• Angie Vine

How to Clean for the Holidays - Room by Room

Tis the season for holiday binge cleaning and stressing out over the judgement of others. Here at The Nitpicky Cleaner, it's our busiest time of the year! No room in the budget to hire a professional cleaning company? Or couldn't get in? We've got you covered with our room by room guide.

When it comes time to clean for guests, it can be overwhelming. There are so many tasks that need to be done and it's easy to forget to do something important. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the last thing you think about is your plan for cleaning. From the basics to project cleans, here is your step by step guide for cleaning this holiday season.

Start Early & Don't Procrastinate

It's easiest to get a handle on things before the stress of time is wearing on you. I like to give myself goals, timelines and an incentive. Maybe you could even give yourself a little gift for getting everything on your cleaning list done on time. Hey, you earned it!

Declutter First

Clutter is what people will notice first and what prevents us from doing the actual cleaning. Nothing wastes more time than moving things from room to room while you attempt to clean. Start in one room and finish it before moving on to the next!

This is also the perfect opportunity to donate any less-loved toys, clothes or household goods. Get the kids involved by making it a game or a race.

Now that the most important step is done, you can start cleaning one room at a time.

Use the Right Products

All purpose cleaners can be a great versatile product for cleaning your whole house. Just make sure it's safe for your porous surfaces like granite and other stones. You'll want separate specialized products dedicated for wood and leather.

What's the best way to know your all purpose cleaner is safe? Make it yourself!

Here's my favorite Nitpicky Holiday Blend formula:

  • 16 oz Distilled Water in a amber glass spray bottle

  • 2 tablespoons Citrus Castile Soap

  • 12 drops Wild Orange essential oil

  • 8 drops Cinnamon essential oil

  • 4 drops Clove essential oil

Project Cleans First

Normally we don't recommend doing many deep cleans, aka project cleans, before company comes over. However, this time of the year is the exception. These tasks are selected to help avoid any embarrassment while you're hosting company.

  • inside the oven

  • inside the refrigerator (toss + organize when done wiping out)

  • vacuuming under and behind appliances

  • shampoo or spot treat carpet

  • wash all windows + glass doors (don't forget the storm doors!)

  • spot clean the walls

  • wash all bedding

Create a Plan (& Stick to It)

Cleaning is much easier when you have a plan in place! I tend to be an A.D.D. cleaner so I stick to a room by room schedule to keep that at bay. Having smaller goals for each day and each week helps!

I clean the whole kitchen, then bathrooms, next I do the bedrooms and finishing up with living spaces. I do treat each one of those categories as a "room", meaning I will do one task in all bedrooms or the living, family and dining rooms before starting the next task. I dust in all the bedrooms at the same time then all the floors instead of truly completing one whole room before moving onto the next. However if your rooms are further apart, I would just finish up in the room before moving on.


Start by cleaning all the appliances (inside the oven and fridge will already be done) and inside the microwave. Then clear off your counter tops and wipe them clean, don't forget the backsplash. Next, wipe down anything you are putting back on the counters. Only put back what is truly necessary, or festive. Now let's wipe down all the cabinets. This is also a great time to seal your granite, since messes are likely to happen in all the chaos. Finish by wet wiping all baseboards and vents before sweeping and mopping.


Start by cleaning the lights and work your way down. I go in the following order: lights, dusting (shelves, windowsills, doorframes, cabinets, TP holder, towel bars, baseboards), mirror, counters, sink, faucet, shower, tub, fixtures, shower door and lastly the toilet (top, inside, bottom). Don't forget to clean your toothbrushes and toothbrush holder, inside and out. I typically put fresh towels out when I clean but you can hold off until the day guests are due to arrive.

Living Spaces

This is where you will likely spend most of your time during the holidays, when you're not in the kitchen that is. So, it's important to be detailed! Dust every shelf under, not around, knickknacks, dust each item itself and place it back on the shelf. Dust all electronics, lights & picture frames as well as windowsills & frames, door frames and curtain rods. Do anything that you know you've been meaning to get to or just slacking on.

Wipe down the dining room furniture, table and chairs. You don't want Auntie Mae to see spaghetti from 2 weeks ago stuck on the side of her chair. Another option is to use slip covers for your chairs.

Be sure to wash any table linens you might use. Vacuum the curtains if they need a little refresh. Now is also a great time to vacuum out the fire place and shine up those glass doors.

When it comes to vacuuming the floors, use the nozzle attachment to go around the outside edges of the room and to go around furniture that you won't be moving while vacuuming. I recommend completely moving and vacuuming under any furniture you can see under even the slightest bit. If there's no time for all that jazz, at least vacuum under it with the hose. Then create nice vacuum lines using this rhythmic method.


You'll want to make each bed with fresh sheets a day or two before guests arrive. I recommend washing linens right before putting them on the bed. Add a few extra drops of your favorite holiday essential oils to your wool dryer balls so they smell extra fresh and inviting!

Simply dust and vacuum these rooms and you are all set in the cleaning department.

Set up some water, magazines, mints and fresh towels for a grand hotel like experience for your overnight guests.

Freshen up

The day guests will arrive, remember to swap out any used towels in the bathrooms and kitchen. Go over the counter tops, sinks and vacuum the floors quickly. Fluff pillows and stage the blankets. Then light a couple holiday candles in the kitchen, bathrooms and living spaces. It not only smells great but it creates a cozy, warm and inviting atmosphere.

If you plan your attack for cleaning, splitting it ip over a few days (no more that 5 days before) it will seem much less daunting! Look at the time you have each day to divide things up accordingly. Start with the rooms that will stay clean the longest in your house.

Follow this plan and your guests are sure to be impressed! Happy Holidays!!

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The Nitpicky Home Collective is a team of dedicated professionals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who specialize in creating beautiful interiors by offering organizing, cleaning and design services. Our team is passionately committed to doing whatever it takes to help you shift from "overstressed" to "overjoyed" by using our 3-step method to clarify, align and design your home. 



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