Calling All Holiday-Cleaning Procrastinators

'Tis the season for binge cleaning. We've got your step-by-step guide to preparing your house for holiday guests.

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When it comes to the holidays, it can be overwhelming to prepare your house for all those wonderful guests and parties. From the basics to the deep-clean, here is a guide to get you through the season. And, if you're still looking for ways to put off today what could be just swept under the rug tomorrow, take a minute to find out if you clean like Mama.

Start Early & Don't Procrastinate

Walk through the house as if you were your mother-in-law walking in for the first time, and make notes of imperfections.

Declutter First

Nothing wastes more time than moving a purse, jacket, or pile of “important” mail from room to room while you clean. Start your cleaning by putting everything in its place and everything will go faster. (This is a great time for parents to challenge young children to some type of game or race.)

Walls

An oft-overlooked reality: Walls get dirty too! Especially around light fixtures, hallways, or anywhere less than three feet off the ground if you have children.

Use the Right Products

An all-purpose cleaner can be a great time saver, but its versatility comes with a cost. Porous surfaces like stone, wood, and leather should really have a dedicated product to ensure they aren’t damaged. Prolonging the life of your possessions and décor by using the right product is worth the extra minute it takes to pick up a different bottle.

Deep Clean

Don’t forget to vacuum and sweep under couches, behind the fridge and all those other places you usually forget (read: avoid)—just remember, a dog or child’s toy is bound to end up under the couch, and you don’t want to be embarrassed by cat hair tumbleweeds when you have to move or lift it. Also, spot clean the carpet to remove stains from footprints, spills, and pets.

Wash Windows

Even though your nieces and nephews are sure to leave their handprints behind, use a powerful glass cleaner to remove spots, dust, and whatever else is caked on inside and out—it makes it easier for family members to admire your beautiful holiday décor and not focus on dog nose art. If you find a few extra minutes, spray on a water repellent—it might take some extra time now, but it prevents water spots from forming later.

Dust

Dry and wet dust all the surfaces of your home, for looks and for those with allergies (you don’t want Grandma sniffling and sneezing during the whole visit).

In the Kitchen

Condition Your Cooking Surfaces

Proper surface care reduces the likelihood of stains and makes cleaning up much easier. Now is a good time to clean and seal granite since messes are bound to happen in all the chaos. Protect your investment. Condition your butcher block or cutting board so it’s ready for whatever comes its way. If your stovetop is grimy, give it a good wipe down before the chaotic holiday cooking occurs so you don’t end up with a sludge made up of who knows what.

Empty the Fridge

If you’re a condiment hoarder, vegetable drawer ignorer, or leftovers storer—today is the day to get down to the bare essentials. Throw away the expired stuff and make room for this year’s leftovers.

Wipe Down All Kitchen Appliances

Nobody likes dirty fingerprints staring at them while they go for seconds from the fridge. You can achieve streak-free stainless steel without a dedicated product by wiping once with the grain and then flipping your cloth or towel to the dry side and repeating your pass.

In the Living Room

Spot Clean the Carpet

Check for any stains that might stand out in your well-lit room. Beware of your light colored carpet though. If it is deeply soiled a spot-clean will leave a reverse stain: a big clean spot in a sea of dingy carpet. If this is the case it might be best to get the whole thing cleaned ahead of time.

Fluff Pillows

To create a fresh and inviting space, fluffed pillows and cushions are a must.

Hide the Remote

Aunt Sue may talk a lot, but some of her stories are admittedly pretty great and worthy of a listen. After all, the holidays are about spending time with family.

In the Bathroom

Clean the Shower Door

The same water repellent you used to keep your windows looking nicer longer can be used on you shower door to reduce buildup of soap scum and other residue.

Shine Up the Mirrors

No one wants to see your toothpaste splatter when they’re trying to fix their hair, so use some glass cleaner for a streak free reflection.

In the Bedrooms

Set the Bed

With fresh sheets and pillows, a bed in the guest room trully makes your guests feel welcome. You'll then be thinking of ways to get them to leave.

Organize

For an extra touch, make sure your guests have water, magazines, and fresh towels within reach.