What’s your official day to do your holiday cleanup? I’m sure your answer really depends on when you put your decorations up.  A good rule of thumb is January 6, which is known as “little Christmas.” Personally, I’m feeling pretty good if I get my decorations down by Valentine’s Day! It really doesn’t matter what day you choose as long as you take them down and put them away so they are organized for next year. Once the decorations are down and stored, we can then focus on the cleaning.

Organizing your Christmas decorations

  • You can choose to put your decorations away by room or by item. I like to store all my window and outside lights together as they are the first I’ll want to get out next year. Store all the decorations for each tree together so that you know which decorations go with which tree. Use clear storage tubs so you can see what’s inside.
  • Labeling is very important. Make sure you list everything inside each storage tub so you don’t have to dig through everything again the following year.
  • Make a fun date with yourself (and your family) to take down the decorations. Set aside a specific block of time so you keep focused. Trying to take down decorations in between cooking dinner and folding laundry probably won’t work – you’ll end up frustrated next Christmas when you realize nothing was put away correctly.

Stains and cleanup problems

Christmas has its own set of cleaning problems. Below are some tricks on how to deal with them.

Pine pitch – If you had a real Christmas tree you may have some sticky pine pitch on your carpeting or hardwood floors. Once evergreen trees come inside a home and warm up, the sap inside the tree branches drips out of the trimmed limbs. This is called pine pitch and it can be very hard to remove. To remove it, you’ll want to start by rubbing the area with an ice cube to freeze the sap. Scrape as much of the sap off of the flooring as you can, then use a clean cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol to dab the area until the pitch is removed from the floor.

Water stains – You may have some water stains from the tree stand overflowing. This stain can be removed by using vinegar. Pour vinegar into a spray bottle and liberally spray the entire area. Let it sit without scrubbing. After 30 minutes dab the area with a paper towel and repeat the process until the stain disappears.

Table Linen stains – Don’t put your table linens away until you know they are completely clean and stain free. You can use rubbing alcohol on greasy stains and oxygen bleach for food spots. Once the linens are clean and dry, press them and then wrap them in tissue paper and store them in an airtight container.

Window sill spots – If you have discovered the trick of using white athletic tape to hold your Christmas window lights in place you also are dealing with the adhesive residue left when you remove it. An easy remedy is to scrape off as much of the adhesive as you can with a putty knife. Dampen the area with rubbing alcohol, which works to break down the adhesive. Place a drop of dish detergent over the area and work it into the residue. Wipe the window sill with warm water and a microfiber cloth.

Floors – Your floors will have taken a beating over the holidays between decorations, guests and all the cooking and baking. Plan to give each hard floor a good scrubbing on your hands and knees if you can. Start by moving all your furniture away from the walls and vacuuming the floor and the wood trim around the room. Use a bucket of hot water with a drop of dish soap and use a microfiber cloth to clean your way around the room. Once the outside of the room is dry, move your furniture from the middle of the room to the edges and wash the middle area. Once the floor is completely dry, you can replace area rugs and reset the furniture.

Guest room sheets – Strip all the beds and wash them in hot water. Add a touch of oxygen bleach to clean and disinfect them. Dry them on high heat to kill dust mites and other allergens. While the sheets are in the dryer, use an upholstery tool to vacuum the mattress and the sides of the box springs.  Wipe down the bed frame and remake the bed as soon as the sheets are dry. A simple trick to remove wrinkles in the sheets is to spray them with witch hazel after they are on the bed. You can add a few drops of an essential oil to create a fragrant linen spray.