Your guide to getting tidy before-ding-dong! Holiday guest arrive and entertaining season officially begins.
The most important part of entertaining, of course, is enjoying your guests, not stressing about Aunt Martha judging your under-the-bed dust bunnies. But if it's been a while since your last big clean, now is a great time to spiff up what you can. If you have the time and a love of cleaning, tackle it all. If not, pick a room or a few tasks you think will make the biggest impact. Our experts devised methods that require the least elbow grease possible, so you can give thanks for less scrubbing.
WORK FROM THE TOP DOWN, dust cabinets, counter-tops, and other solid surfaces, taking care to hit the spots that don't often get a lot of TLC.
CLEAN GREASE BUILDUP and debris from wood cabinets with Murphy oil soap. Dilute about half a cup of oil soap in a gallon of warm water. Dip a sponge or cloth solution and wipe the cabinets, focusing on the area around knobs, which tend to get the dirties and is all at guests' eye level.
TACKLE STOVE-TOP SPILLS. Dip a sponge in soapy water, squeeze it over the spill, and let the water sit for 10 minutes. In that time, the spill will soften and become easy to wipe up with a cloth.
REFRESH MICROWAVE. Heat four table spoons of vinegar in a bowl for four minutes to loosen gunk, then wipe up the gunk with a paper towel.
REMOVE ITEMS FROM FRIDGE and pantry one shelf at a time and wipe the shelf with all-purpose cleaner. Clean condiment bottles and jars so sticky residue doesn't undo your work. As you replace the items, take a moment to relocate anything that would make more sense in a different spot.
WIPE DOWN STAINLESS-STEEL APPLIANCES with a microfiber cloth dampened in vinegar. Follow with a water damped cloth to remove excess.
REVIVE YOUR COFFEE MAKER by running a cycle with equal parts white vinegar and water. When half the liquid has brewed, stop the machine. Let it sit for an hour to loosen any oily coffee-ground residue. Finish the cycle, then run it a few more times with plain water until you can't smell vinegar anymore. If you have single serve machine that takes pods, use a Descaling Solution, which is odorless and removes calcium deposits.
MOP SEALED WOOD OR STONE FLOORS with a diluted solution of Mrs. Meyer's Multi-Surface Concentrate or neutral pH soap, wring out the mop so excess water doesn't sit on the surface. Dry-mop laminate flooring, and give tile new life with a steam cleaner which kills bacteria and removes dirt.
VACUUM CARPETS AND RUGS, then spot-treat with Hoover Professional Strength Instant Stain Remover, which can lift stains you may not have noticed.
LAUNDER THROW BLANKETS and pillow covers. Let them air-dry to prevent shrinking. Use a handheld steamer to refresh your upholstered couch and curtains.
DUST SURFACES, including bookcases and the top of the TV Console, with microfiber cloth. While you're at it, reorganize books into neat stacks and water wilted houseplants.
REMOVE FINGERPRINTS from the TV with a soft, dry cloth. For more serious smudges surrounding the screen, add a drop of dish soap to a quarter cup of water; barely dampen a soft cloth to wipe. Follow with a water-only cloth, then a dry one. Wipe remotes with the lightly dampened cloth.
WIPE DUST from all surfaces, including the buffet. Give the table and chairs a good one-over and wipe up any splatters with a damp cloth. Launder table linens
VACUUM CRUMBS from upholstered dining chairs, then use a stain-treatment spray like Folex Carpet Spot Remover, on any visible marks. Blot with an absorbent cloth to remove excess. If you're in the market for new chairs to seat all your guests, opt for furniture made with a stain-resistant fabric like Sunbrella.
SET THE TABLE AHEAD OF TIME. Keeping your table set year-around will prevent it from becoming a catchall for mail and homework-and you won't have to re-tidy it before an event . If your good china has been gathering dust on a shelf all year, give it a quick warm-water rinse in the dishwasher or sink.
SHINE MIRRORS with glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth, moving in an "S" motion to help prevent streaks.
WIPE THE VANITY and sink with a microfiber cloth and all-purpose cleaner.
SCRUB THE OUTSIDE OF THE TOILET while a bowl cleaner does its magic on the inside. Spry the inside and outside of the empty wastebasket with all-purpose cleaner and wipe dry.
TACKLE THE SHOWER AND TUB with Scrubbing Bubbles Shower Foamer. Just spray it, wait 10 minutes, and wipe the surface with a wet sponge.
CLEAN THE MEDICINE CABINET shelves with a damp cloth and arrange bottles to face forward. It's a small move that will make the space feel extra tidy.
VACUUM THE FLOOR, then mop your way out the door.
You are set for company...enjoy the holidays!