Quick House Cleaning and Preparation Time-Savers for the Holidays

If you think wiping down countertops, spraying some air freshener in the bathroom and a quick vacuum makes your home ready for holiday guests, you’d better think again. No one is saying you have to pull a full-on seasonal cleaning, but by focusing on critical areas with a quick once-over, you can make your house clean and inviting. Not only will these quick house cleaning tips get your home clean and fresh, but they will also ensure that all of your holiday ‘tools,’ like the oven, vacuum and dishwasher are ready for holiday action.

Quick House Cleaning Preparation: Tool Time!

Giving your holiday tools a quick once-over is a great time-saver during the busy holidays and will make sure there are no surprises while you cook up some holiday goodness or get started with the house cleaning. Appliances get a real workout during the holidays, so your kitchen appliances have to be clean and ready for action and so do the tools you’ll be using for cleaning throughout the holidays.


From cooking prep to leftovers, the microwave probably gets more action than any other appliance. With a little pre-holiday cleaning, your microwave will be ready to go. Start by removing the rotating plate and the roller beneath it and give them a good scrub or a run through the dishwasher. Wipe down the exterior and interior and make sure any vents are free of dust and grease.

Microwave Cleaning Pro Tip: Pour undiluted vinegar into an empty spray bottle and spray generously on the greasy surfaces. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then wipe clean with a dishcloth or non-abrasive scrubber.


If you’re like most of us, you’re going to have to do a deep-clean on that oven after the holidays anyway, so there’s no need to go all out with the holidays approaching. Give the outside a good cleaning and put down foil on the bottom of the oven. The foil will not only cover up that hard to remove build-up on the bottom giving the illusion of a cleaner oven, but it will also prevent further build-up that can make that post-holiday cleaning even harder.

Oven Cleaning Pro Tip: For ovens that don’t have a self-cleaning feature, a paste made of vinegar and baking soda works great if you apply it to the oven and let it sit overnight. The next day, just wipe up the paste and you’re done.


For smooth-top ranges, that same mixture of vinegar and baking soda you used on the oven is excellent for a quick clean. Just mix it up, pour it on, let it sit for a few minutes and wipe off with a cloth or scrubber recommended for smooth-tops. For traditional coil-top ranges, you can remove the rings and let them soak in the sink with a mixture of water, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda while you move on to the next cleaning task. With a good soak, the rings should be fairly easy to clean with a scrub pad. Since we are trying to be quick here, you can skip those notoriously hard to clean drip pans and just cover them with some of those cheap drip pan covers.


That refrigerator is going to go through a rigorous work out just like the microwave. From preparing meals before guests arrive to enjoying all those leftovers for days, your refrigerator is going to be opened and closed a lot throughout the holidays. Let’s make sure it’s ready for duty. A quick tightening of any loose door hinges or handle screws will ensure that the refrigerator is prepared for the physical demands of all that opening and closing.

Wipe up any light spills or stains inside and give the outside a wipe-down. This is also a good time to get rid of any out-of-date foods and combine or rearrange food and beverages to make as much room as possible for all that extra holiday fare. Freeing up as much space as possible also lets your refrigerator cool more efficiently, especially important with the added load of that door opening and closing so frequently.


Most of us don’t worry too much about deep-cleaning our coffee makers very often, but the holiday season usually means plenty of coffee. You don’t want to pour that fresh cup of coffee from a dirty pot, and you certainly don’t want to brew up stale tasting coffee, so here’s a quick way to do a deep-clean. Clean the outside with a damp cloth and use a little all-purpose cleaner for any build-up.

Pour in a pot of half water and half white vinegar and brew it without any filter. This vinegar and water mixture will remove lime scale and build-up inside the coffee maker. When it’s finished brewing, pour the contents of the pot back into the coffee maker and run it again. Put the coffee pot in the dishwasher, and when you’re all done, you have a fresh, clean coffee maker and a clean coffee pot.


Throughout the holidays, you are going to be washing a lot of dishes. Make sure your dishwasher is up to the task with this easy cleaning routine. Check the strainer area in the bottom of the wash tub under the spray arm. Remove food debris and wipe off any residue. Wipe residue and debris from the gasket door and wipe down the exterior. Next, starting with an empty dishwasher, pour one cup of baking soda around the bottom and run the shortest hot water cycle. The baking soda will help with any stains and leave your dishwasher smelling fresh and odor-free.

Pro Tip For Sparkling Dishes: While you’re in there, go ahead and refill the rinse agent for your next load of dishes.

Garbage Disposal

Another often ignored appliance when it comes to cleaning is your garbage disposal. If you think about all the things that get shoved down into that disposal, it’s a wonder that it doesn’t give off more unpleasant odors than it does. To freshen up this hardworking food gobbler, chop up a lemon and drop it in rind and all.

As the garbage disposal grinds it up, the natural cleaning power of lemons will give your disposal that much-needed cleaning and leave a fresh, lemony scent. Now that your garbage disposal is clean and smelling fresh, throw some ice cubes into the disposal. As the disposal runs, all that ice will help sharpen the blades so they will be ready for a holiday workout.

Vacuum Cleaner

A clean vacuum cleaner not only performs better, but it also helps eliminate much of that stale or musty odor that can often fill the air when you use it. For canister vacuums, remove the canister and rinse it out. Take out any filters and give them a quick wash too. Make sure everything is nice and dry before putting it back together. Before you lock that canister back in place, put in a teaspoon of baking soda to help eliminate odors until the next cleaning.

For vacuums that use bags, clean and dry any filters and make sure you start with a new bag. Just like the canister vacuum, put in a teaspoon of baking soda for continuous odor control. It doesn’t hurt to wipe down the exterior of your vacuum, too, because they typically sit around between vacuums collecting dust.

Quick House Cleaning Checklist

Now that you know all of your cooking and cleaning appliances are clean and in good working order, it’s time to run through some quick house cleaning chores to get your house looking good. Start your clean-up with filling the air with the scents and sounds of the holiday season that you would typically reserve for your guests. Getting into the holiday spirit with a little music and pleasant aromas will make those preparation and cleaning tasks a little more enjoyable.


You’re going to have to do laundry whether it’s the holidays or not. So go ahead and get all that laundry washed, folded and put away as close to the time your first guests will arrive as possible. You’ll have a nice and neat laundry room, your guests will have clean towels and linens, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.


Sweep, mop and wipe everything down. Your appliances are already clean, so this should be a quick and easy clean-up for getting your kitchen looking and smelling fresh.

Kitchen Cleaning Pro Tip: Go ahead and wipe down those switch plates, switches and outlets for a nice finishing touch. They get so dirty and are seldom cleaned, plus you’ll get the benefit of decreasing the spread of germs.


Pre-treat the tub or shower for a few minutes with a cleaner that gets things clean without scrubbing. While you are waiting for the tub cleaner to do its job, sweep, mop, wipe down the sink area and clean the mirrors. Hang some clean, freshly washed towels and hand towels, put out a fresh bottle of hand soap and of course, make sure there’s an ample supply of toilet paper.


Grab a laundry basket and do a walk through across the entire house. Pick up any clutter like books, toys and other things laying around and put them in the basket. This walkthrough is also a good way to spot any obvious areas that need a little extra cleaning attention. Now, take that basket and put everything out of the way where it belongs.

Decluttering Pro Tip: Bring along some multi-purpose cleaner to spot clean any of those dirty areas you find on your walkthrough and save yourself a second trip.

Incoming Clutter

Clear a space for all that extra clutter headed your way when guests start arriving. This space should be set up to keep coats, hats, gloves and all that other winter gear organized and out of the way. The last thing you want is greeting guests, taking their coat and trying to hang it in your already packed coat closet.

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