Unfortunately, dishes don't clean themselves, dust doesn't magically disappear and clothes don't get unwrinkled just by hanging there. That's why there's a responsibility and a need for chores to be done. But who does the chores at your household?
Are you a part-time, full-time worker or a stay at home mother? Do you allocate the chores between family members or do you do them all yourself?
It is also important to teach children about responsibility whether it is picking up their own rubbish or helping out with dinner preparations. When did you start teaching them to be responsible for themselves?
I currently live alone, so that's a no-brainer, yet I occasionally get a cleaner in to handle the toughest rooms in the house, such as the bathroom.
However, in a family situation, develop a roster with a rewards system for kids. Think stickers and treats. That does work wonders. At my sisters place, the oldest niece empty's the dishwasher for example. Keep people accountable.
I agree with Jsutine. A rewards system can do wonders in making your house spick and span. My sister rewards my 5 year old nephew with a 10 or 50 cent coin every time he completes a chore. Once he receives a reward, he dashes to his piggy bank and drop the coin inside. He says he is saving for a new toy.
I also run a rewards system, however rather than having regular chores, the kids can choose which job they wish to do. Certain jobs are worth more, like cleaning the windows, so they are rewarded with more money for greater effort.
I've never used a rewards system but I'd get my daughter to do age-appropriate duties around the house from an early age. For example, even very little children can do some dusting, pick up their toys, dry the washing and water the plants. I always emphasised that, since everyone in our family lives together in one house, it's the duty of us all to keep it clean and tidy. Young children often see cleaning the house as a game and actually enjoy doing it. The only problem is that sometimes they don't do such a good job, so you might have to redo it later (preferably when they're not around to see)! The point is, to get them into a good habit...one that they'll follow the rest of their lives.
To make cleaning more fun for young children, you can also buy wonderful kids cleaning sets with brooms, dust-pans and other stuff. My daughter had some of these when she was little, and they were amongst her favourite toys.