Don’t you just love the holidays? The excitement of all those presents, food and reunions with family somehow makes up for the mess you are left with when it is all over. Like any cleaning task, cleaning after the holidays can feel more manageable if you plan in advance. Instead of having to wait until when the task becomes bigger, start early with the smaller chores as you build up to the bigger ones at the end of the season.
Gloria Orogot, the CEO of Gloria Cleaning Services, recommends starting with the bathroom. Your bathroom has received heavy traffic in the last several days and you are probably expecting more, so you need to be vigilant about its condition.
“As a general rule, always thoroughly scrub, clean and disinfect after guests leave because poorly cleaned bathrooms are potential health hazards. The last thing you want is catching a fungal infection or some other disease after using the toilet. When cleaning a bathroom, the main objective is to ensure that every surface, fixture or object in the room is clean, bright, spotless, and sanitary,” she advises.
Next tackle the living room. If your holiday was as successful as mine, your living room has the carpet stains and debris to show for it. It goes without saying that sofas and carpets, especially the fabric ones are not designed for entertaining, especially if the guests include children.
Michael Kaye, a cleaning expert, recommends cleaning up the mess before it settles into the material.
“To avoid unpleasant surprises later, tackle the cleaning now. Take the cushions off the furniture and remove all the crumbs and other stray food items that could have ended up in between cushions. If left trapped there, they might rot and bring an unpleasant smell to your sofas,” Kaye shares.
If you see any stains, Kaye says it is better to clean them as soon as possible.
“Put one tablespoon of liquid soap into two cups of warm water. Get a clean white cloth and dab it into your soapy water. Pat over the stain and use a dry white cloth to absorb the water. Repeat until stain has gone,” he tips.
In case the stain remains, then add a tablespoon of white vinegar into your soapy solution. White vinegar is a great household cleaner and can be used in all sorts of cleaning solutions.
For carpeting, you can use a broom or lint brush to sweep up all the dust and crumbs. If you feel there are stains that need to be cleaned, add a dry carpet cleaner, and brush in along with the baking powder.
Make sure you use a clean, soft brush so as not to damage the fabric. You can purchase specific carpet and upholstery cleaning brushes, but using a clean brush from your dustpan and brush will work just fine.
Cooking is a big part of the holiday which is also the messiest. Orogot urges cleaning up while you are still cooking as a way of getting on top of things.
“You should not be afraid to ask for help from some of your guests. Start with the nicer and more decorative plates, wine glasses, crystal stemware and your fancy dishes so they are washed and safely kept to avoid any accident,” she advises.
Rinse all the saucepans and dishes and soak them. This will save you time later as you will not have to scrape off hardened bits of food.
If you just did not get around to cleaning the refrigerator or freezer before the holidays, Kaye says now is a good time to do it.
Clean out any old or expired food to make room for the new. Make sure to clean out any holiday food that has already gone bad or you do not plan on eating. For things you want to hang onto longer, try vacuum sealing them and putting them in the freezer for extended storage.
Remember the attention you gave to your guest bedroom to make it ready? Well, you might need the same attention when the guests leave, not because they are messy but it is a good idea to disinfect the house after so many guests.
Clean out the guest bedroom and wash the beddings if they were used during the holiday.
Now that the guests are gone, and you have cleaned up, the next step is to disinfect your home, which helps in killing a high percentage of the germs on a surface or rendering them incapable of reproducing.
Disinfecting takes care of more than just dirt, grease, or dust. You can even make your own disinfectant using items that are already in your home.
Mix half a cup of vodka, half a cup white distilled vinegar in 3/4 cup water. 50-60 drops tea tree essential oil or lavender essential oil for a fresh scent. Pour mixture into a spray bottle, and shake the bottle to combine the vodka and oils.
Sort the gifts
It is amazing how much stuff we accumulate through holiday gifts from our loved ones. While some of these gifts become useful others just only add to the home clutter.
Cheryl Bagambe, a mother of four, says she finds this time of the year stressful because of the tough decisions she has to make, especially as far the children’s gifts are concerned.
“While the adults can make up their minds about what they are going to keep and what they want to get rid of, children want to hang onto everything. So I give them three days to play with all their toys and then make them choose only what they want to keep. We donate the rest to our church,” Bagambe shares.
Likewise she and her husband also choose only three items from the gifts they received and donate or re-gift the rest.
She also recommends the one in, two out rule to help you manage your newly acquired loot. If you have a new shirt, find two old shirts you no longer wear and set them aside for donation. If you have been given a new book, replace two old books you know you will not pick up again. Teach your children this rule with their toys as well.
Decorations and ornaments
Another consequence of the holiday is the storing of the decorations and ornaments.
Bagambe reveals she makes up her mind on which ornaments and decorations she wants to keep and those she wants to dispose of.
“I have two permanent boxes that store holiday decorations and I restrict myself to just those two. The larger box keeps the more sturdy ornaments and the smaller one for the fragile ones,” she relates.
Bagambe is quick to add that compared to most households she uses very few ornaments and finds pleasure in recycling instead of buying new things every year. If you have more, you do not have to limit yourself to a number of boxes; instead she recommends organising the decorations and ornaments by colour, breakable, unbreakable, accessories, or ornaments. Remember to label your boxes properly to save yourself time when you are unloading them 11 months later.
Not all decorations should go into boxes as some might be damaged and lose their shapes.
For instance bows and ribbons need to be hung so that they do not get creased. You can use the wire already attached to your bow and twist this around a clothes hanger.
String light also need special care during storage to prevent them from getting tangled up and ending up damaged. Bagambe recommends using a cardboard if you do not have storage containers made for string lights.
“Get a sturdy box and cut out cardboard pieces. Next tape one end to the cardboard piece and start wrapping and secure the opposite end with another piece of tape. This way they will not end up tangled up when placed in their storage box or container,” she recommends.