When Christmas dinner is eaten and the dishes are piling up, it can be hard to know where to start to restore your cooking space to a calm state.
Whether you have cooked for two or twenty, Christmas dinner makes a mess like nothing else but cleaning your kitchen doesn't have to be overwhelming so long as you have a solid plan in place to tackle the mess.
These are the steps professional cleaners take for the ultimate Christmas kitchen cleaning blitz to restore order.
Post-Christmas kitchen cleaning blitz
A post-Christmas kitchen cleaning blitz should be designed to completely clear out your kitchen for the post-Christmas chaos quickly and efficiently without causing you more stress on the big day. Between picking up on some rapid methods to cut kitchen cleaning times in half, and planning your Christmas dinner to avoid excess dishes, there are several great ways to blitz your kitchen after hosting.
1. Make a plan for leftovers
When cooking a big dinner, it helps to have a plan set out for storing Christmas leftovers or dishing them out to guests so food doesn't end up sitting in the way of your cleaning or clogging up your fridge in impractical dishes, suggests Raychel Klein, home organizer and CEO of RayRayBay Home Organizing:
‘Assume that people will want to take home leftovers and have food containers ready. These can be disposable containers, or you can even ask your guests to bring their own if they prefer. Additionally, consider what size container you’ll need for leftovers with the largest portions – turkey, ham, etc. Be prepared with a storage plan for those.’
Raychel Klein started her home organization business in 2020 with the mission of helping people escape the vicious cycle of clutter. She is a certified KonMari consultant based in Seattle, Washington.
2. Prep your products ahead of time
Just as you might prep ahead for your meal, it never hurts to prepare for the cleaning afterward, reminds Amelia Pleasant Kennedy, organizing expert at A Pleasant Solution:
‘Before the event, have plenty of clean, dry dish towels and a few new sets of rubber gloves on hand. Make sure your cooktop cleaner, surface cleaner, and garbage or recycling bags are easily accessible,’ she says. Double-lining trash cans and leaving garbage bags at the bottom of the can make things quicker and easier, too.
‘An anti-fatigue mat placed under the kitchen sink will alleviate the pressure of being on your feet, too, for a finishing touch.’
Amelia is a clutter coach, professional organizer and home life expert. She is the CEO and Founder of A Pleasant Solution and an active member of several pro-organizing trade associations.
3. Clean as you go
‘As much as possible, tidy up the kitchen as you cook,’ countries organizer Raychel Klein. Working as you cook by taking advantage of downtime (waiting for items baking in the oven, boiling potatoes, etc.) by cleaning and clearing what you no longer need will help to take the pressure off once you have finished eating and want to collapse into a food coma, she says.
You won't be cleaning when feeling overwhelmed when you work like this.
4. Get the dishes out of the way first
Removing bulky items from counters and dinner tables is the best place to start to make wiping down surfaces later easier and less of a hassle.
Vanessa Terra Bossart, cleaning expert at Sparkling Clean Pro recommends tackling the dishes right after the meal before food has a chance to dry and stick on.
‘This includes plates, cookware, and utensils,’ she says. ‘It prevents a pile-up and sets the stage for a cleaner kitchen.’
5. Break your kitchen up into cleaning zones
She suggests starting by ‘dividing your kitchen into zones, such as countertops, stovetop, sink, and appliances, and focusing on one area at a time for efficient cleaning.
‘Prioritize wiping down countertops, cleaning the stovetop, scrubbing the sink, and cleaning appliances inside and out. Use suitable cleaning products such as antibacterials and degreasers and the right tools for each task for maximum efficiency.’
6. Leave cleaning the oven for the next day
Cleaning an oven is a gargantuan task, especially when you have had fatty meats spitting in there for hours. It is best to leave this for the next day, suggests Millie Hurst, Solved section editor for Homes & Gardens.
‘Leaving it for the next day will give you plenty of time to relax and spend time with your guests after you have eaten, and allows everything to cool down so you do not risk burning yourself or causing a hazard with cleaning chemicals.’
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.
7. Finish with the floors
Cleaning from top to bottom is a rule every professional cleaner follows when blitzing a space, so finish your post-Christmas kitchen cleaning with vacuuming and mopping, says Diana Ciechorska, cleaning expert. Once that is done and the mop is cast aside, you can finally go and sit down.
How do I stop my kitchen from getting messy at Christmas?
When cooking at Christmas, you can prevent a mess by cleaning up as you go and choosing dishes that use minimal equipment. For instance, once you have cut and prepared all of your vegetables, wash up the cutting board and knife as soon as you are done with it and bin the peels before you move on to preparing the next part of the dish.
While the meat is cooking, take the time to wipe down your surfaces and wash up anything in your sink. Working like this will help limit mess and make it much quicker to clean up after you have eaten.
In what order should you clean a kitchen?
When cleaning a messy kitchen, start by throwing any waste into the trash and doing the dishes (be it by hand or loading the dishwasher). With the bulky items out of the way, you might want to put some cleaner in your oven to get to work while you start to wipe down and disinfect your counters and stoves, not forgetting to wipe down the fronts of cabinets to catch any spills and finish by vacuuming and mopping the floor.
To make your post-Christmas kitchen cleaning blitz less overwhelming, it really does help to divide and conquer, says home organizer Raychel Klein. ‘Prior to the meal, create assignments for key guests (or family members) to do their part in cleaning up – dishes, drying dishes, storing food, clearing the table, etc. This will make clean-up go much faster while still being social. Some of the most fun conversations happen around this time.’
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, 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.
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