Procrastination-Proof Holiday Cleaning Schedule

Do you like to sink into the holiday spirit with a holiday party, family over, cookies and gingerbread houses, presents galore, and all the decorations your house can hold?

Is your home the one hosting the holiday this season?

You want your home presentable, with no possibility of your mother clicking her tongue as she holds up a stinky pair of pants outside the laundry room door, right?

But how will you manage to get and decorate the tree (and your entire home), bake, cook, shop, wrap, and clean?

If you’re like some of us, you might manage by procrastinating on all of it until the very last minute or by setting in motion a very well-laid plan.

Whether you’re one of those procrastinators or not, we’re here to supply that plan. More specifically, a cleaning plan, holiday cleaning checklist, and cleaning hacks that’ll leave you stress-free and your home spotless.

Holiday cleaning checklist

It’s easiest to make a plan after you’ve laid everything on the table. While all of these might not apply to your home, this is a general checklist of things you really probably might absolutely want to clean before you have visitors this Christmas.

Mother and daughter talking while preparing food at kitchen counter at home

With a focus on the most important and commonly used spaces…

Living room cleaning checklist

  • Clean your couch
  • Vacuum/ mop floors
  • Dust all surfaces
  • Dust the lights (most forget about the lights)
  • Remove pet hair from furniture
  • Clear any clutter
  • Wash all of your throw blankets
  • Clean out the fireplace and the flue
  • Wipe down the coffee table

Kitchen cleaning checklist

  • Clean your microwave
  • Clean and organize your fridge
  • Clean your oven
  • Sweep and mop your floors
  • Wipe objects on open shelves or above cabinets (they get greasy from all the cooking)
  • Give cabinets a good wipe-down (these also get greasy)
  • Deodorize and clean out your garbage disposal
  • Organize and wipe out cabinets
  • Stock up on paper towels and napkins

(Here’s a printable kitchen cleaning checklist, at your convenience.)

Dining room

  • Clean your tablecloth
  • Wipe down and polish your table
  • Sweep and mop your hardwood floors
  • Vacuum the rug under the table (if you have one)
  • Polish your silver (if you have any)
  • Preset your table for Christmas dinner


  • Wipe the mud marks, scraps, and smudges from your door (inside and out)
  • Clean your door mats
  • Wipe down mirror
  • Clean windows on and around the door
  • Sweep and mop floors
  • Clean baseboards and trim
  • Tidy your entry table
  • Clear away any coats and shoes that you’re not using
  • Make space for visitors to put their coats and winter gear
  • Put extra hangers in the coat closet


  • Scrub your toilet
  • Clean your sink
  • Scrub the tub/ shower/ faucets
  • Stock up on toilet paper
  • Leave extra toiletries for your guests (toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand soap…)
  • Declutter counters and cabinets
  • Empty medicine cabinet of anything not in use (and leave room for guests)
  • Fill soap dispensers
  • Wash your shower curtain
  • Soak and bleach shower liner
  • Stock extra towels, hand towels, and washcloths
  • Clean mirrors and light fixtures
  • Wash floor mats
  • Sweep and mop floors
  • Empty trash
  • Remove any soap scum from the shower head and rest of shower

(Here’s a longer and more in-depth bathroom cleaning checklist, if you’re so inclined.)

Family toasting on Christmas dinner at home


(Especially guest rooms)

  • Wash all linens
  • Vacuum floors
  • Tidy nightstands
  • Wash laundry
  • Make room in the closet for guests
  • Make the bed
  • Add extra blankets to the room in case they need one
  • Fluff pillows

Across your entire home

  • Wash your windows
  • Add candles or dispense essential oils
  • Replace air filters
  • Turn on holiday lights
  • Water the houseplants

(Looking for an entire house cleaning checklist for any occasion or season, we have you covered.)

While there are tons of more nitty-gritty tasks you can do to clean your home, let’s be honest, you simply don’t have the time before everyone arrives.

This list is to get you through the holidays with a quick clean that even the most scrutinizing family members can’t raise their noses at. It’s thorough, but still somewhat surface-level.

And that means there’s some speed involved.

Exactly what you need this time of year.

A stress-free holiday cleaning plan

Cleaning your entire house in one day would be impressive, but chances are you have too many things going on to tackle such a task (unless you hire a housekeeper – Here’s how much to tip a house cleaner, by the way).

Your massive to-do list might also be leading to a little procrastination on the cleaning front.

The best way to rid yourself of procrastination and get ahead of your cleaning is to tidy and clean your home in stages, over a week period.

Here’s a mock-up of what that could look like:

Sister and brother making Christmas gingerbread cookies with a mother

Day 1: Do the general cleaning

This is the day for the windows, holiday decor, setting the candles, and generally preparing your home for guests.

This may also be a great time to drop the extra towels, toiletries, robes, magazines, etc into the proper rooms.

I’d suggest doing this first because you want spaces to remain clean for guests. Cleaning them too early may result in more mess to clean later.

Day 2: Clean all of the bedrooms

Since the bedrooms likely aren’t going to be used until your guests arrive, you can clean and forget.

Day 3: Clean the entryway

The entryway may be a high-traffic area, and you may have to do another sweep and mop session before everyone arrives, but it’s a good time to clear clutter and extra coats.

Day 4: Clean the living room

Another high-traffic and well-lived-in room, but if you can get your deep clean done a few days before everyone arrives you may only have some simple tidying to do in the days ahead.

Day 5: Wash all the linens and laundry

Throughout the week, you’ve piled all the bed and table linens and laundry from cleaning. Might as well punch in all out in one day, altogether.

This is also a good day to do things like soak the shower liner and wash the shower curtain.

Day 6: Clean the bathrooms

Doing the bathrooms one or two days before everyone arrives ensures they’re really going to be clean for guests.

We know how fast and easy it is to make a bathroom dirty. Some toothpaste on the counter or in the sink. A few toothpaste and water flicks on the mirror…

Christmas tradition

Day 7: Clean the kitchen

You’re going to be whipping up a feast for your family and friends. AKA, it’s going to look like a storm blew through for a while.

Of course, you can get deep cleaning finished ahead of time if you’re too busy in the kitchen to get to it. But you’ll still want a good and thorough cleaning before guests arrive.

This is just a mock-up cleaning schedule. How, when, and what you clean is entirely up to you. But we find that laying out a game plan helps to keep us motivated (and keeps us from leaving it all for the next holiday).

(If you’re in a real hurry, here are some smart home ideas to help you save time on chores.)

Holiday cleaning tips (and motivation to clean)

You might think cleaning hacks are cleaning hacks all year round, and they are… but there are some that really help you keep the holiday shine and level out the chaos during the special times of year.

Use scented pinecones

As much as we love a spiced apple or pine and cedar candle to fill the home with that holiday smell, it’s impossible to keep your candles burning 24/7.

They’d last a day and widdle down to a figment of your imagination in no time at all (“didn’t I have a candle? Wasn’t there a delightful scent before?”)

You can use an essential oil diffusor to offset the loss of candles. Or, you can just use scented pinecones.

Essential oils can be fairly expensive, especially if you’re supplying the whole house for the month.

Scented pinecones are affordable, useful in decorations (in the tree, wreaths, tabletop decor… and even in wooden bowls on top of the toilet).

Their holiday scent can last for more than a month and don’t require any refills or monitoring.

Use air purifiers to keep dust and smells tampered

If you don’t have time to dust, have pets, and cook a lot, an air purifier is a great way to tamper with those smells without effort.

An air purifier (like Aeris) can run 24/7 and soak up dander, smells of burnt food (hey, it happens), smoke from your candles and fireplace, and any other foul smell.

Multi-Generation Family Celebrating Christmas At Home With Grandfather Serving Turkey

Place a purifier in your kitchen, bathrooms, areas where you keep the cat litter (if it’s in a trafficked area– a garage wouldn’t matter so much).

(Read here to learn why an air purifier in your basement is essential.)

Focus on only the high-traffic areas

You simply do not have time to clean every area of your home, empty the vents, steam the curtains… yeah, not happening.

Instead, focus only on the areas your overnight guests will be or will see.

Everything else can either wait, or be hidden in an often forgotten area of the home (an attic, garage, basement, or unused bedroom.)

Create individual cleaning baskets for each room

Knowing you have to clean, paired with the enormity of the job, will most definitely keep many people from cleaning.

But you can break the job down into smaller pieces, and make it more digestible when you keep mini cleaning kits with only the most necessary cleaning supplies— all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, rags— in each space.

That way, you can either clean as you go, clean when you’re motivated, or simply maintain a mindset that you only have to clean one space.

(This is one of Keep it Simple Sparkles’ tips to save time cleaning)

Use command strip hangers on your trash bins

You’re going to be changing your trash A LOT throughout the holidays. Save yourself some time and energy– and speed up the process– by adding command strips (upside down) to your trash bin.

Then, you can layer multiple trash bags in the bin, and hook the strings to the command hooks to keep them in place.

Use a Roomba® robot vacuum cleanerBusiness office new year's party and celebrations

Let’s face it, between all the cooking, baking, kids running around, presents, and pine needles, you have a lot of messes to clean up throughout the holidays.

Breaking out the vacuum is already a hassle enough every few days. To have to take it out for little messes here and there… you’d rather not.

Between the cords weaving between feet, and the break away from the festivities to clean, it’s never ideal.

A Roomba® robot vacuum continually cleans your home on your schedule. Set it to clean specific areas at specific times, stay away from certain areas, or focus more on others.

You won’t have to step away from your family and friends to clean a mess, such as pine needles or flour spilled on the floor. It’s one less hassle and worry this holiday season.

One step ahead of the mess.


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