Whether you’re hosting an expertly planned party or a last-minute hang-out, one thing remains the same—you require a beautiful, clean home. In all the chaos of the festive season, it can be hard to find the time to do anything, let alone a full home detail. Lucky for us, cleaning pro Kathy Cohoon of Two Maids & a Mop is here to help.
Meet the Expert
Kathy Cohoon is a cleaning expert at Two Maids & a Mop, which provides residential house cleaning services in Tallahassee, FL.
If you’re putting off cleaning until the day of, Cohoon says don’t. There are things you can do now to help your future hosting self.
“The best way to ensure a quick deep clean is to keep things as tidy as possible day-to-day," Cohoon tells The Spruce. "The holidays are hectic, so stick to a daily cleaning schedule. Doing a few chores per day will keep things as clean as possible during this busy season. When things are mostly under control, a quick deep clean doesn’t seem quite as daunting. "
Work With Your Holiday Decor, Not Against It
This time of year, cleaning can feel a bit like an obstacle course—but Cohoon says it’s all in how you prepare.
“The best way to keep homes clean with decor around is to clean it before putting it up,” she says. “If it’s too late for that, don’t worry—keep feather dusters and microfiber cloths on hand to keep things tidy. You can lightly dust most wreaths and even trees, depending on your ornaments, with a feather duster. Use a microfiber cloth for other decor like figurines or stocking holders.”
Along with daily tidying regardless of your hosting plans, Cohoon says it’s key to stock your supplies at all times, too. "Start with your favorite cleaning products—it never hurts to keep stocked up on festive-smelling candles or air fresheners either," she says.
Divide and Conquer
This one might sound easier said than done, but it’s important: “Enlist help,” Cohoon says. “Tag in your partner or kids to help in a quick deep clean. Give everyone three to five jobs to do, and set timers to keep things on track. Since cleaning under pressure can feel overwhelming, focus on doing things quickly but effectively by having a strategy in place.”
Since cleaning under pressure can feel overwhelming, focus on doing things quickly but effectively.
Do the Bathrooms First
Much like your regular to-do list, Cohoon advises accomplishing the most grueling tasks first.
“Bathrooms are typically some of the smallest areas in the home but can be the most time-consuming to clean, and the least desirable," she says. "From the toilet and shower to the tile grout and sink, there’s plenty to be done, so it’s best to knock it out first.”
Prioritize Key Rooms
Once the bathrooms are clean and you don’t know where to head next, Cohoon says you should focus on the spaces your guests are most likely to see.
“Your house guests will likely gather in a few rooms in your home, not all of them,” she notes. “That means you should focus your cleaning efforts on where they will be, like the dining room, the kitchen, and the bathrooms. Don't waste time worrying about your own bedroom or the laundry room if your guests won’t ever be in them.”
Clear the Floors
In terms of tidying, Cohoon suggests starting from the bottom of the room up.
“Your guests will not feel welcome if they have to maneuver around piles of dog toys and children’s crafts strewn all over the floor,” she says. “It may not be necessary to deep-clean your floors, but you should make sure the areas that guests will be in are free from clutter and debris.”
Make a Kitchen Checklist
When it comes to cleaning the kitchen, Cohoon says it’s good to have a list of everything you need to do.
“Besides the living room, the kitchen is one of the most frequented areas of the home and needs continuous cleaning,” she says.
Declutter the Countertops
No matter what you do in the kitchen, Cohoon says one thing is key. “Declutter the countertops and clean and put away dirty dishes,” she says.
Making sure your countertops and tables are clear will make the entire room feel bigger and brighter, Cohoon points out. “Your guests will have a spot to put their drink down, and, since you’ve done the work beforehand, clean-up should be even quicker," she says.
Make it Fun
If you’re working with a tiny team (meaning: small children), Cohoon says you can recruit assistants by making it a game.
“Get each member to chip in and to make it fun, create a game,” Cohoon says. “Whoever can vacuum, make their bed, put away stray clothes, and wipe down any tables the fastest wins.”
Engage All the Senses
Cohoon tells us there's one thing you can do to instantly transform a home, and that’s scent.
“A fresh scent can make your home feel warm and inviting,” she says. “A pleasant aroma in the home can definitely create the effect of a clean space, and you can attain this by lighting a candle, using a scent spray, or freshly baking a meal or dessert before guests arrive.”
Rely on This Tried-and-True Hack
If you’re looking for a true industry secret, Cohoon gave us her fave tidying hack—and it’s extremely validating.
“The oldest trick in the book is to cover up any lingering messes with something else,” she says. “Kids took a crayon to the wall? Cover it with a decorative sign. Stain on the counter? Cover it with a coaster. There are endless ways to cover a mess just long enough to make your guests think your home is clean!”
Most importantly, Cohoon says, is that you don’t freak out. “Remember that the holidays are about joy and family, so try not to stress over a little dust," she suggests.