The Ultimate Thanksgiving Cleaning Checklist

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It’s that time of year again where we’re pulling out our turkeys, dusting off our menorahs, and hanging some pretty lights. Whatever holiday you celebrate, Clean My Space has you covered with holiday cleaning tips all season long. 

Today I’m tackling Thanksgiving cleaning so you can be prepared for this weekend. I already have a whole article on general holiday cleaning, so be sure to check that out as well. But here is your ultimate cleaning checklist for before and after Thanksgiving dinner. Plus some cleaning dos and don’ts to help you through the weekend. 

Cleaning Tips Before Thanksgiving

You’re writing your grocery list, looking up recipes, and setting up seating arrangements. But before you run to the grocery store, there are some key areas you should clean. Clean first, so you don’t have to rearrange seating or decorations after you’ve set them up. 

Vacuum Floors and Seating Areas

You want your guests to walk into a clean house, so run your vacuum the morning before dinner. If you don’t have time to do the whole house, you can cheat and just do the main floor if it’s unlikely people will be going upstairs. Use the fabric attachment for your vacuum on chairs and sofas to tackle crumbs and pet hair. 

Mop The Floors

If your floors are a little dirty and you have 15 people traipsing all over your house, that dirt is going to get spread everywhere. This will make the next day’s cleaning much more time-consuming, and no one wants to eat dinner on a dirty floor. So mop thoroughly before your guests arrive. 

Deep Clean the Fridge and Oven

Your fridge and oven will be getting a lot of use over the holidays. Stinky odors in your fridge or grease stains in your oven can actually affect new foods you’re storing or cooking. Plus, you’ll probably need a lot of space in your fridge. So clear out those wrinkled apples no one is ever going to eat to make space for your Thanksgiving feast and scrub that oil spill that’s been hanging out in your oven for two months. 

Melissa cleaning the fridge

Tidy Your Guest Bedroom and Wash Your Linens

If you have any guests staying the night or the weekend, be sure to tidy the guest bedroom. Even if no one has used the bed in a while, wash the sheets, pillowcases, and duvet cover to avoid that musty smell and feel. 

Dust Shelve and Bookcases

Assuming you dust regularly, pay extra attention to surfaces that don’t get touched very often. This means bookcases, shelves, windowsills, baseboards, and ceiling fans. If you don’t dust regularly, check out my article on 10 Handy Dusting Tips

DON’T Wash Your Turkey

I don’t usually write about what you shouldn’t clean, but I want to chime in on the should you wash your turkey debate. The answer is a resounding no. 78% of people polled on this reported that they rinse their turkey before cooking. However, the CDC advises not to wash or rinse your turkey. When you do, you spread germs over your kitchen, sink, utensils, etc. that can make you seriously sick. Cooking your turkey correctly and using a meat thermometer to check that it’s cooked all the way through will eliminate any dangerous bacteria without needing to wash your bird. 

Cleaning Tips After Thanksgiving

You’re full of turkey and cranberry sauce and maybe eggnog or something a little stronger. The last thing on your mind is cleaning! But if you head upstairs and fall asleep, you’re going to have a huge mess on your hands in the morning. 

Here are my tips for a quick thanksgiving clean-up the night after to help mitigate the amount of work you’ll have to do the next day. 

Run the Dishwasher

The first thing you want to do when your guests are out the door (or even sooner) is fill and run the dishwasher. If you let your dishes sit overnight, food will cake onto them, making them much harder to clean. Plus, you’ll probably have to do more than one round of dishes, so get this started as soon as possible. 

Toss the Trash

Grab a trash bag and get moving. There are probably a lot of paper napkins and plates, aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and more that you can quickly get rid of. Once you do this, your whole kitchen and dining room will feel a lot cleaner. And don’t forget to recycle!

Start the Laundry 

Whether you used paper or cloth napkins, you probably have some laundry from your Thanksgiving dinner. I’m thinking tea towels, aprons, and maybe those pants that you spilled gravy on. Whatever it is, sort your laundry and start a load that you can chuck in the dryer when it’s finished. 

Melissa doing laundry

Pack Away Leftovers

Make sure you have lots of Tupperware handy before your meal. This way, you can give out leftover food for everyone to take home or pack it all away neatly for yourself. Having a game plan for leftovers before dinner will help you clean up quickly. 

Wipe Around the Stove

Before you say, “Melissa, you just made me deep clean my whole stove 8 hours ago,” let me explain. You definitely don’t need to clean your oven again, but wiping down the stove and the wall and counter around the stove will get rid of any food spray and backsplash before it has the chance to dry and stain. 

Melissa wiping the wall

Do A Quick Sweep

I promise you, even though you won’t want to sweep after your guests leave, it’s a good idea. There are going to be crumbs and some food on your floor after Thanksgiving dinner. If you and your family walk around on those crumbs, they’ll get tracked around the house and embedded into the carpet. So to avoid creating more mess, do a quick sweep. 

Thanksgiving Cleaning Checklist

It might seem like I just gave you a huge checklist, but most of these tasks can be done quickly and will save you time in the long run. Chad and I always tag-team our holiday cleaning so that we can get it over with as fast as possible. 

I recommend getting the whole family involved in the process and assigning everyone a task. This way, everyone participates, and the whole before and after checklist gets finished a lot faster. 

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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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