5 Holiday Cleaning Cheats You Can Do TODAY!

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melissa and chad with Christmas tree

I know many of you are hosting parties, dinners, and overnight guests this holiday season, and there’s a ton of planning and preparation involved. Since this can be a rather overwhelming time, I thought I’d arm you with some killer plan-ahead cleaning tasks and strategies so that as party time approaches, you’ve got some really important things already done. trust me, your future self will thank you. So, let’s strike 5 things off your holiday to-do list, right now!

Bathroom Routine

I think it’s fair to say that if you’re having guests over, at some point they’re probably going to want to use the bathroom. It makes sense that your bathrooms are a must-clean area before anyone shows up on your doorstep.

Now, I totally hear you—cleaning the bathroom is not your idea of holiday spirit. So, here’s what you can do to keep it simple and manageable. First, 1 to 2 weeks before things get crazy, create your baseline. Give your bathroom a good cleaning, this should include cleaning the tub and shower, baseboards and floors, sink, counter, and mirror. And of course, give the toilet a serious clean. Then, you’ll spend the next 2 weeks in maintenance mode.

Here’s your bathroom maintenance routine:

  • Keep a general purpose microfiber cloth, paper towel and an all-purpose cleaner in each bathroom to perform quick cleanings with minimal waste.
  • Every few days, wipe the counters, sink, and faucet with the microfiber cloth and the all-purpose cleaner. You can do this quickly before you go to bed each night. Simply hang the microfiber cloth to dry, you can wash and replace it with a clean cloth once a week.
  • Every 3 or 4 days give the toilet a quick spray down and wipe clean with a paper towel.
  • Start to declutter your personal effects now by placing any non-essential bathroom items into a basket. This will save you from that last minute panic of hiding all of your bathroom goodies.

On the day of the party:

  • Take that basket of personal items and hide it somewhere while people are over.
  • Use the microfiber cloth to give the counter, sink and mirror a quick wipe and finish-up by shining the faucet—a shiny faucet has a big impact.
  • Empty the garbage can.
  • Give the toilet a quick scrub, 30 seconds max (your maintenance routine should make this minimal.
  • Refresh your supplies. Make sure you have extra toilet paper, a clean plunger, topped up hand soap, and freshly laundered hand towels.
  • If you feeling like going that extra mile, get yourself an essential oil reed diffuser to give the space a pleasant scent. These are safer than candles and tend to smell better than other artificial air fresheners.

The 3 Mat System

For those of us who have to deal with the woes of winter (snow, ice, sand, and salt) here is a helpful system to keep your entryway under control. We have a strict shoes-off policy in our house and actually tent to travel with an extra pair of shoes specifcally for indoor purposes.

Here’s what to do:

  • Start with a heavy duty doormat just outside of your door which will hopefully encourage your guests to stomp off the majority of the brick-a-brack on their boots OUTSIDE. This should be tough, rugged and bristly.
  • Next, place another doormat on the inside of your door to protect your floor from anything that wasn’t stomped off outside. This mat absorbs dirt and moisture and keeps the mess contained to a very small area. We recently purchased a large one which really helps when we have a few people coming in at once and taking off their wet shoes and boots.
  • Finally, get yourself a good, deep dish boot tray, which will easily contain any boot gravy. Yes, boot gravy: salty, dirty drippings from your boots that no one has time for.

Guest Room Preparation

If you’re planning on having some of your guests stay overnight you’re going to want to ensure that your guest accommodations are actually… accommodating! So, here are a few tips to help you step up your home’s guest experience. This can easily be done a couple weeks in advance.

  • Try to make the room as clutter-free as possible—perhaps you love your collection of baseball cards and sexy leg lamps, but your guests might not. As we did with the personal items in the bathroom, we’re going to put any clutter that’s lying around in a box or a basket and tuck it away in a closet until guests leave.
  • Wash the bedding! No one likes the thought of sleeping in a bed made up with dirty linens, so make time to give everything a good washing beforehand.
  • Here’s a really nice touch: leave out some fresh towels for your guests. You can really knock their socks off by also leaving out some basic toiletries to use… you know, the ones you steal from hotels when you’re on vacation.

Only Clean What A Guest Sees

As party time approaches, there’s that terror that sets in, that sense that you have to clean every nook and cranny in your home. To avoid getting caught up, just remember to only clean what a guest will see. No one will be rummaging through your drawers, so there’s no need to spend time cleaning those drawers. When you go to someone’s house, what do you see? Exactly. So, that’s where we’ll focus our efforts.

This mainly includes baseboards, floors, the front hall closet, mirrors, windows, eye level stains and dirt. Detailed cleans can be saved for another time. Any spots in your home you don’t want guests to go just shut the door. People respect the shut door.

Sparkling Service Pieces

My mom would pull out serving dishes and company cutlery and dishes well in advance of the party and put my sister and me to work.

  • First job was for us to shine up cutlery and service pieces. To do this, add boiling water to a casserole dish and fill it halfway, then add a cup of vinegar. Dump in the cutlery, wait 10 minutes and wipe to a shiny clean using a dry microfibre cloth.
  • Next, polish up plates and serving dishes. For any plates that have those little annoying black marks on them, you can use cream of tartar to quickly scrub the marks away. I made a video about this a long time ago and this trick still amazes me to this day—just shake cream of tartar on your plate, add a few drops of water (just enough to make a paste) and use your fingers to scrub the marks away. It’s that simple!
  • Finally, shine up glassware. To do this simply boil a kettle and quickly hold the glass up to the steam and wipe the glass clean with a flat-weave microfiber cloth. This gets rid of schmutz and lipstick stains. This is high impact people, high impact!

Hopefully, this helps you get ready for the holidays, and whatever you celebrate and whatever your plans are, I wish you the very best!!!

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

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