Planning to host the holidays means opening up your home to lots of food, fun, and guests exploring every nook and cranny. Is your place up for the challenge? I know mine isn't! Let's talk about some of those forgotten spaces that may not get your full cleaning attention year-round, and how to prepare for the holidays NOW so you don't need to stress the morning of your get-together.

holiday cleaning

Ceilings, Baseboards, & Light Fixtures

Guests tend to look where we don't and see our house with fresh eyes, so this is the time to do that heavy-duty dusting and cobweb removal. You can use a few different tools to get this job done: a vacuum with a wand and dusting brush attachment, a microfiber cloth, or a flat head mop with a microfiber pad. What I like about this task is you don't need to reach or bend too much; the tools do the work for you! Use this method for both baseboards and ceilings.

For light fixtures—ensure the light is OFF—use a sturdy ladder to get yourself up there, and use one hand to support the fixture while you wipe it clean with the other. You may want to use a duster to scooch into those hard-to-reach areas or a dry microfiber cloth to pick up dust. Just be prepared to vacuum underneath afterward!

hand cleaning a counter with a grey kitchen cloth

The Guest Room

If you plan to host guests overnight, they'll likely be in the room you might otherwise use for crafts, storage, a home office, or anything in between. This is a special time of year when I'll give you permission to stuff things into a closet to make the space welcoming! Ensure the bed and furniture are accessible and clean so your guests feel comfortable in their temporary space. Vacuum well, wash linens and bedding, leave out fresh towels, and make sure there's somewhere for them to keep their clothing and toiletries.

While no one expects a 5-star hotel stay, making guests feel welcome and comfortable, even if squeezing into your spare room, will make a big difference.

Dusty Dining Room

Since your guests will likely be dining here, this occasional space will require some TLC. Pay special attention to cleaning upholstered chairs using a spot-remover or a spot-cleaning extraction machine. Check your tablecloths, cloth napkins, and runners for stains ahead of time and spot-treat them by spraying a product on them, allowing it to sit, and then laundering them. Repeat until the stain is gone, or consider taking these to a dry cleaner if the stain won't come out. Clean and wrinkle-free table linens will take your setup to the next level!

Have a look at your glasses, dinner plates, and serving pieces, and give them a dust-off. You'll want to either hand wash these with gentle dish soap and water or dust them with a damp microfiber cloth. For glassware, I use a flat-weave microfiber cloth and polish the glasses until they sparkle.

The Guest Bathroom

Everyone will need to use the bathroom at some point, and if you have multiple ones to choose from, you get to control that narrative—meaning guests don't need access to every bathroom if you don't want them to! So make sure the bathroom they'll be using is in good shape. Here are some areas to consider that go above and beyond your regular bathroom cleaning:

Use a calcium, lime, and rust removal product to remove staining and discoloration from your toilet bowl. A wet pumice stone or stick will also work well for this.

The hand soap pump might be gunked up, so that would be a good thing to clean and refill. You can use a toothpick to get any sticky soap residue broken up, soak it in a bowl of warm water, then scrub with a cleaning toothbrush before replacing it.

Look at the area around the toilet, specifically the wall and floor surrounding it. This is 'the splash zone' and almost always needs a good clean. Consider using a powerful cleaner (like CLR Bathroom or Krud Kutter) for floor tile, allowing the product to sit before wiping away. Always make sure to follow the instruction labels carefully. For painted areas, test these products first, but generally, a mixture of equal parts water, dish soap, and white vinegar will get the job done. Spray, allow to sit, and wipe clean. Note that I use paper towels to wipe in these areas, not microfiber cloths!

And remember, make sure you have plenty of clean hand towels, an easy-to-find garbage can, and, of course, a plunger and toilet bowl brush for your guests' comfort and safety.

Shining Up Serving Pieces & Silver

A gentle polish can be the way to go if you're rolling out your fanciest silverware and platters for the holidays. I use a polishing cloth and a tube of polishing paste. This requires a bit of time and effort but works very well. The key to getting your items looking brand new again is to keep the polish moving and wipe until the stains are gone. If you have small items that need to be cleaned, you can also make a 'silverware bath' and soak the items to remove tarnish. Lay aluminum foil at the bottom of a basin, shake a couple of tablespoons of salt on the foil, add your silver pieces, pour in boiling water, and watch the magic happen. After the pieces have had a few moments to soak, remove them carefully and polish them with a flat-weave microfiber cloth to prevent scratching.
December 14, 2023