10 Holiday Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Kitchen

Dec 27, 2023 / Laura Bolt

These holiday cleaning tips will help you as your normally quiet kitchen transforms into very busy place. This time of year is for reveling in friends, family, and frivolity, but it’s also a time for lots of feasting—and potential hosting stress. Before you know it, everyone will arrive carrying homemade dishes and sharing their contributions to the festivities.

Prepare your cooking and entertaining space for all those guests with these 10 simple holiday cleaning tips to get you and your kitchen ready.

  1. Take Inventory of Your Pantry

You don’t want to run out of sugar in the middle of baking cookies or find that you are short on stuffing mix when the turkey is still waiting to be filled. Now is the time to take an inventory of your pantry so you can restock and have all the holiday essentials on hand.

Julie Siegel, owner of Clean Slate Home Organizing, also recommends “going through all food and checking expiration dates. Use vertical space with proper stacking bins to create more space and keep things you use often front-and-center. Less-used items can be moved up high or into the garage, like the roasting pan that gets used once a year.”

  1. Clear off Your CountertopsWoman in orange rubber gloves holiday cleaning wooden countertop with rag and detergent

Chances are you have a lot of stuff on your kitchen countertops, from that bread machine you used one time and forgot about to the waffle iron that has not made a waffle for months. Putting those single-use kitchen appliances away will clear vital counter space just in time for the holiday feast.

We’ve got more kitchen organization tips right this way.

  1. Divide Holiday Cleaning Routines

At the beginning of the season, taking time to do a deep clean and reorganization can save you a lot of time, and stress, when things start to get busy. Make a to-do list of big tasks that only need to happen every few months, and daily tasks that can help you keep things in top shape from day to day.

“Wiping down the counter before and after preparing a meal is a daily cleaning task. Wiping down refrigerator shelves or mopping the floor are deep-cleaning tasks,” says Darla DeMorrow, owner of HeartWork Organizing and author of Organizing Your Kitchen with SORT and Succeed. “When you’re in the kitchen during the holidays, never leave empty-handed. Whenever you can, carry something in or out of the kitchen. Recycling, items being returned to the store, items to return to the basement or other storage, these all can get stuck in the kitchen and become clutter.”

Siegel recommends an easy way to keep the kitchen decluttered after you’ve organized, whether you found a permanent place for everything yourself or enlisted a professional’s help: “10-15 minutes of daily cleaning with a timer set to do a mini reset—and put items in their homes—is a very helpful way to stay organized.”

  1. Set Aside a Space for Guests’ Holiday Contributions

Bringing a dish to share is an integral part of the holidays, and you need a safe and convenient place to store all that delicious goodness. Now that the counters have been cleared, you can dedicate that space to the expected influx of sides and desserts.

Don’t be afraid to let company pitch in. “Always let guests, children, and family help by bringing dishes back to the kitchen, taking their belongings out of the kitchen, or putting cooking items away after use,” advises DeMorrow.

“For those of us who are control freaks or have servant hearts, this can be hard, but also graceful,” adds DeMorrow. “Other people want to help, and kids need to learn, so let them. Let go of your perfectionism and ask people to pitch in. Even if they don’t do dishes like you do, or even if they put things away in a different spot, it’s better than having to do it all yourself.”

Be sure to check out our tips on holiday storage ideas.

  1. Make sure the Dishwasher is Working Properlyholiday cleaning dishwasher

When the holiday meal is over, your dishwasher will be working overtime, so do yourself a favor and check it out ahead of time starting with the filter. If there are any issues, you’ll still have time to fix this vital kitchen appliance before the guests arrive.

When it comes to keeping things running smoothly, DeMorrow recommends that you “load the dishwasher each night, run it before bed, and unload first thing in the morning. With an empty dishwasher, you and holiday guests can put dirty dishes right in the dishwasher instead of letting them pile up in the sink.”

  1. Clean the Oven and Microwave

A clean oven is essential for the holidays, so set the cleaning cycle or grab your oven cleaner. While you’re at it, make sure to thoroughly clean the microwave—it will be seeing a lot of action during holiday meal prep.

  1. Disinfect and Deodorize Trash Cans

Your guests will need a place to throw their garbage, but a smelly trash can could taint those sweet memories. Now that you’re holiday cleaning, this tip will save you is to empty the trash, clean the bins, and add a healthy dose of deodorizer.

  1. Break out the good dishes (and make sure there are enough of them)women setting up table after holiday cleaning the rest of the home

A holiday feast is a great time to use your best dishes, so check the fine china and make sure it’s clean and ready to use.

“If you are hosting for the holidays,” says Siegel, “pull out all of your serving platters and serving utensils a few weeks prior and make sure you have everything you will need for the holidays—and make sure nothing is chipped or cracked.”

  1. Set up a table for the kids

If you’re hosting lots of kids at dinner, you might want to set up a special table just for the young ones. Think about where you can add an extra dining table, then rearrange the room as needed to make it fit comfortably. This tip can make holiday cleaning easier once the festivities are over.

  1. Hang the holiday decorations with care—and with space in mind

Now that the kitchen is sparkling and ready for the holidays, it’s time to think about decor. Of course, you want your kitchen to look amazing for the holidays, but too much adornment could undo your decluttering efforts. Focus on holiday decorations that can be hung up or otherwise kept out of the way—think string lights on the counters or a festive wreath or sign on the door.

Finally, you’ll want to top things off with a stylish centerpiece for the table. A chic centerpiece is the perfect topper for all your holiday efforts, and once it is in place, you’ll be ready for your guests to arrive.

Want some tips on decorating on a budget? Check out our blog.

Whether you have guests coming in from near or far, you will want to make sure your kitchen is ready for the biggest feast of the year. With our tips, you can whip your kitchen into holiday shape, then relax and enjoy this special time with your loved ones.

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