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10 Things to Clean Before the Holidays

Alaina Sullivan
Dec. 3, 2013

Concentrate your effort on a few key areas for maximum impact when your guests arrive.

The holidays are upon us, and that means parties, overnight guests and loads of entertaining. Is your home ready for company? Before you get too overwhelmed with your “to-do” list, concentrate on these areas:

  1. Guest Bedroom
    You want your guests to feel like they are in a home-away-from-home, and that starts with where they lay their head. Make sure the guest bed is ready with fresh sheets.

    “If you haven't had company since last holiday season, there could be a lot of dust built into the sheets, pillow cases and comforter,” says Robin Wilson, a healthy space interior designer. The same goes for the pillows. If the pillows are more than three years old, get new ones.

  2. Clutter
    Laura McHolm, an organization and storage expert and the co-founder of NorthStar Moving suggests getting rid of stacks of clutter, like old papers and magazines. Recycle them or pack them away. “No one wants to look at your sky-high pile of 1980's New York Times when sipping eggnog,” she says.

    Clear your counters, table tops and floor of excess clutter. “Throw papers or other items covering tables or counter tops into a box or basket and place it out of sight,” said Molly Antos Morey from The Maids. “Don’t worry about saving items in their proper place until after the visitors have departed.”

  3. Toys
    If you have a house full of children, make sure the living room and guest bedrooms are clear of toys. “Nobody wants to climb over toys and clothes on the floor. Purchase bed risers for under-the-bed storage,” McHolm says. “You can store shoes, laundry baskets, books and any bulky items that might otherwise clutter the kids' room.”

  4. Closets
    Your guests are going to need somewhere to put their clothing, coats and luggage. “Pick one closet per weekend in November, and empty everything out of the closet onto the floor,” says McHolm. “I mean everything. Create four piles: keep, give away, throw away and store. If you can’t remember the last time you used something, get rid of it!”

  5. Bathrooms
    “Wipe down the sink, and if there’s time, clean the toilet. Clean mirrored surfaces if they need it. Remove any unnecessary items from the room and place new towels on the racks and replenish the toilet paper and hand soap,” Morey suggests.

  6. Kitchen
    Guests tend to congregate in the kitchen, so make sure the room is de-cluttered and stocked with clean dishes, glasses and utensils. “Wipe down the countertops and the kitchen table with a lemon/water mixture,” Morey says. “The lemon not only has disinfectant properties, but adds a fresh smell to the room.”

  7. Dust
    This is a great chore for children, as it's relatively quick and effortless. Morey recommends using a microfiber cloth to grab dust from visible surfaces. Once surfaces are dusted, sweep and vacuum the rooms to get any remaining dust bunnies.

  8. Coffeemaker
    To make sure you're serving the freshest coffee, clean out the coffeemaker ahead of time. Run vinegar through the coffeemaker with one brew cycle, followed by two water cycles, and your coffeemaker will be decalcified and ready to brew fresh coffee.

  9. Refrigerator
    Your refrigerator will be seeing a lot of action the next few weeks. You never know who will be peering inside and you need to make room for all of the food you'll be storing for parties and events. Go through your shelves and toss out any items that are expired or of questionable age. Wash off the shelves, drawers and doors and take the time to dust and vacuum the condenser coil.

  10. Your Entryway
    Your front door will get a lot of attention this time of year, with people visiting. It's the first thing they see, so pay attention to the small details. Banish shoes to family members' rooms, get rid of leftover mail, sweep the front steps, rake leave from the front lawn and, as a final touch, hang a festive wreath on your door to welcome guests.

A little effort can go a long way toward ensuring you -- and your guests -- enjoy your holiday get togethers.

Alaina Sullivan is a freelance writer in Indiana.

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