Holiday Cleaning Tips To Keep Your Sanity


Judging by this hilarious video that just went viral, I am not the only one who completely loses their cool about the cleanliness of his or her home before company arrives.  My favorite lines from this video are, “Hurry… if you haven’t made your bed, throw it away, it’s too late to make it now.  Company is coming.  Get rid of the couches, we can’t let people know we SIIIITTT!!!  The chairs need to be pushed in.  There cannot be any sign of living in this house.”

I’d be really interested in meeting the person who has never overreacted like this just minutes before the doorbell rings.  Is it actually possible to have your home pristine and company ready at all times, especially if you have kids and/or pets?  Considering the popularity of this video, I’m guessing no. But I have been making more of an effort the last couple months to keep my home a bit tidier so that I could actually enjoy these busy holiday months and not fret if someone unexpectedly pops by.  And really, who wants to be running around like a chicken with her head cut off the entire week before company arrives?

I decided to put together a list of some of my favorite cleaning tips. Hopefully you can put some of these hacks in motion, and get the work done in time to enjoy a clean and relaxing holiday.

Get Rid of the Excess- You’re really going to want to make this your first priority. If you don’t throw away or donate the items in your house that are no longer serving a purpose, you will be caught in a perpetual loop of cleaning, caring for, and moving these items.  This is a massive waste of time and energy.  Getting rid of the those things you no longer need will free up emotional and physical space.

Have Your Supplies Ready and Accessible- Whatever your favorite tools and supplies for cleaning, be sure to have them gathered and ready to use.  Who wants to waste time tracking down the glass cleaner that you left in the laundry room in the basement, when you’re ready to clean the bathroom mirror upstairs?  The best way to solve this problem is to invest in a sturdy cleaning caddy with a strong handle.  You can carry the caddy with all the supplies you will need from room to room as you are working your way through the house. Another option is to keep caddies under each sink (with childproofing locks, of course) with all the supplies needed to clean those specific rooms.

Sit Down and Watch an Episode of “Hoarding-Buried Alive.” 

I’m only half-joking on this one.  This show produces magical motivating properties.  I think it might actually be scientifically impossible to watch an episode and not feel an undeniable urge to get up and start cleaning.

 Do Another Round of Purging  Now that you’ve watched that episode of Hoarders- go ahead and do a double take on your belongings.  Chances are, your home is filled with items you no longer use.  Go through each room with especially critical eyes.  Ask yourself, “Do I still need this?  Do I even like it?  Do I have items that could serve more than one purpose?  Does any of this stuff frustrate me?  Do I have things that make me sad or that weigh me down?”  I have learned from my years as a professional house cleaner that most people have actually come to resent their “stuff.”  Most of the emotional attachments we have to things aren’t even positive.  Do you still have all those ticket stubs from the concerts you went to with your ex?  Does it really make you happy to see that box in your closet every day when you’re getting dressed?  How about old bank statements, artwork that doesn’t do anything for you, clothing that doesn’t fit or is outdated.  How about furniture?  Do you enjoy stubbing your toe every day on that love-seat that doesn’t quite fit the space you have it in?  The bottom line is…  

Start From the Top and Work Your Way Down- One of the best things I’ve learned is that you will save yourself a lot of trouble if you clean each room from the top to the bottom.  You don’t want to wipe down your furniture and baseboards, and sweep and mop your floors, only to get them dirty again when dusting the blinds and ceiling fans. 

Your Vacuum is your Very Best Cleaning Tool- I use my vacuum as my primary duster.  It’s so much easier to use the wand from my vacuum to dust because it actually traps the dirt instead of dispersing it into the air.  I also use the wand with the brush attachment to clean along my baseboards, ceiling fans, blinds, etc.  Before wiping down bathroom counters, you can use the vacuum wand to suck up hair (especially if you have a man that shaves and leaves behind all those tiny hairs) and even bits of dried toothpaste.  This little trick will save you so much time and elbow grease.  When you’re cleaning- just make it a rule to have your vacuum with you at all times.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is your Second Best Cleaning Tool- Do I really need to say more on this one?  We’ve all used them.  We all love them.

Put Things Where They Belong Right Away- I grew up in a home where we had baskets of stuff every where.  It was my mom’s way of keeping clutter at bay.  If something was out of place in the living room, she would throw it in a basket at the bottom of the stairs.  Eventually these baskets would fill up and become a huge headache to empty because the contents were so random.  Save yourself the trouble of “Clutter Baskets” or piles, or drawers, or closets…and just put the item where it belongs the first time you touch it.  If it’s trash- throw it away.  If it’s a document that needs to be filed…file it.  If it’s laundry, either launder it or hang it back up.  Everything in the home should have its own designated place.  If it doesn’t, it’s most likely crap and you can feel justified in getting rid of it.

Keep it real.  Let’s face it…nobody’s house is always clean. So relax and focus on doing what works for you and your family, and forget about how clean so and so’s house was when you went there for that Christmas party two years ago.  What really matters is how you feel each day when you walk in your own home.

Here are a few more awesome tips from some of my friends and family.

  • Wash jeans in cold water with a little vinegar (no detergent).  Hang or lay flat to dry.
  • When putting kids clothes away, roll them up into outfits.  It takes a bit longer, but it makes it so much easier to get the kids dressed in the morning (and easier for their daddy to help them).  If the kids are old enough, they can dress themselves and mom can rest easy knowing they will match.
  • Run a dryer sheet along the baseboards after you’ve cleaned them.  This will keep dust from building up on them.
  • There’s no need to dry clean a down comforter.  Just use a mild soap, and throw clean tennis balls in the dryer to keep the feathers from bunching together.  The blanket will come out fresh, fluffy, and clean.
  • To unclog a drain, pour 1/4 cup baking soda into the drain, and them pour 1/2 cup vinegar.
  • To clean a dirty microwave, place a bowl filled with vinegar and nuk it for a few minutes. The condensation will soften the debris and make it much easier to wipe down.
  • To get blood stains out of clothing, pour hydrogen peroxide on it.
  • If you have a habit of not finishing your diet cokes, pour what is left around the brim of your toilet bowl and let sit for an hour and then flush.  The corrosive acid will break down any stains.  This might also help you break your soda habit.  Yuck!
  • Empty your vacuum canister often to help with the suction.
  • Go through your closet twice a year and donate what you haven’t worn in the past six months.  Then turn all your hangers the wrong way.  When you wear something, turn the hanger the correct way.  This will allow you to see which garments you have not worn in the past six months.
  • Organize your closet into groupings of tank tops, short sleeves, 3/4 sleeves, and long sleeves.  This will help you find what you’re looking for much faster.
  • Before Christmas and Birthdays, go through your children’s toys.  If they don’t play with them or if there are missing pieces, donate or toss them.
  • Hang a magnetic board to the wall in your bathroom.  Put magnets on the back of your make-up, brushes, eye liner, etc. and hang them.  This frees up counter space and saves you time.
  • Put a shoe organizer inside your garage or closet door for hats and gloves.  It would also be a great idea to put one in the back of your car for wipes, diapers, umbrella, snacks, etc.
  • Keep a plastic cereal container in your car lined with disposable shopping bags.  When you stop at a gas station, you just toss the trash bag and line the container with a new bag.
  • Always put extra trash bags in the bottom of the trash can so when you take the trash out you have a clean bag ready to go.
  • If water minerals make the tub look funky, sprinkle a little powdered dishwasher detergent and use a scrub brush.  This will cut down on elbow grease.
  • Almost anything can be safely cleaned with baking soda, vinegar, or blue Dawn dishsoap.
  • Use newspaper to clean mirrors and windows with no streaks or fuzz left behind.
  • Teach your kids to clean!  When they’re toddlers, they want to help, but it can often be frustrating when you can do it faster yourself.  However, if you accept what they CAN do and continue to show (trying not to criticize or redo), they do get better and their help will become very beneficial.
  • Wrap Christmas presents as you get them.
  • Color code your cups or glasses for each child.  This will cut down on dishes.  This also works with towels.
  • Clean, chop, and bag your produce the day you bring them home so they are ready to eat throughout the week.
  • Rethink storage furniture.  Almost anything can be multi-functional if you are creative enough.
  • Use baby oil on stainless appliances after you clean them to leave them shiny.
  • Make your own wood polish out of olive oil and lemon juice.  Rub it on with a clean sock, and then buff with a second clean sock.
  • Throw a few ice cubes and a wrinkled shirt in the dryer for 10 minutes…ironing done.
  • Toss citrus wedges in the garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh.
  • Keep a magic eraser in the shower and use it to wipe away the soap scum every day after showering.  Bonus…Naked housework! 

I hope you all have a very healthy, happy, and clean Thanksgiving! 

Thanks for the input, Shannon Foote, Christy Parr, Amanda Malnar, Tricia Schroeder, Janette Coleman, Meghan Harrop, Melissa Smith, and Ali Griffith.

By Janet Schlosser @


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