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How To Clean Your Home For Thanksgiving + Free Cleaning Checklist


If you need to clean for holidays like Thanksgiving, I understand! Here is a free printable checklist of what to focus on deep cleaning when you are short on time. #cleaningtips #holidayseason


In my house, the idea of deep cleaning once a year is laughable. With three munchkins putting their grubby stamp on every surface in the place, I always have my work cut out for me. Over the years, though, I have had the same thing happen to me again and again during the holiday season. I want to give you a heads-up to help you be a bit more prepared for the big day than I used to be!

So the holiday starts rolling in, and I’m thinking about food, fun, and family. Then, a few nights before I’m expecting guests I notice all of the things in my home that have been neglected since who knows when. The scramble begins! With the entire day before Thanksgiving dedicated to cooking, suddenly my timeline has become basically zilch.

Then the day gets here and rather than enjoying it, I am rushing trying to get everything done. Forget about joining in on the chatting or even relaxing after the big meal. There is just so much to be done!

No need to panic! Since we still have about two weeks until Thanksgiving, you can get a plan together so that Thanksgiving Day is a total breeze. Here is a simple game plan to get your home to not-embarrassing-status. I even made a printable to make it a cinch! Grab it here, or click the image below!



Get Your Home Clean In No Time

It’s crunch time. Unless you are ready and willing to dedicate the next week completely to get your home spic and span(if you can, more power to you!), then you need to prioritize. Ignore any cleaning task that your guests won’t see, and choose the most important areas to focus on.

In my home, this means the bathroom, and our open kitchen, dining, and living room area. If you will have guests staying with you, their room will also need to be prepped!

Do you best to complete all of these deep cleaning tasks, but choose the ones that will make the biggest impact on your space first. Remember that with limited time, comes limited results. We have to make the effort count!

Also, work as quickly as possible. Forget about being perfect and just get it done. Put on some music and go for it! Now would be a good time to do a power clean with your family.


RELATED: How To Clean With Kids


Must-Do’s in Guest Area:


  • Wash the bedding. Nobody wants to sleep in stinky closet bedding, or share germs. This can be done way ahead of time.
  • Declutter all surfaces. Remove any items that have a home and put them away.
  • Vacuum-use a bit of carpet refresher to help it smell great. You can get it at the dollar store for a buck!
  • If you don’t have a guest room, you will probably be putting them into a kiddo’s room. Try to get what you need out of there before they arrive so that they have a sense of privacy. The goal is to not enter the room if possible.


RELATED: 6 Steps To Organize Your Kids’ Toys Once and For All


Must-Do’s in the Kitchen:


You will probably be in the kitchen the majority of the time on Thanksgiving day, and you can expect a few of the women to be there with you. This is one of the rare times that people will feel comfortable getting into your closed spaces, so be prepared for transparency in your kitchen!

Also, consider getting extra seating of some sort in the kitchen in case people that don’t want to help cook still want to visit. We have a fabric covered bench in my kitchen and it is amazing how many people will join me to chat while I am working away. It’s such a nice difference to feeling strapped with all the work, and alone. 


  • Clear the counters. Removing extra clutter will help with prep space, and make your kitchen more appealing!
  • De-clutter the utensil drawer. Pretend like it’s always been in good order when your mother-in-law compliments it. 😉
  • Wipe down any well-loved small appliances from top to bottom. For me, this means the Kitchenaid and microwave.
  • Clean out and organize the fridge. I would recommend doing this a few days before the big day so that it lasts.
  • Clean the oven! Wipe the front, clean the inside, and deep clean the top with some baking soda. Then, don’t despair when it looks terrible after the big day. You will regret it if you skip cleaning it and your house smells like you burned the turkey.
  • Get the crock-pot and/or pressure cooker spic and span. It’s great for keeping food warm, or cooking it of course! I use mine pretty often, so they need a good scrub down every once in a while. Now is a good time to do it.
  • Wash the dishwasher trap if you have one so that it can do its job.
  • Sweep and do a deep mop a few days to a week in advance.
  • Plan to prep ahead of the big day so that you aren’t rushing.
  • Have a clean-up plan for the big day.


RELATED: The Best Kitchen Essentials to Save You Time & Energy


Must-Do’s in the Dining Area


  • Dust the lighting and any shelving that might be in the room. Nobody wants to eat in a dusty space.
  • Remove any clutter on flat surfaces, and have a plan for serving. Do you plan to serve family style? Buffet style? If you are doing it buffet style, make sure that people can walk both directions comfortably so that you don’t have a back-up. Yep, that happened my first year as the host. 
  • Scrub the table: top, bottom few inches, and legs if necessary. This is the one day a year that people will notice if you have rice crispies stuck to the edge of the table. You could also use a nice tablecloth. Iron the wrinkles and seams out if you want to be fancy. 😉
  • Wipe down chairs, and shampoo the cushions if they need it! Around here, they always need it so if you can skip this step I’m jealous. This one must be done a few days ahead so that the seats can dry! It’s always my “whoops!” task that gets overlooked, and it makes me cringe in horror when I realize that I have missed my window. One year, my mom suggested covering the seats with tea towels. Horrific I tell you! This year my goal is to recover those dang seats with some new fabric and a layer of plastic on top!
  • If you can pull it off without kiddos tearing it apart, set the table a day or two ahead so that early guests get the same “wow” effect. That is always my favorite part of Thanksgiving!


Must-Do’s in the Bathroom


Of course, if you have a powder room or a spare bathroom for guests then this will be much easier than if you are a one bathroom household using that space every day. Assess your needs and take care of them early.

Also, consider that Thanksgiving is a day where we gather to eat, so you might want to clean all of the bathrooms in your home. Just saying.

  • Deep clean that puppy. Start at the top, and scrub everything to the bottom. I would do this a week or so ahead of time. It’s hard work!
  • If you can’t deep clean the entire bathroom, then at least spot mop the walls, wipe the light switch and wash the shower curtain if it needs it. Sit on your toilet and pay attention to the things that you notice are dirty. Then take care of them!
  • Clean the toilet the night before Thanksgiving.
  • Wipe down the sink once more before your guests arrive on Thanksgiving morning.
  • Make sure that there is a hand towel and that the soap dispenser isn’t empty.


RELATED: My Fast and Frugal Secret For Cleaning Floors


Must-Do’s in the Living Room


The living room is the least critiqued area, so it has a reasonably short list.

  • Spot clean your couches with a 1:1 ratio of rubbing alcohol and water
  • Remove extra blankets and wash them if possible. Only pull them out at request so that they aren’t in the way.
  • Clear any undesirable clutter. Grab a box and just purge. You can go through it later.
  • Dust, including the TV
  • Use some carpet refresher and vacuum. A freshly vacuumed room puts the cherry on top of everything else.
  • Bring out any extra seating that you may have. Move furniture that is unnecessary if you need more space for seating!
  • Be sure to have a plan for coats and shoes if you need to.


Extra Tips For Thanksgiving Day


  • Don’t forget to sanitize the door-knobs in your home! This will minimize germs(before and after the party!!).
  • Make sure that you get photos! If you are afraid that you will be too busy, delegate the task to someone that you think will do a good job. One of my biggest regrets is not having enough photos of me and my Dad before we lost him in the car accident. Thanksgiving is a day where you are surrounded by people that have significance in your life. Don’t miss the opportunity.
  • Don’t bother mopping the day before! Sweep and spot mop if you must, but don’t fret about getting every little speck clean. After the first two guests walk through your kitchen that hard work will be irrelevant. I learned this the hard way!
  • Consider hosting a potluck rather than preparing the entire meal yourself. This will save you time and money.
  • If you want to prepare the entire meal, then prep ahead of time! Consider making dishes that can be frozen up to a month before the day. Prep the vegetables for each recipe a few days ahead, and gather all of the ingredients, meal planning style. This will make your life so much easier!


RELATED: How To Effortlessly Plan An Amazing Thanksgiving Potluck


How To Prep Your Home for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a great time to welcome your family and friends into your home. Make the day as easy as possible by prepping everything that you can ahead of time. Remember that the day is all about being grateful for what you have in life. Don’t let the process stress you out-start getting ready now! Oh, and don’t forget to grab your checklist!

Can you do me a favor and pin this article? Thanks!



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