It’s coming: the onslaught of relatives and visitors who stampede into your home during the holiday season. Sure, we love them. Sure, we’re really excited to finally have everyone in one place. But when it comes to cleaning, most people are in a lose-lose situation. We lose when we don’t have the home clean enough, to the disgust of prissy and persnickety relatives. (Does anyone else have a relative who swipes random surfaces to see if there’s dust?) We also lose when we have to police our guests on taking off their shoes, using a coaster, and avoiding spills. So we should keep things clean, but we shouldn’t do anything while people are around to ensure that things are clean.
The holidays can be a really tumultuous time for your rugs, surfaces, and kitchen. Just because you’re playing host doesn’t mean that your whole home has to suffer. But it doesn’t mean you have to slave away without enjoying yourself during the actual parties, either. If you think ahead and have a game plan, you can break out of that lose-lose situation and stress less during that time between Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas.
- Keep your entryways and high-traffic areas clean easily. The secret is throw rugs. Really! Just get two different decorative holiday rugs and switch them out after the family has left.
- You can also put door mats both in outside and on the inside, and encourage your guests to wipe off the salt before stepping inside.
- Brush your dog outside. Do a deep clean of pet hair before people come over.
- Oh, no! Your guests dropped their wine glass. Blot it with a homemade detergent of one teaspoon of clear dish soap without bleach in a cup of warm water. If it’s red wine, follow that up with three-percent-strength hydrogen peroxide.
The Dining/Living Rooms:
- A few days ahead of time, clean your china and glassware.
- Polish your fancy silverware. Remember, never put silver in the dishwasher. Hand-wash it separately from stainless with non-lemon-scented dish soap.
- Set your table with chargers for about a week ahead of time. Then, when you go to set it, just wipe away the dust. This tip is less about cleaning and more about training your family and early visitors to not use the dining table as a dumping ground for bills, mail, homework, and etc.
- Deep-clean these rooms: It’s where your guests will be spending the majority of their time. Dust all surfaces. Then, polish wooden surfaces with this cheap DIY wood polish. It makes messes easier to clean later.
- De-clutter and dust before your decorate. Decorations get in the way of dusting your surfaces, so pick them up and clean them before you put stuff there.
- Switch out your tree skirt. One can get covered in pine needles or just filthy from tree water, broken ornaments, and spills. Keep a separate, laundered one for the big day.
- If someone gets sap from the tree on your upholstery, blot it with rubbing alcohol.
- For those with metal menorahs, stick them in the freezer and flick off the remaining wax.
- Before you get ready to stuff tons of food into your fridge, give it a deep clean. Toss out old or unnecessary condiments, and wash surfaces. This will leave more room for leftovers later.
- Make sure your garbage disposal is clean and works well. It’s likely going to get a lot of use. Also, make sure all drains aren’t clogged by using this homemade drain cleaner recipe.
- When you inevitably spill something on the stove, don’t stress. Pour salt on the mess. Let it soak up the liquid, and then wipe it away after your guests have gone.
- Have someone take out the trash before, after, and during the hullabaloo. Sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of a fresh bag to avoid bad smells.
- To make your entire home smell good in the morning, brew good-quality coffee. Your guests will probably want some, and it hides unpleasant aromas. Another way to keep your house smelling amazing is to have a simmer pot on the stove.
- When working with poultry, clean everything multiple times and wash your hands thoroughly!
- If you have the option, encourage your guests to stick to one bathroom. Then, give that one a really deep clean both before and after.
- Your towels might be a bit musty, especially when you have special, decorative towels that come out once a year. Freshly launder your towels. To get rid of the musty smell, wash them twice, first with baking soda, then with regular detergent. If they’re clean but you just want them to smell nice again, just put them in the dryer for 15 minutes with a fresh-scented dryer sheet.
- Clean the toilet with leftover soda. Let it sit and then brush it away.
- Be kind to your guests by leaving a fancy candle, air freshener spray, or some other way to hide any smells.
- Also, make sure they have plenty of liquid hand soap. Here’s a cheap recipe for it.
- Clean out your medicine cabinet. Yes, people will look. Remove everything, wipe down the shelving, and put back cleaned items that haven’t expired. Make sure to buy medicine people might need, such as basic first aid supplies and antacids.
- Wipe down your mirrors with vinegar and newspapers.
- Launder the sheets and bedspreads and maybe even the pillows if they smell moldy.
- Remove clutter and make sure your guests have room and safe surfaces to place their things.
- Baseboards are noticeable and usually gross. Wipe them down with a dryer sheet.
- Wash your windows. When the sunlight comes streaming in, the fact that you forgot to clean them becomes very obvious. Also, launder or vacuum your curtains.
- Make sure your guests have a place to hang their coats: Make space on your coat rack or in your coat closet.
- When opening presents, have extra bags ready to contain discarded wrapping paper. Also, encourage children to both open presents and play in one area of the house. This will allow you to catch up on cleaning without finding random toys everywhere.
- Blow-dry your wreaths on the cool setting to get rid of dust.
- Polish doorknobs and knockers. Welcome your guests from the moment they knock on the door!