On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me… three steam mops, two rubber gloves and a vacuum with accessories. Yes, this is a time of year when cleaning a family home can become a major operation — and a major nuisance.
Let’s face it, no one wants to spend valuable family time scrubbing floors and polishing tables at this time of year. But the combination of visitors, food, drink and revelry makes cleaning more difficult — and important — than ever.
But don’t worry. Santa has a few gifts for you. As long as you’ve been good all year, you can look forward to a cleaner Christmas. And you won’t need to sacrifice too much of your precious time to achieve it.
Cleaning at Christmas is all about cleaning smart, and not longer. As long as you have a versatile vacuum cleaner, the right cleaning agents and a full complement of cleaning tools, you’re covered for the season. And to make your life even easier, these 12 cleaning hacks of Christmas are just waiting to be exploited.
1. Clean tree ornaments with a brush
The average Christmas tree is a magnet for dust, yet most of us never think about cleaning our own. If you notice dust starting to accumulate on your baubles and tinsel, there are a few safe ways to remove it. For example, to remove dust from fragile ornaments, use a small artist’s brush. If you need to remove dust from tinsel or three branches, pop a pair of tights over the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner’s long crevice attachment. And be sure to use the gentlest setting. This should grab the dust without sucking up half your tree.
2. Minimise the disruption caused by a real tree
While an artificial Christmas tree is convenient and clean, it simply can’t replicate the natural beauty of a real one. If you’re worried about needles and tree sap, don’t be — there are some simple ways to manage both.
Rather than vacuuming tree needles from the floor, wrap some packing tape around your hand, and press it onto the floor. The needles should stick to the tape without too much effort. Do this every morning to keep the worst of the mess at bay.
Another problem caused by Christmas trees is sap. And when a carpet is involved, the issue can become seriously annoying. The best way to tackle the problem is to harden the sap before trying to gently scrape it off your carpet. You can do this with a little alcohol or hand sanitiser. You can also use hairspray or ice. Wait for the sap to harden, and chip away at it with a blunt spoon.
Tip: Minimise needle loss by keeping your tree hydrated with lots of water.
3. Polish Christmas cutlery with baking soda
The key to creating a stunning Christmas table is paying attention to the small details. One of the most important of those details is the state of your cutlery. It should shine as bright as the Christmas star, otherwise your table will never look as good as it could.
Whether you’re cleaning silver or steel, a solution of baking soda, hot water and salt should give your cutlery an added shine. Soak your knives, spoons and forks in the solution overnight. In the morning, clean them using aluminium foil. You can then complete the process by polishing everything dry with a clean microfibre cloth.
4. Set up Christmas rubbish bins
In order to keep your home clean and tidy throughout the Christmas period, you need to ensure everyone is taking care of their own mess. And a good way to make that happen is by placing boxes in every room. For example, in your dining room, you should have a large rubbish box by your dining table. In your living room, it should be where presents are opened.
You don’t need to buy bins from the store, however. Just get your hands on some old cardboard boxes. To make them look festive, wrap them like a gift, ensuring the top is open.
5. Take care of your oven as soon as your turkey has been devoured
Whether you’re cooking turkey, beef or a vegetarian alternative this Christmas, the chances are your oven is going to be a mess afterwards. The sooner you clean it, the easier the process will be. Wait until the oven is just warm to stay safe. Just after eating might be the perfect time.
Quickly mix some baking soda with water and lemon juice to form a paste. Apply the paste to all the interior surfaces of your oven, and leave it overnight. The morning after the big day, rinse the paste off and wipe out the oven with a clean, microfibre cloth.
6. Remove greasy fingerprints with chalk
There’s a lot of grease around at Christmas, particularly if your family is partial to festive favourites such as turkey and pigs in blankets. If you have kids in the home, you’ll probably find lots of greasy fingerprints on glass, tables, handles and doors. To remove festive grease quickly, rub some chalk over the area before leaving it for a few minutes. Remove the chalk with a microfibre cloth, and the grease should be removed with it.
7. Remove wax with heat
There’s something magical about lighting candles at Christmas. But the downside to this festive ritual is often accumulations of melted wax. And when it lands on a carpet or upholstered furniture, it can become very difficult to remove.
The next time you notice melted wax on your carpet, start by removing as much as you can with a blunt spoon. Place a paper towel over what remains, and blow warm air over it with a hairdryer. The wax should soften and transfer from the fabric to the paper.
8. Pick up gift wrap mess in a flash
The constant opening of presents over the Christmas period can cause a lot of mess. And it’s mess that isn’t always easy to clean up. Tiny bits of wrapping paper, packaging, polystyrene and tape can accumulate very quickly unless you’re on top of the situation. A quick way to clean up after a gift-giving session involves sticky tape. Simply wrap some around your hand, and press down on the affected areas. These annoying fragments should stick to your hand without any fuss or effort.
9. Wash dishes by hand
If you like to bring out your finest china at Christmas (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) you need to take a little extra care with dishwashing. Keep your dishwasher for pans and robust utensils, and hand wash all of your china and glass items. Make sure you have everything you need by the sink from day one, and wash as you go.
10. Add a touch of cinnamon
Cinnamon is one of those smells that will always be linked to Christmas. Not only does it emit a stunning aroma, it masks some of the more unwanted odours at this time of year — such as grease. Sprinkle a little cinnamon powder on your carpets before you vacuum them. And boil up some cinnamon sticks in the kitchen every morning.
11. Clean with vinegar
Your home should be filled with enticing aromas at Christmas. It shouldn’t smell of cleaning products or bleach. Instead of using store-bought cleaning agents at this time of year, create your own solution of water and white vinegar in equal parts. You can add a little lemon juice or your favourite essential oils to create a pleasant aroma. Use this solution to clean your windows, indoor surfaces and kitchen appliances.
12. Make cleaning part of the festive fun
No one wants to clean at this time of year, but keeping your home clean and tidy is a crucial part of creating the perfect family Christmas. Incentivise yourself and your family by making festive cleaning duties fun. For example, you can have a cleaning party with festive rewards for the most productive cleaners. Or you can simply blast Christmas tunes out as you mop floors and remove festive stains from your best carpet.
Don’t spend more time cleaning your home at Christmas than is absolutely necessary. Adopt these cleaning hacks in your own home to ensure you and your family can spend lots of quality time together.