Five Cleaning Tasks Your Holiday Guests Will Only Notice if You Don't Do

Fill in the blank: When a guest steps into your home, they ask, “What’s that _____________ smell?”

A. Delicious
B. Clean
C. Musty
D. No adjective, just an uncomfortable pause.

If you are hosting guests this holiday season, no doubt your cleaning efforts have redoubled. And we’re sure it’s no comfort to know that no matter how clean and organized your home, guests have an uncanny knack for opening spaces you’d rather stay closed. Like the refrigerator. Or that closet.

While you can distract them with wine or diminish with low lighting, the truth of the matter is visitors expect to stay in a lived-in house. Certain things, however, tend to grab unwanted attention. Here’s how you hit the biggest offenders.

  • Dust the baseboards. Run a microfiber cloth or duster around all the baseboards in your home. If you haven’t done this in a while, use a damp cloth because wet attracts more dust than dry. This task, while a pain in the pumpkin, is very satisfying.
  • Clear out the cobwebs and dust the walls. The Halloween excuse worked for a while, but now it’s time to own up. A wet microfiber cloth (with an extendable wand for hard-to-reach places) should do the trick. If there are any tough spots, rub them gently with a soft-bristled brush before wiping down.
  • Deodorize drains. Pour a half-cup of baking soda down the drain, and then chase it with a half-cup of vinegar. Let it fizz for few moments, then flush with boiling water.
  • Sanitize refrigerator and freezer. Remove all the items from your freezer, getting rid of anything that’s expired or freezer-burned, and turn off the unit (defrost if necessary). Then clean with a small amount of a mild detergent, dish soap or vinegar. For the fridge, empty completely and toss old food (check expiration dates on condiments). Take out any bins or shelving and wash separately, then wipe down the walls, inside the door and fixed shelves. Before replacing food, vacuum and clean refrigerator coils, which become clogged over time. Special note: Make your chocolate, beer, and wine easy to find and your guests won’t have a need to look around.
  • Wipe drawers, cupboards and the medicine cabinet Remove every item and wipe down, inside and out, with warm, soapy water. Also, remove outdated, expired or unused medication and dispose of them properly. If you know you’ll have some snoopers, place some fun items on the shelves or a note that congratulates them on their investigative work.


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