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How to Clean up
the Holiday Cooking Mess

December 5, 2018

One of the best things about the holidays is the food. Who doesn’t get nostalgic about roast turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, freshly-baked rolls and tins and tins of homemade Christmas candy? (If you’re drooling, rest assured we are too!) But in the 11 months between holidays, many of us forget how much work all that cooking and cleaning takes to put out such a spread.

Holiday Cooking And Cleaning

You’ve cooked up a storm, and your kitchen aftermath is proof with dishes piled and garbage overflowing. Instead of playing games or getting cozy on the couch to watch a holiday movie, you get to clean up after cooking. What you need is a recipe for a clean, functional holiday kitchen that works with you, not against you. Lucky for you, we have one.


  • All Purpose Cleaner
  • Dish Soap
  • Dishwasher Soap
  • Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
  • Trash Bags
  • Clean Hand Towels (many)
  • Clean Dish Cloths
  • Gumption (more than a dash)
  • Patience (bucket-full)

Just mix a little cooking prep, some “clean as you go” mindset, a dash of post-meal cleanup, and all the ingredients above for one of this holiday’s best recipes.

Holiday Recipe for a Great Cooking and Cleaning Headstart

Start by decluttering your countertops. Now is the perfect time to move knickknacks and other items that will just be in your way as you cook. Find them a new home or throw them in a closet or drawer until the holidays are over. Now that your countertops are clear, give them a good scrub. A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser tackles any old scuffs and stains.

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Next, go through your bakeware and cookware and take inventory. You want to make sure you have the roasting pans, casserole dishes, and pots you’ll need for all your holiday dishes. Do the same for serving platters, silverware, and other necessities. For holiday-specific items like tablecloths, placemats, and runners, you’ll want to make sure they are clean and free from stains.

If you want to do less cleaning after cooking, you need a strategy so you can wrap up the kitchen chores and get back to the holiday festivities. Keep a wicker basket near the dining room table for placemats, tablecloths, and runners. Have plenty of clean utensils and dishware set out and ready to go so you don’t have to run the dishwasher before setting the table. Purge your refrigerator and freezer to make room for turkey, casseroles, and other leftovers.

Make as many dishes as possible ahead of time. You’d be surprised at how many recipes have suggestions for making ahead or freezing. Bake casseroles in their serving dishes and keep mashed potatoes warm in a crockpot. A turkey can be roasted, carved and sliced ahead of time and kept in a roaster or chafing dish with some pan juices. Preparing the meal ahead of time means you won’t have the evidence piled in your sink when your guests arrive.

How to Keep the Kitchen Clean While Cooking

Big messes can’t sabotage you if they never grow! Clean as you cook. After you prep all your ingredients, put remaining ingredients back where they belong. Go ahead and take time to load the dishwasher or wash prep bowls and cutting boards by hand. Keep about four to five inches of hot, soapy water in your sink and every time you dirty a bowl, wash it up before moving on. Enlist a helper to dry and put away if you get on a culinary roll! Washing dishes as you go means you have clutter-free counters and less work to do after your holiday meal.

Keep clean kitchen cloths and an all-purpose cleaning solution handy to catch spills early and prevent cross-contamination. Have a broom and dustpan handy to keep the kitchen floor clean. Wipe down appliance handles and exteriors, counters, and other areas as you cook and you’ll spend even less time cleaning after cooking.

Clean Up After Cooking

Since you’ve been cooking and cleaning as you go, it’s easy to do a kitchen clean-up every night. To prevent a big mess in the kitchen after meals, ask everyone to bring a serving dish from the table instead of their own dishes and utensils. This gives you the time (and room) to sort serving dishes and utensils, put away leftovers, and load your dirtiest dishes in the dishwasher. Once the food is stored away, you have room to tackle the rest of the dishes. Before you tuck in for a long winter’s night, wipe down all the countertops, load and run the dishwasher, take out the trash, and put out a clean hand towel. There’s nothing quite like waking up to a clean, fresh smelling, sparkling kitchen.

If you have any unopened food, consider donating it to a nonprofit organization like your local food bank. Most food banks are grateful for any help they can get from the community, especially during the holidays. For leftovers from your holiday meals, consider sharing them with those in need at a local shelter or soup kitchen. When we realize how fortunate many of us are, giving to others can make the holidays even more special.

Make This Recipe a Holiday Tradition

Keep this recipe and follow it for cooking and cleaning during the holidays. Whether you do it yourself or save time with our holiday cleaning service, The Maids wants to help you enjoy the holidays with a beautifully clean home. Find out how affordable holiday maid service can be when you get your free estimate today.

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