7 ways to make post-Christmas cleaning less overwhelming – for a stress-free post-holiday reset

Cleaning up after holiday festivities can be overwhelming – here’s how to do it while still enjoying the holiday

A rustic kitchen decorated for Christmas with traditional garlands
(Image credit: Layered Lounge)

Cleaning is no one's favorite task, especially during the holidays. But, when the guests have left and the gifts have been unwrapped it is time to restore the order.

Luckily, professional cleaners have perfected the art of avoiding overwhelm when resetting a house from chaos with some smart cleaning tips that will see you through to the new year. 

Here’s how to avoid feeling overwhelmed when cleaning after Christmas for a peaceful home throughout the holiday season and beyond.  

How to make post-Christmas cleaning less overwhelming

When it comes to the holidays, engaging in some pre-Christmas cleaning is a great way to set yourself up for success. Even the most basic of tasks such as cleaning a kitchen or decluttering storage can give you a great boost to maintain your home during and after the holidays – especially when hosting.  

Cozy dining room with christmas decorations, candles, foliage

(Image credit: Emma Lee)

1. Clean as you go

Christmas can be hectic at the best of times, and you might find yourself trying to clean your house when you’re too busy. The best trick to prevent everything from becoming overwhelming is to clean as you go, says Kathy Cohoon, a representative for Two Maids & A Mop:

‘For instance, when hosting a holiday dirty dishes are inevitable but they don’t have to be the focus of the night,’ she says. ‘Wash up as you cook or assign the job to a family member so as you prep food, they clean up.’

2. Keep a stain removal kit handy for Christmas dinner

When everyone is gathered for Christmas dinner and passing sides and sauces back and forth, some spills are inevitable. To avoid damaging your best holiday tablecloths or ruining your favorite Christmas jumper, Will Cotter, cleaning expert and COO at FreshSpace Cleaning, recommends keeping a stain treatment kit to hand to pre-treat tough marks and make doing laundry after Christmas a breeze. 

There are some great natural stain removal techniques you can try too, making them safe for use around children, pets, and those with allergies.

3. Break down tasks into a cleaning schedule

You don’t have to tackle everything at once during the holidays. It is important to take some time to relax, after all. 

‘Instead of tackling the entire post-Christmas cleaning process all at once, break it down into smaller, manageable tasks,’ Hashi Mohamed, cleaning professional at Ivy Cleans recommends. ‘Create a cleaning schedule or checklist that includes specific areas or rooms in your home. Start with one area at a time, focusing on cleaning, organizing, and putting away holiday decorations. By approaching the cleanup in smaller increments, you'll prevent feeling overwhelmed and maintain a sense of control over the process.’ 

Hashi Mohamed
Hashi Mohamed

Hashi Mohamed is the President of Ivy Cleans, a premier cleaning and lifestyle solutions company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Specializing in cleaning, organizing, and promoting a holistic lifestyle, they are passionate about transforming spaces into clean, organized, and vibrant environments.  

4. Consider meals that don't make extra washing up

When prepping for Christmas dinner, you can put things in place to make cleaning up afterward a breeze, such as planning dishes that don't create extra washing up, says Kathy Cohoon, from Two Maids & A Mop:

‘Create dishes that cut down on dishes from the start. Thank sheet pan roasts with veggies and protein or one pot sides. Also, consider asking guests to bring a side or dessert to cut down on those pieces of cookware or extra dishes to wash at the end of the night.’

You can also plan your Christmas table decor ideas accordingly, so you don’t have too many pieces in the way of clearing the table after a meal.  

5. Choose an artificial tree to save on clean-up

Although some people will argue that there is nothing quite like a real Christmas tree, faux trees require far less upkeep and less cleaning overall as you don’t have to clean up Christmas tree sap and pine resin, reminds Nick Valentino, cleaning expert at Bellhop:

‘While I'm a big fan of natural trees, they also have a shelf life and you'll want to get them out of your house quickly before they drop all their needles on your floor. If you're having a hard time getting all your post-holiday cleanup done, an artificial tree is a much better choice.’

6. Use a soaking oven cleaner for less scrubbing

After Christmas one of the most dreaded cleaning tasks is cleaning an oven. With all the scrubbing to clean kitchen grease, it is safe to say it is one of the hardest household cleaning tasks to complete.

The cleaning experts at Carbona recommend using a soaking oven cleaner that you can leave to eat away at grease so you don’t have to waste all your energy on scrubbing. 

Carbona’s biodegradable oven cleaner, available at Walmart, penetrates and removes burnt food, grease, and grime in minutes from oven doors and walls. This no-drip formula is super tough, yet fume-free and safe and effective to use on baking pans, barbecue grills, and even fireplace windows.

Carbona Oven Cleaner | $11.48 at Walmart

Carbona Oven Cleaner | $11.48 at Walmart
Mitigate the need for scrubbing and harsh chemicals with this biodegradable oven cleaner

7. Declutter and organize a pantry before Christmas

There are several places to declutter before Christmas that will make the post-Christmas clean-up a breeze. Will Cotter, a cleaning expert, recommends prioritizing decluttering a pantry and fridge: 

‘Take a look in the fridge to toss any expired holiday leftovers and clean up any spills or stains. Give your pantry a quick once-over to remove expired items and organize the shelves. And label leftovers, so you know what needs to be eaten first.’


Where do you start when cleaning up after Christmas?

When cleaning up after Christmas, it is a good idea to start with either your living room or your kitchen. These are two spaces we use frequently and need to be restored to order before normal life can resume. 

Start by either binning any discarded gift wrap and putting presents in their new homes to make your living room a relaxing escape from any remaining chaos, or degrease and tidy up your kitchen so you can get back to normal weeknight cooking without the stress.

What order should you clean up after Christmas dinner?

When dealing with Christmas dinner cleanup, start by putting any trays and baking dishes in to soak in hot water and good grease-fighting dish soap. While they are soaking, clean off plates you have used to eat from. These will likely be the easiest bits to clean, so it helps to knock them off of your list right away. 

They are also the simplest to hand wash if you need your dishwasher space for tougher trays. Once they are all washed and dried, you can turn to the table, removing any decor and wiping them down if needed, before throwing your table linens in the washing machine.  

When it comes to post-Christmas cleaning, the best way to beat the stress is to enlist other people's help and encourage your family to declutter and clean up with you, concludes Hashi Mohamed, cleaning professional:

‘Share the cleaning responsibilities with your family members to make the process more manageable. Assign age-appropriate tasks to children, such as putting away their new toys or helping with light cleaning. Make cleaning a fun family activity by playing music, setting a timer, and rewarding yourselves when tasks are completed. By involving everyone, you not only distribute the workload but also spend quality time together.'

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.