Holiday Cleaning Tips Mantel Christmas Tree Cleaning Bottle Rag Those Someday Goals

Holiday Cleaning Tips to Get Festive Ready

I am always looking for holiday cleaning tips as soon as the starter gun goes off for the holiday sprint. Yes, that’s what I call this time of year – it’s the last 44 days of the year, and my to-do list is longer than ever. And we aren’t even traveling this year! On the upside, I have gotten really good at developing holiday cleaning tips that will keep me on top of things (more or less) and give me some hope that there will be some relaxed festive days between now and January 1.

Start with the Bathroom

I like deep cleaning our bathroom before guests arrive, no matter what time of year. However, when the holidays are rapidly approaching, it feels vital. To keep myself on schedule, I do a deep clean several days ahead of schedule. We don’t have kids, so keeping the space tidy is pretty easy. Then, in the hours before guests arrive, we do a tidy, where we also wipe down surfaces and clean mirrors.

We only have one main bathroom in the apartment, so before guests arrive, we stash our daily-use items in a secure spot. Nobody needs to see our toothbrushes. We disinfect the toilet and take Lysol or Clorox wipes to the counters and sink. We also make sure that the mirror looks good – no matter how clean the rest of the bathroom is, if the mirror has spots on it, the whole bathroom will feel gross.

Woman Cleaning Mirror Holiday Cleaning Tips Those Someday Goals
Credit: altafulla / Shutterstock

As final touches, we ensure that extra toilet paper is in the cabinet, matches and candles have been replenished, and a fresh towel (or set of towels) is ready to go. And one of my favorite holiday cleaning tips for the bathroom is to take a quick dry Swiffer trip around the space to pick up any stray hairs or dust that may have accumulated. I know it sounds like a lot, but if the deep clean has already been done, this day-of wipe-down should take less than 10 minutes.

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Clear and Light Your Entryway

We focus a lot on decorations, but when you have guests arriving, don’t overlook how cluttered the entryway might be from daily use. I suggest making sure that the exterior of your front door is clean and that the glass (if you have it) is shining. Just these little touches will make your guests feel welcomed.

Another of my favorite holiday cleaning tips focuses on the inside of your entryway. If guests enter into your mudroom, be sure that the floors are clean and that there is easily accessible space for coats, gloves, and hats. Boot trays are terrific for keeping the debris from a wintry outside world away from your home’s floors and carpets. If your entry area normally houses an extensive collection of cast-offs, tidy up the drop zone, and put things away that you won’t need immediately to free up space and offer your guests (and yourself) a sense of calm.

To be honest, I do this entryway clear-out fairly often. It opens into our living space, and I hate when the first thing I see coming into the room is clutter.

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Tidy Your Entertaining Space

Where are you entertaining guests? You may have a living room, an open-concept space that is both dining and living, or a family room. One of my “must-do” holiday cleaning tips is an “assess the mess” survey of our entertaining space. This will allow you to prioritize your cleaning energy.

Start by dusting coffee tables, end tables, and any other space that is likely to see a drink or a plate set on it. And after you have cleaned it, it’s a terrific time to put down coasters or holiday touches since you are already getting a feel for the space. Remove extra magazines and consider whether having your coffee table books out is a great visual or a stack of things that will get in the way of holiday snacks. If it is the latter, move them to another room until after your festivities.

Next, really give your sofa or fabric chairs a good look. We are lucky in that we can wash our main couch cushion covers, so (in pre-pandemic times) when we knew people were staying on our fold-out sofa, I would wash all the cushion covers. Your cushions may not see that kind of wear and tear. Still, I highly recommend using a fabric brush and vacuuming your couches and chairs – particularly if you have pets.

And since you have the vacuum out, give your high-traffic areas a going over if they are covered by area rugs or carpet. If not, grab that dry Swiffer, and run it around your floors just before guests arrive.

We only entertain outside, but we do a version of this. We take the cushions for our second-hand outside furniture from the shed and vacuum them with our cordless vac. We sweep up extra leaves and ensure that the tables have been wiped down and are snack ready.

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Tame the Kitchen

Alas, there aren’t a lot of quick holiday cleaning tips that work for the kitchen, particularly if you are hosting big meals, as you might be on Thanksgiving. As hosts, we always think we’ll finish cooking before friends arrive. I have visions of us relaxing and popping the Champagne so that we are the picture of calm as we welcome people to the door. This is basically never true. And Andy does most of the cooking, and I’m not going to rush genius! (No, seriously, he is an amazing chef!)

When we have hosted Thanksgiving outside, we broke down the kitchen clean into three stages: 1) Prep in the days before, 2) Catch up on dishes and wipe down counters pre-guests, 3) Massive clean-up after the festivities.

The prep two days before is relatively straightforward. That time allows us to clean out the refrigerator, take stock of our supplies, free up countertops for food prep, and clean up any small appliances (like teapots and toasters) that might stay in place. I also like to clean special glasses, flatware, and serving dishes that might be used.

Holiday Cleaning Tips Woman Washing Thanksgiving Dishes with Reusable Cloth Those Someday Goals
Credit: Denison_Photography / Shutterstock

I like cleaning as I go, but when full Thanksgiving cooking is underway, that gets tricky. Basically, this means that as Andy is roasting or slow-cooking something, I’ll step in to clean any cookware that has been dirtied and is no longer in use. Andy will also try to do this as he goes so that we don’t have tons of pots and pans waiting to be cleaned in our tiny kitchen sink when dirty dishes arrive later.

If the garbage is already substantial, I’ll take it out so we have room for more later and the smells don’t intrude on holiday festivities – particularly important if you live in a small space! I also like to wipe up some counters and the stove if I can do it without disturbing ongoing meal prep.

And, of course, we have all seen the chaos of what happens after the meal. We don’t have a dishwasher, so that can be a bit daunting, but there isn’t a set deadline for getting it done, so we take that in shifts. The post-party clean-up includes only two additional phases – oven cleaning and a good floor scrubbing, just in case food has fallen onto it during prep. I once lived in graduate housing that was constantly fighting pests, and ever since then, I’ve been sort of paranoid about bugs and dropped food.

Prep the Guest Spaces

If you have a special guest room (or even a guest sleeper sofa), you can prep that space within a couple days of friends or family arriving. This means getting clean sheets on, extra bedding laid out, and fresh towels available. Basically, among my final holiday cleaning tips is something you probably already want to do – prep your guest spaces so they feel welcoming and comfortable.

And after writing this, I realize I have some cleaning work to do!

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