Post-Holiday Clean Up Guide From a Professional Cleaner

We’re staring down the holidays and with it, the all too dreaded post-holiday clean up… It seems like we all spend so much time looking forward to the holidays and planning the big events, family get-togethers, and various meals – but before we know it the fallout is here and we have to deal with the aftermath.

Well, that’s what we’re here to help with.

We reached out to our team of professional house cleaners for all their best tips and tricks for managing the post-holiday clean-up as efficiently as possible so you can spend more time enjoying the holidays.

Step 1. Declutter

It’s inevitable. Clutter gets out of hand and takes over your home during the holiday season. However, in all fairness, a bit of a mess is expected. You’re having people over for family dinner, cooking and eating more than normal, buying presents for loved ones, sending over holiday cards, getting toys for the little ones, and it goes on. 

Still, you don’t want this clutter situation to go on for too long and into the following year. That is why the first step in your post-holiday clean-up should be decluttering your house. 

A. Sort through Gifts

No one likes to admit it, but we always receive presents that we don’t like or know we will never put to use.

Instead of accumulating objects around the house, go through your gifts and see which ones you want (or need) to keep. If it’s a piece of clothing you don’t fancy, set a date to go to the store and return or exchange it. If it’s a random item, you can donate it or re-gift it to someone who might enjoy it.

Of course, you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings while doing this, so considering the sentimental value should always be present when sorting out your gifts. 

B. Save Wrapping Materials

Studies have found that 25% of extra waste is created during the holiday season, most of which is from wrapping paper and shopping bags.

While it’s easier to toss everything in the trash, you’ll see that wrapping paper can be used more than once if it isn’t torn or too wrinkly. Go through the wrapping paper, bags, bows, and more, to see if you can save them for a future occasion. 

If you really do need to toss it, at least make sure it goes in the recycle pile!

C. Recycle What You Can

Most of the holiday waste can be recycled. Glass and plastic bottles, aluminum beverage cans, torn wrapping paper, and plastic bags, all can be recycled. In most cities, there are local trash and recycling services. Contact them, ask how you should separate the waste, and take it to the recycling center if you don’t have a pick-up service.

D. Collect Holiday Cards

Last but not least, collect all the holiday cards you’ve received and store them properly. Ideally, you want to have a box where to store them. It can be a wooden box or even a shoe box. Just be sure to keep them all in one place and avoid having them scattered throughout different drawers in your home. You can also put special ones on the fridge or your bulletin board in your home office.

Step 2. Schedule Decor Take-Down

The second step of your post-holiday clean-up is scheduling the decor removal. We all love decorating our house and can’t wait to start dressing the tree, hanging Christmas stockings, and putting on Christmas lights. However, the take-down doesn’t get the same enthusiasm from us. When to take decor down depends mainly on religion and traditions.

In case you can’t take decor down on the date that your traditions or religion stipulate, schedule it at a time that’s convenient for you, but don’t postpone it for too long (unless you’re Summit Maid’s founder, Jacob, who is known for leaving his decorations up FAR too long…).

Step 3. Properly Store Holiday Decorations

Once you’ve taken all the decorations down, you’ll be tempted to throw them all in a box and forget about it until next year. However, you’ll regret this decision when you find yourself untangling Christmas lights next year (or is that part of the tradition? It’s hard to tell…). 

Instead, you want to be mindful when storing decorations. So get some boxes and sort holiday decorations properly. This way you’ll see which ones are up for another use and also prevent them from breaking. 

Step 4. Clean the Kitchen and Pantry

The holidays equal cooking and eating lots (of great!) food, which is why your kitchen becomes the center of the action during the festive season. Once the holidays are over, you’ll have to give your kitchen a much-needed deep clean. Below you’ll find all the areas and items you need to focus on during your holiday home cleaning session. 

A. Clear out the Fridge

You’ve baked pies; one friend brought dips, the other a delicious casserole; your mother made your favorite dessert… That’s how your fridge ends up overflowing with leftovers by the end of the holiday season. First, take everything out of your fridge and sort it out. Then, reassess the leftovers; freeze the food you can and throw away the one that has gone stale.

When you’re done with the fridge, go over to your pantry and see if there are any ingredients you didn’t use and can be donated. Canned vegetables, dried pasta, kid snacks, and canned sauces are always welcomed at shelters. 

B. Clean Large & Small Appliances

Kitchen appliances are also used more than usual during the holiday season. Take your time and inspect each appliance to see which one needs a thorough post-holiday clean-up – these are some of the most forgotten places to be cleaned in your home. Then, grab a microfiber cloth, dampen it in a water and vinegar solution, and wipe the appliances down. 

C. Wipe Down Your Countertops

Now that all the food is stored and appliances have had a solid post-holiday clean-up, you can grab a damp cloth, put a pea-sized amount of dish soap on the countertops, and wipe them down. Given countertops are high-touch surfaces, it’s a good idea to disinfect them. Grab the same cloth and go over them, but this time with a mix of bleach and water to eliminate bacteria.  

Step 5. Dust, Vacuum & Mop the Floors

You’ll finish your post-holiday clean-up by cleaning the floors. Start by removing dust, dirt, and crumbs from the floor. The easiest way to do this is with a vacuum.  If you don’t have one, you can always return to the classic sweeping. Remember to find a broom that suits your floor type and always keep continuous contact with the surface. After you’ve removed all the dirt, you can mop your floor.  

Step 6. Prepare For The Rest Of Winter

When the holiday season comes in, you need to get your house in shape before and after the celebrations. It’s exhausting, we know. However, it may be a great opportunity to go the extra mile, deep clean your house, and prepare it for the rest of the winter – you already have to clean after your guests leave the house, anyway.

Also, winter is a season that poses certain challenges; especially if you live in a very cold, snowy area, you want to ensure you prevent weather damage and related repairs. That’s why we have a guide filled with winter cleaning tips to help you out!

Too Much? Hire a Cleaning Service

As much as we love the holiday season, it’s undeniable that it can leave us feeling quite exhausted. If cleaning your house is a bit too much, consider hiring a cleaning service. Cleaning companies will tackle every little nook, leaving your home ready to start this new year fresh. 


  • Jacob W. Bailey

    Jacob is the Cleveland-based founder and CEO of Summit Maids, a local cleaning company with a mission to make a mark on its community by providing good jobs to more than 1,000 people.

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