Home How-To How to Clean Your Home for Holiday Guests

How to Clean Your Home for Holiday Guests


With only a few days until Christmas, we can’t be the only ones with that, “Holy crap,” overwhelmed feeling of impending doom, knowing holiday guests will soon be arriving. Fret not, because we’re here to make your last minute holiday cleaning go a whole lot smoother. Toss on some comfy sweats, take a few deep breaths, pour yourself a glass of wine and scroll down for our step-by-step guide to a clean, party-ready home! Note: all of this will go a whole lot easier if you enlist the help of your significant other or kids, so don’t be afraid to delegate!  Now let’s clean this place up.


Three to Four Days Before

Make Sure You Have Enough Sleep Spaces

If all the guest beds and the pull-out sofa are spoken for, invest in a good-quality inflatable air mattress that can be moved from room to room. Most adults won’t balk at sleeping on one, but if you can, save them for kids, who love the camping-on-the-floor adventure.


Take Inventory of Your Linen Closet


Check your stock of towels and sheets, blankets, and other bedding for the guest rooms. If you’ve just bought new items or if you’ve got enough bedding and bath items to cover everyone’s needs but they’ve been in storage for a while, wash and dry them thoroughly.


Check Furniture & Rugs For Stains


This goes double if you have pets, young children, or accident-prone adults living in the house. Treat stains now, so you don’t have lots of wet spots around the house when guests arrive. If you can’t seem to get a tough stain out, try rotating the rug so stains are hidden underneath furniture, and invest in a couple extra decorative pillows and a throw you can drape casually over unsightly areas.


Clean Up the Clutter  


Anything that can be stashed in closets—like coats, shoes, bags and scarves—should be. For smaller items, like mail, magazines, or car keys, resist the urge to stack and instead corral them in storage baskets or bins. Station storage hampers and bins in the kids’ room closet, and have them get into the habit of putting their toys in it every night before bed. Don’t forget to put away bathroom items like makeup, hairbrushes, and flat irons in drawers, cabinets, or storage baskets.


Defeat the Dust!

Go from room to room with a Swiffer or other dry mop, running it underneath beds, consoles and lowboys, bookcases, and any other piece of furniture with legs that sits atop bare wood, tile, or other uncarpeted surfaces. We find it’s best to do this step separately from vacuuming, which needs its own level of attention during holiday prep.

Aside from areas below your feet, you should dust frequently used areas or dark surfaces at eye level, especially the TV, where dust seems to collect like starlets in a spotlight. Don’t forget to check room corners, especially near the ceiling and floor, for spider webs.


The Day Of

Ready the Guestrooms



Make the beds with the freshly washed linens, and lay out or hang a plush robe. Arrange a tray or basket of travel-size—and frequently forgotten—essentials on the dresser or a side table. Then close the doors if you need to until guests arrive, to ensure the spaces stay tidy.


Scrub the Bathroom


Start by loading up the toilet bowl with cleaner, so it can soak while you complete the rest of the cleaning.

Dump the garbage. Even if there’s only one lonely Kleenex in the bottom, clear it out. Change out the bag, as well, if it’s been in there for a while.

Use a disinfectant spray on countertops, the sink, and the toilet seat and top of the bowl. Though it may seem wasteful, it’s much healthier to wipe these surfaces down with damp paper towels (repeat as necessary to remove all the cleaner) that can be tossed out. Also give the shower or tub a good squirt, and scrub with a soft-bristled brush before rinsing.

Clean the mirrors with white vinegar and water, or the earth-friendly cleaner of your choice, and paper towels.

Remove the rug and hand towels that you’ve been using over the past week, and either replace them with clean items or wash them before putting them back.

Vacuum, then follow up with some wet mopping to make tile, linoleum, or hardwood floors sparkle. This is one of the keys to making the bathroom look squeaky-clean, so don’t skimp on it.


Touch Up the Kitchen


Photo via Four Generations One Roof

Do a final check for countertop clutter, put away any unnecessary appliances, and wipe the counters and sink with disinfectant. Change out dishtowels. Empty the garbage and put in a fresh bag. Run the vacuum quickly over the floor.


Touch Up the Living Room


Tidy up any lingering clutter, fluff your pillows, fold up mussed up blankets or throws and do another quick vacuuming.


Prep the Foyer for Guests


Photo via Beneath My Heart

‘Tis the season for coats, hats, gloves and scarves a-plenty, so make sure you have enough room in your coat closet for your guests’ winter garb, plus a place for them to stow their snowy, wet shoes. As an added thoughtful touch, place a few small vessels (bowls, baskets, boxes) on a console table or bench for stowing items like car keys and gloves.


Take a Deep Breath

Now you can truly relax and enjoy your time with friends and family! We hope this holiday cleaning guide helps your house guest prep go a little smoother. Happy holidays from all of us at Annie Selke!


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Donald Carp October 13, 2016 at 12:46 pm

I stumbled across this site recently when I was looking for some house cleaning tips. Great stuff here!
What are your thoughts on having your carpets professionally cleaned a couple weeks before guests arrive? You mentioned rotating out rugs and hiding stains (which I admit I do), but when is the “right time” to get a professional in to your home to get rid of those unsightly stains?

Annie_Selke October 14, 2016 at 8:19 am

Hi Donald! We recommend regular vacuuming and professional cleaning as needed, typically once a year!


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