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Holiday House Cleaning Tips

Entertaining during the holidays can be stressful -- especially if your house isn't always tidy. Make your house spiffy in a jiffy with helpful housecleaning plans, tips, and more.

Housecleaning for the Holidays

Prepping your home for holiday parties or overnight guests can be hectic. Eliminate day-of cleaning chaos by dividing your housecleaning tasks into doable segments. Follow our 7-Day Cleaning Plan and 1-Hour Quick Clean Plan to prepare your home before guests arrive. Use our BHG's Emergency Housecleaning Guide -- simple solutions for tricky stains -- to ensure hitch-free holiday entertaining.

7-Day Cleaning Plan

Don't procrastinate -- start cleaning now. Our 7-Day Cleaning Plan maps out a few major tasks to accomplish daily, so all that's left the day your guests arrive is a handful of last-minute touch-ups.

Day 1

1. Walk through your home with a visitor's eye, making notes of any imperfections you may be used to but guests may notice, such as houseplants with dead leaves.

2. Turn do-it-yourself tasks into a do-it-ourselves effort -- gather family members, go over the plan, and assign chores. Remember: many hands make light work.

Day 2

1. Wash windows and vacuum window screens.

2. Damp-mop baseboards.

3. Launder and press window and shower curtains.

4. Launder bedspreads if needed.

Day 3

1. Deep-clean bathrooms and medicine cabinets (yes, people will look).

2. Straighten bedrooms; remove clutter and donate or store out of sight.

Day 4

1. Straighten coat closet, making room for guests' coats. Add extra hangers if needed.

2. Wash throw rugs; set aside so they are nice and fluffy for party day.

Day 5

1. Clean range or stove top, surfaces, and grates.

2. Clean out the refrigerator, making room for party foods; dust top of refrigerator.

3. Wipe down all large and small appliances.

4. Wipe down kitchen cabinets.

5. Take recycling to recycling bins or facilities.

Day 6

1. Sweep entryway, polish the doorknob, and decorate the entry with seasonal touches.

2. Dust all surfaces, including bookshelves, photo frames, and art. Don't forget the ceiling fans.

3. Clean kitchen sink and dish drainer.

Day 7

Time to party! Here are a few day-of touch-ups:

1. Clean trash receptacles and add fresh liners.

2. Wipe down any dirty areas in the bathroom using household cleaner and paper towels.

3. Wipe down bathroom mirrors and counters. Wipe down floors with a damp towel.

4. Put toilet bowl cleaner in the toilets; brush.

5. Hang fresh towels and put out fresh hand soap.

6. Damp-mop the kitchen floor.

7. Vacuum carpets and dry-mop wood floors.

8. Fluff sofa cushions and pillows.

9. Decorate with special touches, such as flowers or candles.

1-Hour Quick Clean Plan

Now you're ready for our 1-Hour Quick Clean Plan. Check off these quick to-dos for last-minute shine.

1-Hour Quick Clean Plan: Bathrooms

1. Hang fresh hand towels, and put out new hand soap.

2. Wipe any dirty areas in the bathrooms using household cleaner and paper towels.

3. Put toilet bowl cleaner in the toilets and give them a quick brushing.

4. Wipe mirrors, countertops, and bathroom floors with a damp towel.

5. Take out the garbage, and line trash receptacles with clean liners.

1-Hour Quick Clean Plan: Kitchen

1. Damp mop the kitchen floor.

2. Wipe down kitchen counters with household cleaner.

3. Clean out the refrigerator, discarding leftovers or expired food. Move larger containers to the back of the refrigerator to make room for extra food or beverages.

1-Hour Quick Clean Plan: Living Room

1. Straighten stacks of magazines and books.

2. Straighten and fluff sofa pillows and cushions.

3. Carry a laundry basket throughout the house, picking up clutter as you go. Once filled, put everything in its place or hide the basket.

4. Vacuum high-traffic areas.

5. Place fresh flowers and light scented candles.

Emergency Housecleaning Guide: Spilled Wine

Red Wine on Carpet: Immediately pour white wine over the red wine spill (white wine neutralizes red wine). Sprinkle the area heavily with table salt and cover with a damp white towel. After the party, press with dry white cloths until they come up clean. If stain remains, use a carpet cleaner to remove it.

Red Wine on Tablecloth: Cover the red wine stain with artificial sweetener. Within 24 hours, brush off the sweetener and rinse the tablecloth in cold water. Apply distilled white vinegar on the stain if the material is cotton, a cotton blend, or permanent press. Wash as usual.

Red Wine on Clothing: Blot the spill with a clean white towel dampened with club soda, or spray the spot with Wine Away, a wine-removal product available at most liquor and wine stores.

White Wine: Flush stain with cold water or club soda; blot dry.

Emergency Housecleaning Guide: Condiment Stains

Tomato-Based Stains, such as BBQ Sauce, Ketchup, or Pasta Sauce: Dab area with dishwashing liquid, then flush with white vinegar.

Mustard: Flush stain with white vinegar, then rinse with cool water.

Emergency Housecleaning Guide: Coffee or Tea Stains

Flush stain with white vinegar, then wash with cool water.

Emergency Housecleaning Guide: Lipstick Stains on Napkins

When guests depart, separate lipstick-stained napkins from others to avoid transfer of pigments. Remove excess lipstick from napkins with a dull knife. Using a dropper, apply mineral spirits to the stain with a brush. Flush area with rubbing alcohol and tap again adding more mineral spirits, repeating until stain is removed. Wash napkins in an enzyme detergent.

Emergency Housecleaning Guide: Dripped Wax on Tablecloth

Place tablecloth in freezer for an hour. Crack wax and remove excess. Using mineral spirits, remove remaining residue by rubbing the mineral spirits into the wax. Rinse with rubbing alcohol, let dry fully, then wash with an enzyme detergent.

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