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Home Maintenance

Five Things to Clean Before the Guests Arrive

If guests are headed your way, you might be feeling pressure to balance your already demanding schedule and deep holiday cleaning. Don’t panic! The good news is that you only need to focus on a few, highly-visible areas in your home to make a positive impression and create a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. If you are ready to get started, read on as we reveal our favorite holiday cleaning tips for creating a guest-ready home.

Declutter and Sweep the Entryway

Whether your entryway opens directly into your living space or it reveals a long foyer, it is most likely to be the place where your boots, coats, umbrellas, and drop zone now reside. It’s also the first impression your guests will have of the inside of your home. As Martha Stewart Living points out, “it’s hard for your guests to feel welcome if they’re tripping over days’ worth of your castoffs.” It’s no wonder then that one of their favorite holiday cleaning tips is to do a major declutter the day before or the day of your festivities.

Start by removing your family’s excess stuff. Put extra coats, boots, and other apparel into closets, even if you will need to bring them back out after the event. Similarly, tidy areas that hold mail, extra masks, hand sanitizers, and keys. Wipe down any mirrors and lightly dust table surfaces. If you have the time, do a quick sweep or mop of the entire entryway and threshold once the area has been cleared. After the threshold has been swept, clear away dead leaves or debris from welcome mats or door decorations. Not only will you be amazed at how open and clean everything feels, but your guests will be able to use this space easily for their own needs. 

Banish Bathroom Germs

Nothing says “a clean home” like a germ-free bathroom for your guests. One of our most-often shared holiday cleaning tips involves corralling your personal bathroom items before your guests arrive. If you don’t have a vanity or bathroom cabinets, grab a decorative or utility container and stash your daily-use items inside. Pop the top on and move the items into your bedroom or a linen closet after you are finished getting ready. Because they are contained, it will be easy enough to move those items back into your bathroom after your guests have left. 

Next, disinfect the counters, sink, and toilet. Wipe down the mirror. Clean the soap dish or dispenser, and place freshly laundered (or disposable) hand towels in an easy-to-access spot. Double-check that there are extra rolls of toilet paper available. Pull the shower/bath curtain closed. If you have glass doors on your shower, you may want to do a quick wipe down to remove any soap buildup. If you have extra time, mop or Swiffer the floor. 

Address Any Living Room Mess

Do a quick assessment of whichever room is your social space (living room, family room, glass-enclosed sunroom, etc.) and make a list of the most challenging areas. Southern Living suggests that people start to prepare for guests by dusting “for looks and for those with allergies (you don’t want Grandma sniffling and sneezing during the whole visit).” Better Homes & Gardens loves the idea of having a 1-hour holiday cleaning plan, which includes “[vacuuming] high-traffic areas,” decluttering throughout the space, “[tidying] stacks of magazines and books,” and putting out lightly scented candles. 

Vacuum the sofa to ensure that pet hair and any stray crumbs have been removed. Plump the pillows, add a cozy throw blanket, and generally straighten the couch, so it feels welcoming to holiday company. If you have days available for your holiday cleaning, one of Southern Living’s favorite tips is to clean the entertaining room’s carpet. But if you can’t get the entire thing steam-cleaned, consider spot-cleaning where necessary. The Magazine also suggests hiding the remote to keep the focus on family and friends. However, if your holiday traditions include things like Thanksgiving football or Christmas basketball games (or other family-favorite sporting events), do a quick disinfect of the remote before people arrive. 

Prep The Kitchen

Cleaning the kitchen when you are hosting holiday celebrations is tricky. We all like to think that we will be finished cooking before the guests ring the bell, but that’s often difficult for holidays with a significant food element. Better Homes & Gardens suggests that you divide the tasks into two stages. The first stage would take place before food preparation begins, and the second would occur an hour or so before your holiday festivities start. For example, two days before the event, the Magazine recommends “[cleaning] out the refrigerator, [which makes] room for party foods,” “[wiping] down all large and small appliances,” removing fingerprints and old cooking splatters from backsplashes and cabinets, and “[taking] recycling to recycling bins or facilities.” 

If you are faced with only an hour before the arrival of guests, Better Homes & Gardens offers speedy holiday cleaning tips such as “[wipe down kitchen counters with household cleaner,” and “damp-mop the kitchen floor.” Also, if you are using flatware, glasses, or china that is usually stashed in a cabinet, take a moment or two to rinse off any accumulated dust.

What do you do if holiday cooking has gotten more involved than you anticipated, and you are really pressed for time? No worries. Martha Stewart Living has the answer: “if you’re in a pinch or last-minute guests are on their way over, stash the dirty dishes inside the dishwasher and run your sponge over the visible water spots.” Take out the kitchen garbage, and you will be ready for the fun to begin. 

Freshen the Guest Room

Lastly, if you have guests staying overnight, our holiday cleaning tips include refreshing your guest room. While you don’t have to deep clean the room, you will want to ensure that clean sheets are on the bed (or beds) and the surfaces are dust-free. Replace any light bulbs that may have burned out and grab extra pillows. If possible, make some space in the closet so that guests can hang up their holiday finest. And, as one final tip, Southern Living recommends “[making] sure your guests have water, magazines, and fresh towels within reach.” It’s this extra touch that will make them feel truly welcome in your home for the holidays.