19 Holiday Cleaning Tips That Make Tidying Up Easy

christmas decor garlands room
Photo: Ray Kachatorian

Eliminate day-of holiday cleaning chaos by dividing your tasks into doable segments. These holiday cleaning tips will help you prioritize chores to achieve a tidier home well before guests arrive, as well as quickly tackle any messes that happen throughout the day.

01 of 19

7-Day Holiday Cleaning Plan

cream holiday dining table with flokati throw on dining bench
Kritsada Panichgul

The key to successful holiday cleaning is to start early. Plan to kick off your housekeeping tasks several days in advance. On the following slides, we'll break down a 7-day holiday cleaning schedule that makes seasonal cleaning so much easier. By accomplishing a few major tasks each day, all that will be left is a bit of last-minute shine when the big day arrives.

02 of 19

7-Day Holiday Cleaning Plan: Day 1

Christmas Pillar Garland
Frances Janisch

To kick off your holiday cleaning, walk through your home with a visitor's eye. Make notes of any imperfections you might be used to but guests might notice, such as houseplants with dead leaves. Next, make a plan for turning cleaning for the holidays into a group effort. Gather family members, go over the plan, and assign chores. Remember: many hands make light work.

03 of 19

7-Day Holiday Cleaning Plan: Day 2

greenery wreath window seat
Adam Albright

On your second day of cleaning for the holidays, focus on specific areas that will be easily viewable by guests but aren't likely to get dirty again.

  1. Wash windows and vacuum window screens.
  2. Damp-mop baseboards.
  3. Launder and press window and shower curtains.
  4. Launder bedspreads if needed.
04 of 19

7-Day Holiday Cleaning Plan: Day 3

embroidery hoops christmas bedroom decor
Adam Albright

Next, tidy up any bathrooms and bedrooms visitors are likely to see or use. This is especially important if your guests will be staying the night.

  1. Deep-clean bathrooms and medicine cabinets (yes, people will look).
  2. Straighten bedrooms; remove clutter and donate or store out of sight.
05 of 19

7-Day Holiday Cleaning Plan: Day 4

garland covered staircase above wooden bench
Jay Wilde

As it gets closer to the holidays, make sure your entryway is ready to receive guests.

  1. Straighten coat closet, making room for guests' coats. Add extra hangers if needed.
  2. Wash or spot-clean area rugs.
06 of 19

7-Day Holiday Cleaning Plan: Day 5

cottage kitchen with Christmas wreath on range hood
Jay Wilde

Two days before the event, it's time to deep-clean the kitchen in preparation for holiday cooking.

  1. Clean range or stovetop, surfaces, and grates.
  2. Clean out the refrigerator, making room for party foods. Dust the top of the refrigerator.
  3. Wipe down all large and small appliances.
  4. Wipe down kitchen cabinets.
  5. Take recycling to recycling bins or facilities.
07 of 19

7-Day Holiday Cleaning Plan: Day 6

pale blue buffet with mini Christmas trees on display
Adam Albright

Wait until the day before guests arrive to tackle tasks like dusting and sweeping. Your home's surfaces are likely to get dirty again before the event if you do this too early.

  1. Sweep the entryway and decorate with seasonal touches.
  2. Dust all surfaces, including bookshelves, photo frames, and art. Don't forget the ceiling fans.
  3. Clean the kitchen sink and dish drainer.
08 of 19

7-Day Holiday Cleaning Plan: Day 7

christmas decor garlands room
Ray Kachatorian

It's almost time to celebrate! Finish up your holiday cleaning with this checklist of day-of touch-ups.

  1. Clean trash receptacles and add fresh liners.
  2. Wipe down any dirty areas in the bathroom using household cleaner and paper towels.
  3. Wipe down bathroom mirrors and counters. Wipe down floors with a damp towel.
  4. Put toilet bowl cleaner in the toilets and brush.
  5. Hang fresh towels and put out fresh hand soap.
  6. Damp-mop the kitchen floor.
  7. Vacuum carpets and dry-mop wood floors.
  8. Fluff sofa cushions and pillows.
  9. Decorate with special touches, such as flowers or candles.
09 of 19

1-Hour Quick Holiday Cleaning Plan

Layered Christmas Garland
Werner Straube

If you typically keep your home very tidy, you might not need to start so far in advance. This quick holiday cleaning checklist only takes an hour to complete and works well for spaces that are already in pretty good shape. Gather family members to help and check off these quick to-dos for last-minute shine.

10 of 19

1-Hour Quick Holiday Cleaning Plan: Bathrooms

vintage flower paintings glass bottles tall trees bathroom decor
Adam Albright

If you only have an hour to clean before the holidays, focus on the bathroom guests are most likely to use. Quickly tidy the space by following these steps.

  1. Hang fresh hand towels, and put out new hand soap.
  2. Wipe any dirty areas in the bathrooms using household cleaner and paper towels.
  3. Put toilet bowl cleaner in the toilets and give them a quick brushing.
  4. Wipe mirrors, countertops, and bathroom floors with a damp towel.
  5. Take out the garbage, and line trash receptacles with clean liners.
11 of 19

1-Hour Quick Holiday Cleaning Plan: Entryway

Wreath Deer Trophy Black Door
Michael Garland

Use these holiday cleaning tips for the entryway to give guests a welcoming first impression.

  1. Sweep front steps, and put out a welcome mat.
  2. Clean front-door glass.
  3. Dust wood floors quickly using a dust mop.
12 of 19

1-Hour Quick Holiday Cleaning Plan: Kitchen

silver wreath hanging above stove in white kitchen
THE WILDE PROJECT

These speedy kitchen cleaning tips will have your cooking hub tidy in no time:

  1. Damp-mop the kitchen floor.
  2. Wipe down kitchen counters with household cleaner.
  3. Clean out the refrigerator, discarding leftovers or expired food. Move larger containers to the back of the refrigerator to make room for extra food or beverages.
13 of 19

1-Hour Quick Holiday Cleaning Plan: Living Room

blue and gold christmas garland and tree decor
THE WILDE PROJECT

Give your living room a once-over to ensure it looks neat and inviting.

  1. Tidy stacks of magazines and books.
  2. Straighten and fluff sofa pillows and cushions.
  3. Carry a laundry basket throughout the house, picking up clutter as you go. Once filled, put everything in its place or hide the basket.
  4. Vacuum high-traffic areas.
  5. Place fresh flowers and light scented candles.
14 of 19

Emergency Holiday Cleaning Tips

Living room with Christmas tree and white chair
Alise O'Brien

Whether it's a spilled drink or cookie crumbles, accidents happen, so be prepared for spills during the holidays. Keep these holiday cleaning tips handy to easily remove stains on carpet, tablecloths, or clothes.

15 of 19

Emergency Holiday Cleaning Guide: Spilled Wine

showstopping blooms christmas centerpiece
David Tsay

If you're serving wine at your holiday get-together, brush up on these tips for removing wine stains.

  • Red wine on carpet: Immediately pour white wine over the red wine spill (white wine neutralizes red wine). Sprinkle the area heavily with table salt and cover with a damp white towel. After the party, press with dry white cloths until they come up clean. If stain remains, use a carpet cleaner to remove it.
  • Red wine on tablecloth: Cover the red wine stain with artificial sweetener. Within 24 hours, brush off the sweetener and rinse the tablecloth in cold water. Apply distilled white vinegar on the stain if the material is cotton, a cotton blend, or permanent press. Wash as usual.
  • Red wine on clothing: Blot the spill with a clean white towel dampened with club soda, or spray the spot with the stain-removal product Wine Away ($12, The Home Depot).
  • White wine: Flush stain with cold water or club soda; blot dry.
16 of 19

Emergency Holiday Cleaning Guide: Condiment Stains

minimalist holiday table with white runner and sprigs of natural elements
Thayer Gowdy

Use these tips to combat condiment stains that might happen around the holiday dinner table.

  • Tomato-based stains, such as BBQ sauce, ketchup, or pasta sauce: Dab area with dishwashing liquid, then flush with white vinegar.
  • Mustard: Flush stain with white vinegar, then rinse with cool water.
17 of 19

Emergency Holiday Cleaning Guide: Coffee or Tea Stains

Cinnamon Coffee
Blaine Moats

If you plan to serve coffee or tea at your holiday gathering, be prepared for spills and splatters. This stain-removal method will help quickly clear up the mark. Flush stain with white vinegar, then wash with cool water.

18 of 19

Emergency Holiday Cleaning Guide: Lipstick Stains on Napkins

camp-inspired Christmas place setting with metal charger and sifter
Adam Albright

When guests depart, separate lipstick-stained napkins from others to avoid transfer of pigments. Remove excess lipstick from napkins with a dull knife. Using a dropper, apply mineral spirits ($9, The Home Depot) to the stain with a brush. Flush area with rubbing alcohol and tap again adding more mineral spirits, repeating until stain is removed. Wash napkins in an enzyme detergent.

19 of 19

Emergency Holiday Cleaning Guide: Dripped Wax on Tablecloth

Christmas centerpiece with pomegranates and candles
Jay Wilde

To clean up candle wax drippings from your holiday centerpiece, place the tablecloth in freezer for an hour. Crack wax and remove excess. Using mineral spirits, remove remaining residue by rubbing the mineral spirits into the wax. Rinse with rubbing alcohol, let dry fully, then wash with an enzyme detergent.

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