Welcome to the 12 days of cleaning before Christmas! Here’s how to avoid the frantic cleaning marathon the day before holiday guests arrive because yes, your guests do judge you.
A 2021 survey released by the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) found that 74% of Americans judge the hosts of holiday gatherings on the cleanliness and tidiness of their homes – at least a little bit. While we couldn’t find Canada-specific stats, it’s not hard to extrapolate these results to our Canadian homes. We might be nice, but we still judge.
Now, you probably won’t be so frazzled that you accidentally leave your kid home alone (or in New York) for a couple of days, but it won’t be pretty. Follow this to-do list over the next 12 days to take right into your holiday festivities, minus the panic. Of course, you do have another option: Hire a cleaning company to come in and do this prep-cleaning for you! The best-case scenario would be two cleans over two weeks, but in the event you’re going solo, here’s a list to help drip out the work over the next 12 days.
Day 1: Spiffy up your guest bedrooms
Get in there and change the sheets and plump the pillows! Get your guest room(s) out of the way early and then close the door until they arrive. Clear out some drawers if you need to, and make some space in the closet. Do a good dust and vacuum, smooth down the duvet and lay out a fresh set of face and bath towels on the end of the bed. For a cute little touch, pop one of these adorable Swedish Claus on the bed.
Day 2: Tackle your guest bathrooms
Gather up your bathroom cleaners and hit your guest bathrooms and half-baths in one go. Start with the toilet and work your way outwards. Make your tub, shower, tiles, sinks and faucets shine with a simple-yet-effective water-vinegar mix. Roll a bunch of hand towels and stack them in a pyramid on the counter or fun basket so when guests do arrive, you just need to grab a fresh to hang on the hooks or rings. Finish up by cleaning your mirrors and floors – find a whole list of eco-friendly cleaning recipes right here.
Day 3: Deck your hallways
Grab a spritz of water and vinegar, and a clean soft cloth to wipe away those finger prints, smudges and marks off the walls of your main hallways. Then, take a damp cloth and run it along the top of your baseboards. Rinse, squeeze, and then run your cloth over the tops of your picture frames to get that dust off. Finish off the hallways with a vacuum and a mop and celebrate with an eggnog latte because you’ve just completed another task for cleaning before Christmas!
Day 4: Magic-clean your master bedroom
Focus on the bed and change out your mattress protector, sheets, bed skirt, duvet and pillow cases for a fresh start to your holiday season. Vacuum everywhere, dust your nightstands and other furniture, and give your window sills and baseboards a wipe, too. Clean your mirrors so you can enjoy that incredible winter sunlight, and wipe down your light switches and door handles. By the time you’re done, your bedroom will look and smell a dream.
Day 5: Shine up your master bathroom
For Day 5 of cleaning before Christmas, rinse and repeat the process from your guest bathrooms! Toilet first, then counters, sinks, tub and/or shower. Wipe down your baseboards and the base of the toilet. Then tackle the mirrors and (gulp) your vanity/makeup area (new cleaning cloth, of course!), before restocking your bathroom with fresh towels and finish up with a good floor vacuum and mop.
Day 6: Prep your foyer
This is the first thing people see when you fling open your doors for the holidays, so get it sparkling clean! Wipe down your walls and baseboards with a basic water-vinegar solution, and dust your tables and along the tops of any picture frames. Tidy up or hide away any clutter and display your fave holiday decor instead. Clean any mirrors and wipe down your doors, door handles and light switches. Don’t forget to dust your lighting here as well – just be safe!
Day 7: Love up your living room
If you have a formal living room that doesn’t see a lot of action, this could be a simple dust, vacuum/mop situation, hitting those baseboards and window sills, too. If your living room is well-used, tackle the clutter first, and then dust, including baseboards, furniture, and lighting. Then give it a good vacuum (followed by a mop for hardwood, tile or laminate areas) – don’t forget to move any furniture you can to get under and around the legs, and in behind.
Day 8: Set your dining room table
Bring out all your holiday cheer – and table dressings! Start with all the dusting and vacuuming to start with a clean slate. Then wipe down your table and lay out your tablecloth or runner. Spritz any wrinkled areas or creases lightly with water and smooth it out with your hands. Let it dry while you gather your table settings and silverware, and map out your table plan. Polish any silver that looks tarnished. Once your tablecloth is dry, set your table and decorate to your heart’s’ content.
Day 9: Take on the kids’ rooms
This is towards the final days in our cleaning before Christmas schedule because it’s a big ask to keep your kids’ rooms clean for two weeks! Start with the floor clutter and toys, then tackle any desk or crafting areas before dusting and wiping down every surface you see. Change the bedsheets, pillow cases and duvet, and finish up with a vacuum/mop.. This is a great time to go through toys with your kid to see what can go (Santa’s coming soon, and you need to make space for the new toys).
Day 10: Conquer the kitchen
This should coincide nicely with your holiday dinner prep, giving you a nice clean slate to work with. Put on a good podcast or playlist and take the time to wipe down your cabinet fronts and appliances, getting in those creases and corners. Wipe down your counters and hit your sink with a water-vinegar mix and some baking soda to get any extra grime from the drain and corners, and use the same solution to clean your faucets. This is also a great time to clean out your fridge (this is a lot – keep in mind Scrubbi has add-ons for interior fridge cleaning and interior oven cleaning).
Day 11: Final sweep of your floors
Floors are hard to clean ahead of time, so take Day 11 to do another run with the vacuum and mop. Focus on high-traffic areas like your main hallways and entryways, the kitchen and main entertaining areas. For a good wood cleaner with a holiday twist, mix equal parts water, white vinegar, and rubbing alcohol, and add a few drops of a holiday-inspired scented oil and spray away!
Day 12: Clear the last-minute clutter
Final day! It’s an easy one – pop around to all the main rooms and hallways to pick up any clutter that accumulated since your ‘big clean’ of that space. Get your decor looking just the way you want it and get your kids to do a quick clean-up of their own rooms. Then turn on the holiday lights and wait for a whole new brand of chaos to arrive on your doorstep (said with love, of course)!