How to Clean Up After Thanksgiving in Half the Time

Family gathered around the Thanksgiving tableImage: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

The Pilgrims were on to something when they planned a Thanksgiving potluck; here are other good ideas that’ll simplify your T-Day kitchen cleanup.

Want something to be thankful for?

Check out these tips that’ll make your Thanksgiving kitchen cleanup faster and easier — and will give you more time to enjoy family and friends.

Plan a Potluck

The first Thanksgiving was a potluck; so let your guests share the fun and bring dishes to share. Then make sure they take home their serving bowls and platters, which will cut down on dishes to wash and put away.

Related: How to Avoid Holiday Hosting Disasters

Set Up a Soaking Station

Soak pots and pans as soon as you transfer food to platters. But instead of filling the sink with soaking pots, designate a small trashcan as the soaking spot. Fill it will soapy water and dirty pots, and hide it under a sink or in a mudroom. That way, your sink is free throughout the evening to clean as you go and rinse dishes on the way to the dishwasher.




Triple-Duty Cookware

Cut down on cleanup by selecting cookware that can go from oven to table to freezer. Or, serve food in edible containers, such as bread bowls or hollowed-out winter squash, which you can either consume or compost.

Empty Fridge

Start your holiday with a clean slate, which will make the inevitable mess less daunting than piling clutter onto clutter. Before beginning Thanksgiving prep, pick up depressing home clutter and clean out your fridge to make room for ingredients and leftovers. 

If possible, designate a shelf for Thanksgiving food, which should be empty when you start your meal, then filled with leftovers when you’re finished. In a week, clean out that shelf again. Make soup from leftover meat and veggies, and then freeze. Compost wilted greens. Toss old dairy products.

Prepare Roasting Pans

You won’t have to clean what you don’t get dirty. So line your turkey roasting pans with heavy-duty aluminum foil, or cook the bird in a bag. Pour drippings into a pot to make gravy, then throw away the liner.

Line Garbage Cans

Double- or triple-line garbage cans, which saves time when the cleaning campaign begins. After you toss a trash bag, there’s another waiting for action.

Stop Stains

Don’t let stains on carpet or rings on furniture set. While wine stains are still wet, dab with go-to cleaner hydrogen peroxide mixed with a few drops of dish detergent; blot with a clean cloth. Get rid of water stains on wood furniture with a dab of white toothpaste (not gel). Rub in the direction of the grain.

Pump Up the Music

Up-tempo music will give you a second wind for cleaning. So turn off the soothing dinner tunes and get rocking with a cleaning playlist.

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