Even an endless whirlwind of parties, celebrations, gift wrapping, holiday baking, and craft-making will eventually come to a time when it all wraps up. Certainly, during all the hustle and bustle, it may seem like it will just go on forever with no end in sight, but you need to remind yourself of previous holidays and how you ultimately did survive, despite any doubts you may have had at the time. So this, too, shall pass. Just maybe not right now or anytime really soon.
To Clean or Not to Clean: Is That the Question?
While you might be the type that chronically goes behind yourself and everyone else, returning tools and ingredients to their proper storage location, wiping, sweeping, restoring everything as quickly as possible may not help much. Who knows whether it’s better to clean as you go or wait until all the action is over, and then do one fell swoop to restore order and cleanliness to the kitchen, the home, and beyond.
Sound like a job for a superhero? You might be close in your assumption; however, if you spend much time waiting for one to magically appear, that’s time you could be dedicating to actual cleaning efforts. So—the best thing to do is to break it down, get out your best cleaning tools and solutions, and get busy.
First, Get Your Mindset Where it Needs to be
The most important component to any thorough and effective cleaning process is to first perform an attitude check. With the right attitude, the task of cleaning will not be so exhaustive; in fact–it could be invigorating, especially once you get to the point in cleaning where you are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have much less trouble helping a friend clean or organize their stuff because we have no memories or special significance attached to any of it.
Believe it or not, when it’s your belongings, you subconsciously and even consciously go through this whole mental thing with every item you touch, move, dust, or wipe clean. You might want to practice blocking these images and thoughts to the best of your ability. Good distractors are playing your favorite music or listening to a book on CD.
If you like to have the TV on, try to tune into a program that doesn’t require much focus to keep up with the general gist of the show. Make sure you have everything you are going to need right there with you. You want to eliminate as much as possible and need to stop in mid-process to find something like your window cleaner or stainless spray.
Of course, you began all your holiday baking with a shiny clean oven. Right? Oh–no? OK, well, whether or not your pre-holiday oven was spotlessly clean, now is the time to try your best to restore it to as much of a nearly new condition as you possibly can.
The thing is, while many ovens do list “self-cleaning” among their functions, the extent to which manual participation is needed depends on what was baked in the oven and what spilled over onto the oven floor. Other contributing factors can be grease splattering and popping during roasting meats.
Only you can make the call on how much you will need to do toward cleaning your oven thoroughly, but even if you wind up having to use a commercial oven cleaning product, try your best to grin and bear it. If you do need to spray your oven and let it sit, then do this at the beginning of your cleaning marathon, and let it sit.
Chances are, the time immediately following the holidays will find your fridge in its worst possible condition. This is especially true if you did a lot of holiday baking or entertained friends and family in your home.
Perhaps you have a big family–there are numerous reasons the post-holiday refrigerator can resemble an evacuated war zone. Take advantage of this time to perform a thorough cleaning of your fridge. Who can accomplish this in several ways? Some people prefer to clean a shelf, only removing the items from one shelf, cleaning the shelf and fridge walls in that area.
Next, they replace the newly cleaned shelf and all items that belong on that shelf and then move on to the next shelf. Others prefer to evacuate the contents from the entire fridge and then take out and clean all the removable parts. They then replace all the fridge components and put everything back where it ought to go, orderly and neatly. Thoroughly clean the top of the fridge.
Now is a great time to conduct an inventory of your freezer contents, examining everything to make sure each item is still within a reasonable date and that you can still recognize what it is supposed to be. If you are unsure, it’s better to toss the item rather than risk getting sick.
Toss foods show signs of freezer burn or in containers that have inadvertently become opened or significantly punctured. Clean the walls and shelves as quickly as possible, with as little hot water as possible. Wipe quickly so as not to have your rag/towel stick to the freezer insides. Replace everything in an order that makes the most sense to you and your cooking preferences.
Under the Fridge and Outside the Fridge
While this could and possibly should be grouped with fridge cleaning, it deserves special addressing as a separate issue. If your refrigerator has a removable grill near the floor at the base of the unit, remove it, clean it and vacuum the area thoroughly, using a small brush to dislodge any food or debris. Next, pull the refrigerator out as far as you possibly can from the wall and brush/vacuum the back of the unit.
Wipe down the sides with a suitable cleaning solution and dry. Now tackle the floor, walls, and baseboards that are normally obscured by the fridge. You can use a general all-purpose cleaner and paper towels, sponges, or rags…whatever you prefer, but get it clean before you replace the fridge in its cubby hole.
Time for a pantry inventory. Toss everything that you won’t use, miss the date on, or for any other reason, don’t think you’ll be needing it. Organize contents and clean the pantry floor.
Everything else is fairly routine cleaning–wiping, dusting, sweeping, mopping as you would normally, but especially now, get under and behind things more than you normally do.