From Spotlight: Tips For Your Home That’ll Put More Happy in Your Holidays

Holiday Entertaining: Home Cleaning Checklist

These simple cleaning tips will give you a clean house to celebrate when you host for the holidays.

illustration of Santa holding a checklist with a feather pen and scribbling with “Santa's To-Do List” at the top
Image: Maggie Stuart for HouseLogic

In getting ready to entertain for the holidays, a random approach may get you random results. Probably not what you're going for. That's why it's smart to have a plan. But instead of using boilerplate steps, you can choose from a checklist like this one and pick what appeals to you the most.

These 13 steps are a good starting point based on advice from professional house cleaning businesses.

13 Steps to Clean House for Holiday Entertaining

#1 Tidy Up

 Declutter living areas, countertops, and floors. Gather everything in a laundry basket, then sort directly from the basket, advises Debbie Sardone, owner of Don’t forget the small touches too, like fluffing the couch pillows and folding throw blankets, adds Alicia Sokolowski, president and co-CEO of AspenClean, a chemical-free cleaning service based in Canada.

#2 Dust

Dust surfaces in all areas of the house, from the tabletops to the window blinds, ceiling fans, and lighting fixtures. 

Pro tip: “We use scented dusters, which eradicate dust and leave a fresh smell behind,” says Obi Ukwu, manager and founder of Maidattendants, based in Nashville. 

#3 Wipe Down Surfaces

Wipe down faucets in the bathroom and kitchen, countertops, and smudges and fingerprints from glass doors, windows, and mirrors. Also, don’t forget to clean chairs and stools your guests will be sitting on. 

#4 Shine Up the Bathroom

Use a cleaning agent to thoroughly rub the toilet, sink, and shower (including the shower tracks and curtain). Sweep all personal items into drawers so countertops are bare. 

Pro tip: A pumice stone can be a great tool for removing rust and scum from hard surfaces.

#5 Focus on the Kitchen

Clean appliances, countertops, stovetops, the oven, the microwave, and the refrigerator. 

Pro tip: Put an open box of baking soda inside the refrigerator to neutralize odors and keep leftover food smells at bay, Ukwu says. 

#6 Tend to the Floors

Focus on eliminating dirt in high-traffic areas. Vacuum the rugs and carpet and mop the floors. 

Pro tip: A lemon-scented cleaning agent will make the room smell extra clean, says Johnny Pallares, owner of De La Rosa House Cleaning in Phoenix.

#7 Clean the Baseboards

Baseboards collect dust over time, and the film can make your home appear dirty. 

Pro tip: Vacuum the baseboards to remove dirt and dust, then wipe them down with vinegar and water, Ukwu says.

#8 Check Supplies

Fully stock the bathroom with toilet paper, tissues, and soap for guests. Keep extra supplies in cabinets nearby, in case you need to quickly replenish.

#9 Pay Attention to Smells

While cleaning your home, open windows or turn on the vents, Sokolowski says. Light a candle before guests arrive to fill your home with a fresh scent. 

Pro tip: Try an air freshener in the bathroom to keep it smelling clean. 

#10 Take Out the Trash

Smells can build up in trash cans, so take out the trash regularly, especially before guests arrive. 

Pro tip: Keep extra trash bags inside the bottom of your trash can so it’s easy for you — or your guests — to keep changing out bags, Sardone suggests. 

#11 Spruce Up the Guest Room

For overnight guests, change the bedding. Dust the tabletops, declutter, and carve out space for a suitcase, along with leaving an open spot in the closet for their items, Sokolowski says. 

#12 Do an Exterior Checkup

Make sure sidewalks are clear of ice or snow. Remove eyesores like rust stains on patios, porches, and driveways. 

Pro tip: Use a lemon to remove stains. “Mixing pure lemon juice into your cleaning routine yields some impressive results,” Sokolowski says.

#13 Prepare an Emergency Cleaning Kit

During parties or gatherings, food and drink stains are often unavoidable. Keep spot cleaner nearby, Sokolowski recommends.

Think of the cleaning tip checklist not as a taskmaster, but a way to help you prioritize and time your home cleaning for holiday entertaining. You’ll be ready to celebrate even before the first guest arrives! 

Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Melissa Dittmann Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey loves to talk real estate and is obsessed with the design of other people’s homes (but in a noncreepy way!). You can hear her weekly on the syndicated radio show and podcast, Real Estate Today, in her housing trends segment “Hot or Not?” She is also the creator of the Styled, Staged & Sold blog and host of The Housing Muse podcast. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @housingmuse