative new products, and exploring the event with fellow cleaning nuts!...I even got to meet MR. CLEAN (he does exist!)...scroll through my photos for proof:

How To Clean Your Cast Iron Skillet Without Using Soap

I really enjoy cooking with a good cast iron skillet. I love being able to take the skillet from stove top to oven in a snap. Plus, the heavy skillet speeds up cook time of roasting chicken, without drying it out, and leaves it with a delicious golden color. 

Bare cast iron vessels have been used for cooking for over two thousand years, and date back as early as the Han Dynasty. In many cases, you will see cast iron skillets, dutch ovens, or other containers passed down from generation to generation -- from grandmother, to mother, to daughter, and so on. These skillets have experienced A LOT of cooking hours, and no doubt many people will have put a lot of care in maintaining the skillet's "seasoning". This seasoning is what keeps your skillet from rusting and creates a non-stick surface, so it is definitely worth protecting. Whether you are the recipient of a generational skillet, or you bought one brand new, you definitely want to take care of it!

Cast iron skillets are different than other cooking tools, so the way you clean them needs to be different, too! The key...DO NOT WANT TO USE SOAP when cleaning your cast iron skillet (I repeat: DO NOT USE SOAP WHEN CLEANING YOUR CAST IRON SKILLET)! Why? Because using soap will take away the seasoning!

Here's my cleaning tip for cleaning your cast iron one minute:

I shared this cleaning tip with my friends at the NewsOn6 - The key to protecting your cast iron is to NOT use soap on it!

I shared this cleaning tip with my friends at the NewsOn6 - The key to protecting your cast iron is to NOT use soap on it!

How To Clean Up Now That The Holidays Are Over - Today Show Cleaning Tips


If you follow me online, you will know I recently was on the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda! It was an amazing experience, and I absolutely loved sharing quick cleaning tricks to help viewers clean up after guests. The whole trip was a whirlwind filled with friends, laughs, a little bit of nerves, and of course...some amazing cleaning tips! 


Now for the behind the scenes of my trip to the Today Show:

I definitely want to send out a mega huge THANKS to Merry Maids for the opportunity to represent them. Plus, my great friend Kim was so much fun while she dashed around New York City with me! We have been friends for many years and she was sweet enough to take off a bit of time from her job to help keep me sane (let's just say, I am not use to the hustle and bustle of NYC)!

When I arrived, we met and went for a delicious dinner of Peking Duck at a awesome little place called Decoy.  It was simply amazing, and rightfully so, because I found out later that Decoy's Perking Duck was ranked #1 out of 10 Top NYC Restaurants by GQ's Alan Richman!  I LOVE Peking duck, and so I was glad she made a reservation! 

Trying to procure all of the props and stain them for the Today Show segment was not easy. I am grateful the Merry Maid's home office team member helped shop and stain things for me!  Even the candles had to be burned down. The cooking segment before mine had Kathie Lee Gifford giving a sample of the choco-covered banana to a guest.  Right before I went live (live taped), the producer saw that he had disposed of his banana in my coffee cup and used my clean cleaning cloth to wipe his face! This all worked out perfectly, because the stained and dirty dishes actually looked like stained and dirty dishes!!

As I waited in the green room, my tummy was growling SO loudly I was terrified the microphone was going to pick up the sound! But I was a little distracted at least because I saw Carmen Elektra and Rachel Patton in the green room!

When I got on set Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda are nothing short of hilarious and sweet.  They immediately made me feel comfortable and were so fun to work with on set!  I just wished I could have completed all of the cleaning tips, as promised. I've done television segments many times in the past, and it never seems like you have enough time. But then again, I guess time flies when you are having fun! 

Traveling during this trip was a little challenging.  I never, EVER, leave anything behind...until now! I started off the night before my segment by leaving my phone in a cab! Thank goodness it was delivered back to me at the hotel! Thank you, honest cabbie! There was construction next door to my room. Thankfully the hotel staff moved me, but I left my nightgown in the room, and it was never seen again.  Then, I realized I left my beloved hair dryer in the hotel when I headed back to Tulsa! Next time, I will keep my travel packing cubes perfectly and double check the room.  

As a joke, when I travel I look for items people leave behind in hotel rooms - like socks or random shoes. No luck this time (which isn't necessarily a bad thing)! My room at the Hilton was very clean, and staff was awesome. But, they likely are laughing at me now, because I AM THE ONE WHO LEFT SO MUCH BEHIND!

News on 6: How To Clean Under The Toilet Rim

So, I think we can all agree that stains under the rim of the toilet bowl are less than appealing, right? Well, this past week on KOTV - The News On 6 I demonstrated tricks on how to get rid of those unsightly mineral deposits and stains. 

What your need:
Pumice Stone or Drywall Screen

#happycleaning, Amy Bates

News on 6: Reseal Countertops To Keep Them Looking Great

Over time wear and tear takes a toll on your countertops. If you notice water is soaking into your countertops (instead of beading up) then you need to definitely reseal them. Generally, you need to reseal countertops every six to twelve months to keep them in good shape. It's not a complicated process but some may find it intimidating. As the holidays are coming up you want to make sure your countertops look great, so I checked in with my friends at News On 5 (KOTV) to show you how!

#happycleaning - Amy Bates

News on 6: Tips On Stubborn Stains

Showed News on 6 this week that club soda may not always do the trick for stubborn stains. Especially when it comes to permanent marker and ballpoint pins getting on your clothing (or children!), it doesn't have to be a lost cause. Grab a couple of items you have in your bathroom, find a clean cloth and get ready to be amazed!

#happycleaning - Amy

News on 6: Cleaning Dirty Coffee Pots in a Jiffy

As I write this, I am finishing up a glorious cup of french press coffee. I admit, I make multiple batches of coffee throughout the day. With all that use, my coffee carafe can get stained and dirty from the coffee ground overload. However, if your coffee carafe is insulated, you can't simply put it in the dishwasher to get it clean. However, there is a natural way to get it clean safely! So I checked-in with my friends at News on 6 in Tulsa this week with a quick tip to help keep those overworked coffee pots ready for the next brew!

What yoU need:

  • Fresh lemon
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • Water
  • Crushed ice