Holiday Cleaning Hacks
Baking dozens of cookies and buying everyone gifts is the fun part, but with every Christmas season, especially when you’re hosting a party or housing guests, there are a bunch of cleaning tasks to tackle too, from handling detritus in the kitchen to picking up pine needles in the living room. Searching for quick and easy solutions for de-griming all those parts of the house? Look no further than these five genius suggestions from Real Simple editors and experts to make those holiday chores more manageable (and keep you from acting like the Grinch). You’ll find it all right here: the most clever tricks for prepping the house for your guests’ arrival, keeping it tidy while they are around, and cleaning up after all of the festivities have ended. There are solutions for preventing wasted time in the kitchen, ideas for speeding up the dining room set up, and answers for how to tackle the mess left in the holiday season’s wake (so daunting!). By making just a few small adjustments to your normal holiday routine, you can save yourself a ton of time to actually enjoy the merriment and festivities without having to think about the impending cleanup. Find the pros’ top picks for the sanity savers they use in their own lives to help manage the mess—from a collapsible storage bin for quick cleanups to a baking set that transfers easily from freezer to oven. Give yourself a break and incorporate these hacks before the holiday rush.
Set Up in Advance
Start by setting the table a day or so early. Use a bar cart to transport all of your dishes into the dining room and leave it there for quick removal of dirty dishes post-meal (just one trip each way!). While the utensils are out of the drawer, take that time to clean inside where crumbs have collected. Put the utensil caddy in the top rack of the dishwasher (or wipe it down with a rag dipped in warm, soapy water), then use a lint roller to pick up crumbs. To access crumbs in the corner of the drawer, tear off a piece of the sticky paper and wrap it around a butter knife.
Do a Quick Clean-up Before Guests Arrive
Before your holiday guests knock on the front door, take a few steps to save your sanity later. First, line the kitchen trashcan with multiple bags so when you take out a full load, another fresh bag is already in place. And if you plan to use your bedroom for coat and bag storage, spread a sheet over the duvet and pillows to keep them protected. If there are still stray items littering the living room, but no time to put them in their proper places, take a lap with a collapsible bin in which you can stash the clutter temporarily. But, the key is to stick a note on the side with a deadline for when you’ll clear it out and put things in their right place.
Keep the Right Kitchen Tools at Hand
One of the biggest changes you can make to create a spotless looking kitchen is to replace the sponge—plus, your old one may gross out any potential dish helpers. (And you can take all the help you can get!) Also, invest in cookware that cuts down on cleanup. HEX’s dish set does triple duty: bake, serve, and freeze. Made of ceramic-coated aluminum, they’re durable and long lasting. (To buy: HEX three-piece baking-dish set, $260, finell.co.) Or consider food storage containers with the same capability to make reheating leftovers a one-dish mess. (RS staffer favorite is the OXO 30 Piece SNAP container set, $100, oxo.com.)
Prep Before You Decorate the Tree
As you set up the tree, don’t forget the oldie, but goodie trick of placing a tree bag beneath your Frasier Fir (or evergreen of your choice) to make future cleanup easier. Keep it covered with the tree skirt and no one will be the wiser (until disposal day comes around!). Keep the tree well-watered (it needs about a gallon a day) to keep it healthy and to prevent more needles from falling. Once you’ve got it all set up, if those vintage ornaments seem a little dull, revive their shine by applying a coat of clear or glittery nail polish. Voila—shiny as new!
Try This Christmas Tree Cleaning Trick
Once the holiday hubbub winds down, it is time to deal with all of the evergreen needles littering the floor. Rather than reaching for the vacuum (which can be clogged by needles), corral the debris on rugs and floors with a rubber broom (like the Pet Buddies FurStatic Pet Hair Broom, $28, amazon.com). Pine needles are less likely to stick in the bristles, says Marie Stegner, a consumer health advocate for Maid Brigade, a national housecleaning service. Bonus: If you’ve got a pet that sheds, this tool will come in handy year round when removing fur from upholstery and rugs.