Holiday cleaning hacks

Thanksgiving is but a stomach-busting memory.  Yet it has ushered in the official start of the holiday entertaining season.

Whether your home will welcome a few family members Christmas Eve or dazzle dozens of friends during a holiday open house bash, clean furnishings and decorations will be part of the list you'll be making and checking twice.

Relax, spiffing up your home for the entertaining days ahead needn't mean endless unmerry hours spent with mop and bucket in hand. These holiday cleaning hacks will keep cleaning time to a minimum and maximize your home's sparkle factor during the entertaining season ahead.

Preparing for Holiday Entertaining

To refresh hard-to-clean holiday decor such as ornaments and pine cones that have been sitting in a box for a year, dust off the objects using a hair dryer on a low setting.

Other quick cleaning hacks for holiday decor:

  • To spiff up those special-occasion carafes, decanters, and vases, dissolve denture cleaner in a measuring cup with water. Pour the mixture into the carafe and swirl. Let sit overnight and rinse in the morning. 
  • Wash all your fine china and silver flatware a week before your holiday gathering - it's one less thing to worry about at the last minute. Run sterling silver and silver-plated flatware through the dishwasher (don't use lemon-scented dishwashing detergent). And never bunch stainless steel and silver in the same basket. 
  • Clear a closet. It doesn't necessarily have to be clean, as long as it looks neat and tidy. Clear out what you can to make room for winter jackets and overnight bags in your hall closet. Store what you can in another place or the garage, and organize what's left inside. Finish by wiping the cleared shelf area with a wet rag to remove dust, and vacuum or sweep the floor. Now, you're ready for guests' overcoats and bags.

Cleaning Hacks for All Through the House

  • Dust surfaces at eye level and below weekly - or at least before guests arrive. Your company probably won't notice that you haven't dusted on top of the refrigerator in years, but they will immediately spot a layer of household dirt on those family pictures on your mantel. Run a damp rag over your shelves and surfaces; dry with a soft, clean towel.
  • Vacuum or sweep common areas. Plan to buff the surface areas of your living room, dining room, and kitchen - weekly, if possible. If the dust bunnies aren't leaping out at you, do a quick once-over of the bare areas with a vacuum or broom. If the fluffy stuff has begun to be fruitful and multiply, you'll need to set aside a bit more floor time.
  • Let the spirit of the season shine through. Dull windows put a damper on those festive lights inside and outside of your home, but it's simple to put the sparkle back. Concentrate your efforts on those windows that are most noticeable to your guests - in the living room, dining room, family room, and kitchen. Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with water in a quart spray bottle and use a squeegee or lint-free cloth to clean and dry each window. 
  • Finally, find a place for everything. If you don't have a moment to spare and guests are on their way to your home, opt for an organizing task instead of cleaning. Stash the kids' toys in a basket or gather up stray items and stash them in your bedroom until your guests depart or retire for the evening. A room that looks neat appears clean - even if you know better.
    Happy holidays!

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