What IS the Secret to Keeping a Teenager’s Room Clean?

What IS the Secret to Keeping a Teenager’s Room Clean?

What IS the secret to keeping a teenager’s rooms clean?

I am going to share with you how you can teach a teenager, how to keep their room clean and the secrets I learned through years of experience and by trying a little experiment.

To begin with, I let my teenagers’ rooms get out of hand so I could see where a lot of the problems begin and how to effectively eliminate them. Sometimes to get to the root of a problem you have to find out where it came from originally. As hard as it was for me to let it go that bad, it gave me an eye-opening revelation.

A messy desk without any dedicated storage.

A desk without any dedicated storage area will soon get out of hand.

The desk is organized and has become an office area.

The desk is organized and has become an ‘office’ area.

Just look at the before picture of the desk! What you notice is too much stuff and not enough ‘dedicated’ places for it to go. When your children were little, you would get rid of their ‘baby’ toys and their outgrown clothing. Now as teenagers they don’t outgrow their clothing and they don’t get little throwaway toys as presents. Jewelry, MP3 players, stereos and clothing have become expensive presents and it’s no wonder that they want to keep them. Items like these are expected to last a few years.

Begin by cleaning their room thoroughly. Everything should be taken out of the room, cleaned off (it is amazing the amount of dust that can accumulate quickly) and evaluated as to whether it could be packed up or thrown away.  In my daughter’s room we packed four large totes, two with out-of-season clothing and two with keepsakes and stored them away. This gave us much more room to work with. Even the closet got a makeover and she was so thrilled with the end result that she exclaimed that it felt like a real walk-in closet!

A well organized closet where everything can be located easily.

A well organized closet where everything can be easily found and put away.

What I discovered from this experiment;

1. Teenagers can’t distinguish between items of junk and items of value, not only because of inexperience but because of the self-worth connected with them.

2. Everything needs a storage space and needs to be made as easy as possible to use. If it’s too hard to use or too hard to put away, they won’t do it.

3. Have your teenagers work along side of you so they see the cleaning process and show them right away where things are going. Otherwise be prepared to answer questions for the next few weeks about where something is located!

4. Everything needs a place! Buy storage items that work with your needs. Shoving things in too small of a box will lead to frustration. Items without a home will end up everywhere, so sort them with other similar items. A good example would be pencils, erasers, rulers and calculator in one box.

5. Be prepared if your teenagers share a room! They might fight over who puts things away and who doesn’t. Separating everything may possibly be the answer to this problem.

6. Once the room is finished, check it frequently, not only to evaluate if the new system is working for them but to continue to ‘train’ them with reminders.

7. Start young, I know if you are reading this it’s because you already have come across this problem. I do address this subject in a post for Social Moms called ‘Oh No! It’s Time To Tell The Kids To Clean Your Rooms!’

Now, what is the secret to keeping your teenager’s room clean? Believe it or not it’s everything I mentioned. However the real secret is NOT letting their rooms fill up with too much stuff.


  1. Melanie Oliveri :

    Great ideas Kathleen!! You do wonderful work!