Summer is a fun time for kids and families with cookouts, beach trips, outdoor games and plenty of opportunities for messes! All those summer goodies like popsicles, ice cream, frozen drinks and candy almost seemed to be designed to cause messes just about anywhere. But there are plenty of ways to prevent summer break messes at home and on the road.

Summer Mess Prevention 101: Set Boundaries and Be Prepared

A little prevention goes a long way, and when you lay down a few ground rules to boot, you can prevent summer break messes or at least keep those summer messes under control without sacrificing fun. We’ll start with some basics and move on to some great tips and tricks.

Set Boundaries

Messes are more likely to happen in some areas than others. Tracking the dirt, grass and anything else that sticks to kids from outside into the house makes entrances the number one place where boundaries can make all the difference.

If you have a mudroom, use boot trays for each child. Before they can come into the house, they have to take off their shoes and put them into their tray. After a few days of summer fun, your mudroom may be filled with dirty shoes and socks, mud, grass and more, but the rest of the house is mess free — at least from natural causes!

To prevent messes from all those sticky delights like ice cream and popsicles, the best rule is to make the kids eat them outside. Part ‘B’ of this rule is that any kid eating this stuff has to stand on the doormat and wait for cleanup assistance before entering the house. But we all know there will be “exceptions,” so a backup ground rule could be that any kid eating sticky goodies has to go no further than the kitchen during and after the snack. Not perfect, but at least you can contain messes to one area and save the rest of the house.

Be Ready for Messes When You’re On the Go

When you’re on the go in summer months, anticipating messes in the car and out on summer adventures makes your summer travel more fun and more manageable. Start your mess containment by choosing snacks that aren’t likely to drip, spill or otherwise cause a mess. For lunches on the road, keep a blanket or tablecloth in the trunk and pull it out for a quick picnic at a rest stop to keep the car mess free.

Carry some basic cleanup supplies on these trips, too. Paper towels, a couple of microfiber cloths and a spray bottle with water go a long way toward handling most messes in the car. A great way to be ready to wipe sticky, dirty faces and sudden spills is to keep a damp washcloth in a sealed sandwich bag. Hopefully, the kids can wipe their face and hands after snacking before anything gets on the interior of the car.

Store Cleaning Supplies for Quick and Easy Access

Keeping things where you need them is a basic housekeeping rule and storing cleaning supplies close to areas prone to messes is a summer mess prevention must. Keeping little stashes of cleaning supplies in strategic locations around the house means that you’ll be able to quickly clean up messes and spills before they can cause any more damage.

Put a caddy with your favorite household cleaner, microfiber cloths and a roll of paper towels in key locations like the kitchen, in closets by entryways and in the laundry room. Most stains on carpet, upholstery and furniture can be prevented if the spill is cleaned up quickly. Be ready for those inevitable messes wherever they may happen.

Keep the Fun, Avoid the Mess

Table Rules for Toddlers

An easy way for kids to keep their hands, and your floors, clean is to make a DIY ice cream/popsicle holder. Cut a hole in the bottom of a cupcake wrapper and place the wrapper around the base of the stick or cone. Use colorful wrappers to make it fun. The wrapper will catch the drips and drops and keep all the stickiness where it belongs.

Other ways to prevent toddler messes focus on keeping food and snacks contained in one area. Here are a few that will keep the rest of the house clean and make cleanup easier in your “containment area.”

  • Kids can only eat and drink at the table (or highchair).
  • No sitting on, standing on or leaning across the table.
  • Drinks are poured after the food is served.
  • No toys, phones or other distractions allowed at the table.

To protect carpets and to make kitchen cleanup easier, put a plastic table cloth under kids’ highchairs to catch the debris in one place. Simply bunch up the table cloth after meals and wipe or shake it off to get it ready for the next round. Once the meal is finished, immediately take or direct your kids to the sink and have them wash their faces and hands. These measures will prevent the spreading of snack residue all over the house.  

Playtime Mess Prevention

Kids love glitter and glitter loves to get into and onto anything within reach. Let the kids enjoy the glitter fun but spread paper or plastic over the table first for quick and easy cleanup when they’re done. You can even let the kids help clean up by wrapping tape in reverse around their hands. They can clean up scattered glitter and still have fun doing it.

To keep beach sand, dirt and anything else that sticks to kids out of the house, get them in the habit of doing the doormat dance. Before they can come in, kids have to jump up and down to knock off most of the sand or dirt. Better yet, keep a hose hooked up near the entrance the kids will be using and give their feet a quick rise and make them dry off before coming in.

If you have a pool, set up a towel tree by the pool as a catchall for all those wet towels and hang a laundry line in the bathroom for wet bathing suits. Just make sure they dry off first, or all your mess prevention was for nothing!

No matter what your kids get into this summer, these mess prevention strategies can keep the house clean and the summer fun rolling all season long. And if your prevention strategies fell a little short, you can find great tips for cleaning up hard-to-clean kids’ messes right here, or you could always just call The Maids®!



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