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skip the candy this year and make your small kids a personalized cleaning kit they'll love with this easy DIY - Mine littles went crazy over these!

Candy-Free Valentine: Cleaning Baskets the Whole Family Will Love

You know what’s great about having toddlers around? They actually want to clean! It’s a treat to them.  So much so that I’m giving my littles cleaning baskets for Valentine’s Day because I know they’ll adore them – not because the net result will be a cleaner home for me (that’s just a bonus).

Actually, I already gave my tots a sneak peak of the goods so I could show you how much they loved their new kits… Love them they did and I’m positive your kids will feel the same.

Unless they’ve outgrown the cleaning stage that is.  I’m not entirely sure when that happens but I do know that if you attempt to gift this to your 13 year old, you’re going to be the recipient of some serious eye-rolling.

Want the details on just what’s in our basket (and a few shots of the kids cleaning with glee)?  I’m happy to oblige…

candy-free Valentine, kids cleaning kits, kids chores, Valentine baskets

The inspiration for these kits came from a few places.  First, I’ve been meaning to make S and C their own cleaning caddies ever since Kaley first posted these DIY kids cleaning kits for us.  Second, I kind of have a tradition of coming up with candy-free holiday gifts – see our Water Bead Easter Eggs and Creative Play Easter Baskets for two examples.

I picked up everything I needed at our local grocery store (QFC in case you have one locally).  The baskets were from the Valentine aisle and everything else was readily available in the cleaning aisle:

  • Method all-purpose cleaning spray (lavender and pink grapefruit)
  • Dish sponges (I thought the pink stripes were especially festive)
  • Microfiber dish clothes

candy-free Valentine, kids cleaning kits, kids chores, Valentine baskets

In each basket, I left one sponge intact and turned one into a sponge ball.  I made these sponge balls for the kids as bath toys a few years back and they were a big hit so I figured including them would only up the cleaning fun.

To make: simply cut your sponge into strips, tie some floss around the center, and twist.

candy-free Valentine, kids cleaning kits, kids chores, Valentine baskets

That’s it – the easiest, lowest-prep Valentine basket ever!  And, as predicted, the kids couldn’t get enough.

First it was the table, then the cupboards, and finally the sink.  And, no, they didn’t want to stop there but it was time for S’s nap.  Actually, the kids were so exuberant in their spraying and wiping (in typical toddler fashion) that I may decide to water down the method spray tonight.  That way they can still spray away without totally overdoing it.

candy-free Valentine, kids cleaning kits, kids chores, Valentine baskets

Question of the Day

How do you get your kids involved in the cleaning?  Suggestions from parents of tots and older kids would be equally appreciated!



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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa February 10, 2013 at 10:11 pm

This is too cute – I just have to make a basket for my helpful 2-year old! Quick question – what site is the coupon code for? I don’t see a link.


mpmk February 10, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Yay! So glad you’re going to try it. There are links in the first paragraph of the post (“method” and “$1 off coupon”) as well as the last sentence – they’re all in pink. Hope that helps!


mpmk February 10, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Changed it try try to make it more clear :)


Lisa February 10, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Thank you! I don’t know how I missed it the first time. Long day. 😉 Love your site!


mpmk February 11, 2013 at 12:17 am

No worries, I’m glad you found it. I think the diapers.com link is already cheaper than in the store so with the $1 off coupon it’s a steal!

Janssen February 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm

This is DARLING. My toddler loves to clean too and would probably think this is the best thing ever!


shannon j February 11, 2013 at 1:21 am

I don’t even have to ask them to get into cleaning (must be a toddler thing)! They love to do it on their own, especially my just-turned-two-year old. He actually asked Santa for a vacuum… and got one. :) They are both going to be getting a red kids’ broom set/dustpan for Valentine’s Day with some other non-candy items…with a simple card I typed up on cardstock that tells them, “You SWEEP me off my feet, Valentine!”


sarai February 11, 2013 at 8:41 am

This is very cute-my toddlers love to “clean” too- but I just worry about chemicals, etc. I know method is more “natural” but …..could you put a momma’s mind at ease and give us the lowdown on whether or not there were any problems with getting it sprayed in an eye or in the mouth??? (I know I am not the only mom wondering about this!) I think I might just try a water spray bottle or something.


mpmk February 11, 2013 at 5:19 pm


I didn’t have any trouble with stuff getting sprayed in eyes or mouths but if you’re concerned you could certainly substitute with water. Another idea would be to give the kids water spray bottles of their own to use and have a bottle of all-purpose cleaner that you keep somewhere and allow each child to use for one spray as they’re cleaning up.



Nicole February 11, 2013 at 10:45 pm

This is a cute idea! Where are the cute little buckets from? I love the way you cut the sponges…my littles will love that!


mpmk February 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Hi there,

I found the baskets at the grocery store but I’ve since seen the same ones at party stores too.


Phoenix Barresse February 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Thanks! My 2 year old twins would love these! They love to clean everything. :)


holly February 15, 2013 at 1:34 am

this is so simple and easy! who would have thought…my toddler will love this idea so much. thanks!


Jessica February 22, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Those are too cute! I haven’t been great at getting my kids involve in cleaning, but it’s getting to be about that time, I think.


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