How to clear up fast after Christmas Day – 8 quick fixes to try over the festive season

Restore order to your home and still have time to enjoy the holidays by enlisting these expert-approved tips for clearing up fast after Christmas Day

neutral kitchen with christmas decorations
(Image credit: Layered Lounge)

Despite wonderful holiday memories, the chaotic aftermath can quickly bring the mood down. From discarded wrapping paper to wine stains and leftover food, you’ll need to clear up fast after Christmas Day if you want to keep those festive feelings at the fore.

We know it’s tempting, but the longer you put off operation ‘post-party clean-up’, the more daunting it’ll feel. Whether you’re planning to host more parties or you just want to get organized for the new year, you’ll feel a lot more relaxed knowing your home is back in shape.

You don’t want to spend too much time tidying – it is still the holidays, after all! Thankfully, there are some easy tricks you can use to achieve a speedy seasonal sort-out. Combined with a few post-Christmas decluttering rules, you’ll restore peace and calm in no time. 

How to clear up fast after Christmas Day

When you’re surrounded by Christmas chaos, it’s hard to know what to deal with first, particularly if you’re working with time pressures. Avoid overwhelm by breaking the jobs down into smaller, more manageable tasks; strip the tree, box up leftovers, clean and clear dishes, put away presents, and so on.

‘Before the holidays, ensure you have an adequate supply of trash bags, recycling bins, and anti-bac wipes, as well as laundry and cleaning products to hand. Gather them into a holiday cleaning caddy so you can whip around each room without having to go back and forth for what you need,' says Karina Toner, cleaning expert and operations manager at Spekless Cleaning

Christmas living room ideas folk

Photography/Simon Bevan

(Image credit: Future)

1. Toss the trash

Discarded packaging, scraps of wrapping paper, empty chocolate wrappers… clearing a room of Christmas-related rubbish can make a big difference, and it’s quick to do.

‘Challenge yourself and your helpers to a quick cleanup game. Set a timer for 15-30 minutes and see how much you can accomplish within that time. This sense of urgency can make the process more engaging, and you could even have a prize for the winner!’ says Karina Toner. 

‘It’s also a good idea to open the windows and let some fresh air in – better that than artificial fragrances, and it’ll help lift that post-Christmas day stupor, too!’ adds Millie Hurst, Solved section editor at Homes & Gardens. 

millie hurst news writer
Millie Hurst

Millie Hurst is Section Editor at Homes & Gardens, overseeing the Solved section, which provides readers with practical advice for their homes. Millie has written about and tried out countless cleaning and DIY hacks in the six years since she became a journalist, and has worked in both London and New York. 

2. Clear the kitchen

neutral kitchen with christmas decorations

(Image credit: Layered Lounge)

Usually the hub of entertainment over the festive season, you’ll need to stay on top of tidying and organizing the kitchen, in readiness for entertaining if you’re hosting another party. Christmas dinner tends to be a greasy affair, so start by soaking pots, pans, and any serveware that needs it, then move on to cleaning dirty dishes (working in categories is usually quicker). Lay a dish towel out next to your drying rack if you’re short on space.

Unless it’s really dirty, save cleaning your oven for after the festive season. Spritz down surfaces with a sweet-smelling spray, and keep an eye out for any food splatters on splashbacks and cabinets.

3. Deal with leftovers

When it comes to leftovers, you’ll need to tidy as you go on Christmas Day – food needs to go into the fridge or freezer within 2 hours of cooking so it doesn’t spoil, and you’ll need the counters clear for the next round of cooking. Organize your Tupperware collection in advance and invest in a few disposable containers in case guests want to take anything home with them.

4. Put away presents

Christmas living room ideas Brent Darby

Photography/Brent Darby

(Image credit: Future)

You likely have lots of piles of gifts you need to find homes for, particularly if you have little ones. A kid’s bedroom or playroom is one of the best places to declutter before Christmas, so you’ve got plenty of space for anything new – the same rule can be applied to closets, bathroom cabinets, and garages, depending on what’s on your wishlist!

Set aside anything that needs to be returned or exchanged and gather the receipts in an envelope, so you don’t lose them. Don’t wait too long to take them back to the shop, they’ll just end up as clutter, and you don’t want to miss the return deadline. 

5. Sort stains

Ideally, you’d treat stains as soon as they happen, but it can be hard to notice them all with a house full of people. As you’re tidying, keep an eye out on carpets, upholstery, and surfaces for anything nasty and deal with them accordingly.

A natural all-round cleaner, baking soda (buy it at Walmart) can be a really useful tool in removing chocolate stains – one of the main Christmas culprits!

6. Stick to a laundry schedule

Small utility and boot room by John Lewis of Hungerford

(Image credit: John Lewis of Hungerford)

A tight turnaround of overnight guests means you’ll need to be on it with bedding and towels, while multiple meals means your table linens might need washes in between, too. ‘Rotating laundry throughout the day ensures you’re not overwhelmed with washing duties at the end,' advises professional organizer Camilla Frederico, founder of The Personal Helpers. 

Make sure you’ve got a plan in place for managing laundry so you're not leaving piles everywhere (a pre-sectioned laundry basket like this one from Amazon can help with this) and that you’re fully stocked up on detergent, softener, dryer sheets, and stain remover. Be sure to factor in enough drying time, too. If you want to speed things up, try these handy laundry hacks.

7. Give everything a quick clean

farmhouse style kitchen the large window farmhouse table island and Christmas tree

(Image credit: Malcom Menzies Styling Pippa Blenkinsop Assistant Styling Karen Darlow)

We’re not saying you need to spend Christmas with your rubber gloves on, far from it, but a quick whizz around with the vacuum cleaner and a flick of an anti-bac wipe is a fast fix for ensuring your home feels fresh. Add it to your pre-guest cleaning checklist, along with clearing countertops, cleaning the bathroom, and emptying trash cans.

‘Save yourself time by prioritizing high-traffic areas, as well as those that your guests are going to be spending a lot of time in, like the guest bedroom or bathroom, for example. If you’ve got guests dropping in at the last minute, fluffing cushions, opening windows, and lighting a scented candle or two are effective ways of fake cleaning a house – they’ll never know!’ says Jennifer Ebert, Digital Editor, Homes & Gardens.

Jennifer Ebert
Jennifer Ebert

Jen is the Editor (Digital) of Homes & Gardens. Before starting this position, she had completed various interior design courses at KLC Design School, as well as working across Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes and Country Homes & Interiors as an interiors writer.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

‘Remember, Christmas is a communal celebration. Don't hesitate to delegate tasks to family members. Whether it's packing away gifts, taking out the trash, or stacking the dishwasher, many hands make light work’, says Camilla Frederico.


How can I keep my house tidy over the holidays?

The trick to keeping your house tidy over the festive season, according to the pros, is to set yourself up for success. It may feel like a hassle, but getting organized for Christmas and decluttering in advance will make things a lot easier, giving you time to focus on what matters most – making memories with friends and family.

Starting with a clean slate helps, but you’ll have to keep on top of things if you want your home to remain tidy. Schedule in 5 minutes every morning, afternoon, and evening to whizz around with a bin bag, removing rubbish, gathering glasses, and returning misplaced presents to their piles. Clear the table and wash the dishes straight after eating if you can, and spritz down countertops and surfaces.

Whilst we don’t condone spending too much time cleaning over the holidays, vacuuming regularly will keep the house feeling fresh, and you’ll need to prioritize bathrooms, too. If you’ve got guests staying, be aware of your laundry schedule – work out when you’ll need fresh towels and guest linens ready to ensure they feel welcome.

While a quick post-Christmas clear-up and a whip around with the vacuum cleaner is enough to get you through the festivities, there are bound to be some elements of your cleaning routine you’re a little behind on. When the last guest has gone home, take the opportunity to give your home a thorough clean. A tidy space is a tidy mind, so a good refresh is the perfect way to welcome the New Year. 

Contributing Editor

For 10 years, Tara King worked as a Content Editor in the magazine industry, before leaving to become freelance, covering interior design, wellbeing, craft and homemaking. As well as writing for Ideal Home, Style at Home, Country Homes & Interiors, Tara’s keen eye for styling combined with a passion for creating a happy – and functional – family home has led to a series of organization and cleaning features for H&G.