Kitchn’s Holiday Clean-Along Is Here! 91 Minutes, 25 Songs, and 10 Easy Steps to a Holiday-Ready Kitchen.

published Nov 1, 2021
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Credit: Zoe Burnett

Now that Halloween has come and gone, the holiday season is officially here. And so is Kitchn’s first ever Clean-Along! What’s a Clean-Along? It’s like a sing-along — with music and everything — only instead of singing, you clean. (Of course, singing is also encouraged!)

See, we figured that this year’s festivities are bound to be, well, a lot more festive than last year’s. Plus, your kitchen has probably been working overtime since early 2020. Pair those two things together, and you’ve surely got a few must-do chores before you’re ready for any sort of (vaccinated) company. Wait, though: If you’re starting to worry that your to-do list is going to seem daunting, take a deep breath. We’ve made it all very manageable and, dare we even say, fun!

We turned all those must-do chores into 10 little, bite-sized tasks. To help you along the way, we’ve also included tips, tricks, and, yes, tunes: We asked some of our favorite cleaning and organizing experts to nominate the songs that keep them movin’ and groovin’ while they work.

Jam to B-52’s aptly titled song “Housework” while you organize the pantry. Feel those cleaning vibes with “Walking on Sunshine” while wiping down the oven! And dance along with Miranda Lambert while you pat yourself on the back. You can even do it all along with us on Saturday (November 6) at 10 a.m. EST on Instagram Stories, where we’ll be tracking the playlist and our progress.

In total, the final playlist (and the corresponding tasks) takes just 91 minutes. By the end, you’ll have a refreshed kitchen that’s totally ready for the holiday season. (Don’t sweat about things being perfect. Do what you can in this amount of time, and it’ll be more than enough. Promise.) What are you waiting for? Grab your trusty cleaning caddy and your smart speaker, and push play!

Credit: From Left to Right: Photo Courtesy of Taryn Williford, Becky Rapinchuk, Sara Levasseur, Patric Richardson, Jessica Litman

Meet Our Panel of Cleaning Experts and Song Curators

Ready to get started? Hit play now!

1. Take inventory of your pantry. (10 minutes)

Start off by taking a serious look at your pantry. Take account of what you are low on and what you might need to replenish before you start your holiday cooking and baking. For example, do you need another bag of sugar? How’s your stock of canned goods? Do you need more cinnamon or pumpkin spice? “With grocery store hours changing [because of the holidays, not to mention supply issues], you want to be sure you have food before the season starts,” says blogger and professional organizer Jessica Litman of The Organized Mama. “Also, make sure you have baking items on hand so you aren’t running to the store for last-minute ingredients!”

Organize your seasonal items, such as canned pumpkin purée and cranberry sauce, and place them front and center on your shelves. Now would also be a good time to group up like items with like items (pasta with pasta sauce, for example), so that your pantry is just a bit neater. Do a quick scan and throw out anything that’s expired. This will help you plan ahead, and help you use what you have in excess now, before the real rush of the holidays begins. Finish up your shopping list of what you need and the list of what you need to use up while the B-52’s “Housework” plays in the background.

2. Organize your fridge and freezer. (15 minutes)

While it may feel way too early to think about it, now really is the best time to start making space in your fridge and freezer. Think of all those groceries you’ll be buying during the week leading up to Thanksgiving!

Survey your condiments. Toss anything mysterious, wipe down jars, take stock of what you’ll need to buy. Then, go shelf by shelf in the fridge. Take things out, wipe down the shelf, toss expired stuff, consolidate others. Don’t forget the crisper drawers! Make a plan for anything that needs to be used up sooner rather than later.

As you put things back, it’s time to think about how you can use your space more wisely. Maybe your condiments need an egg carton to help corral them? Maybe your crisper drawer needs a new system? Maybe you need more shelf space? (You can easy get more shelf space by resting a cutting board or a baking sheet on top of bowls or similarly tall items.)

When the fridge is done, tackle the freezer. Empty it out completely (use a cooler to hold your food while you work). Make a plan to eat up what’s in your freezer now, so that you’ll have room to store all of your groceries leading into the holidays. (Ahem, that giant turkey!) Not sure how to organize it? We’ve got a handy guide for every type of freezer!

“Fame” by David Bowie should be playing by now. Yay! Take a second to quickly wipe down the fridge and freezer handles before it ends.

3. Give the oven a quick pass. (11 minutes)

You don’t have to launch into a major oven cleaning job. After all, it’s just going to get dirty again when you’re baking up all those delicious pies and casseroles. Instead, try a quick wipe-down to give your guests the appearance of clean and to keep the smoke detector from going off!

“Use a vinegar-and-water mixture to wipe down the glass door,” says Patric Richardson of The Laundry Evangelist. That same solution can work for the sides inside the oven, if you feel like giving them a quick pass — but a clean oven door will instantly do a lot to make your kitchen seem cleaner.

One more tip: Get out the vacuum, says Taryn Williford, the Lifestyle Director at Apartment Therapy. “This might be obvious to some people, but I have met many others who find it really strange to bust out their everyday vacuum to get inside the oven and around their stove burners.”

As far as the stovetop goes, just wipe down the top, address any spills, and do a quick swipe on any noticeable grimy crevices. No need to do anything more detailed than that.

4. Clean the filter in your dishwasher. (10 minutes)

When was the last time you cleaned your dishwasher? It’s OK if it’s been a while — after all, most of us don’t think to clean the things that clean other things! Just do it now and make sure you spend extra time with the filter (so that the appliance is ready to handle your holiday dishes!). “This often unknown component in the dishwasher should be cleaned monthly,” says Becky Rapinchuk of Clean Mama. “Not only will your dishwasher clean better, but it’ll last longer, too, because it won’t have to work so hard.”

Just remove the filter and clean it with a paste of baking soda and water (or warm, soapy water works fine too!). While you’re at it, use a toothpick or skewers, to remove any debris that has built up in the holes of the spinning arm.

Finally, clean the exterior. If you have a stainless steel dishwasher, wipe it all down with WD-40. While you work, it’ll be time to listen to Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.”

5. Clean the sink and freshen up the drain. (9 minutes)

The kitchen sink, as we know, gets super dirty and can be filled with plenty of germs. Wash the basin first with warm water and soap, then carefully mix a capful of bleach with a gallon of cold water and use the solution to sanitize the sink.

If you have a garbage disposal, put about a cup of ice followed by 1/2 cup of salt down the drain. The abrasive nature of salt along with ice will help scrub the blades clean. No garbage disposal? Sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda followed by a 1/2 cup for white vinegar, and let it sit for about an hour. It’ll help unclog your drain, so you won’t have to deal with any back-ups during holiday time!

Note: Be very mindful about what goes down your drain this time of year. We’ve heard from numerous plumbers that the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest time of year for them because people put all sorts of things in their sinks!

6. Take care of your table linens. (6 minutes)

While you’re at it, now is a good moment to pause and find all of the hidden treasured table linens you intend to use — including Grandma’s heirloom runner. Pull them out and inspect them, then give them a good sniff. Do they smell musty? “Spray them with vodka! It leaves no odor, and they will be fresh and ready to go,” advises Richardson. You’ll also want to use this time to treat any leftover linen stains with Dawn dish soap or your favorite fabric stain remover. Let those sit, and move on to the next bit of business! (When the playlist is over, you can toss these garments into the wash.)

7. Clean your coffee maker, and put away any small appliances you won’t need. (9 minutes)

As you assemble your list of groceries, think about which small appliances you might be using for your holiday recipes. With holiday entertaining, seldom-used appliances can set your kitchen over the clutter edge, says Rapinchuk. She offers this bit of advice: “Reconsider the small appliances on your counters. Do you need them all out? Are there any that you don’t need anymore? Is there a place where you can store them to free up some space?”

If you plan on doing any sort of entertaining, your coffee maker is going to be a definite. Give it a thorough clean and wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth. Clean whatever else you think you’ll use (your slow cooker! Your Instant Pot!), and then find a new home for those small appliances you definitely won’t need (your juicer!). The goal, while Outkast’s “So Fresh, So Clean” plays, is to get your countertop clutter looking good and to free up as much counter space as possible, so that you have more room to work.

8. Declutter and re-home at least five things. (9 minutes)

Speaking of clutter! Every last one of us can afford to declutter a bit — especially right now. YouTuber cleaning expert Sara Levasseur of Simple Homemaking agrees. “It’s a great time to declutter! We accumulate a lot of things during the holidays — decor and gifts, so I like to make space for the new things by getting rid of items that I’m no longer using,” she says.

Your assignment, as “Good Day” plays, is to find at least five things in your kitchen that you can either part with entirely or store somewhere else. If you’re worried about donating or tossing something that you might end up missing, put these items in a box and store it in a closet, garage, or basement. If you haven’t needed a tool by the end of the holiday season, you’re safe to donate it for sure.

9. Give everything a good wipe. (10 minutes)

Good news: You’re almost done! More good news: Harry Styles is about to come up! While you’re dancing around (it’s seriously impossible not to get your toes a tappin’ while our cleaning list plays!), give all the surfaces a good wipe. That includes countertops, cabinets, floors, and even your toe kicks and baseboards.

The focus here should be on your cabinets, as they are probably way greasier than you realize. For this, we vote for Dawn dish soap, which cuts through grease on dishes and lots of other surfaces. Mix up some warm, soapy water and use a microfiber cloth to clean off grease and grime.

Next, wipe down your countertops, moving things out of the way as you work. Swipe your kitchen table and all the chairs with a damp rag. Dust off the baseboards (grab a dryer sheet for this!), and then sweep the floors. While you’re working down there, pay extra-close attention to the toe kicks. “I’m a generally tidy person, but I got down on the floor of my kitchen to look at the toe kicks, and they were actually really filthy,” admits Williford. “And even filthier was the very bottom of my cabinet doors!”

10. Reward yourself! (2 minutes)

The best part of cleaning (even if it’s a tiny task!) is how good it feels when you’re done! Crossing these chores off your list leading into the holidays can help you feel in control and a sense of calm. The rest of your house might be a mess, but at least you’ve got the most important room in the house ready! Plus, you got to groove to our playlist! So, with Miranda Lambert’s “It All Comes Out in the Wash” playing in the background, take a look around your kitchen and pat yourself on the back.

Next, add a little extra joy to your kitchen. Head outside and treat yourself to pretty, seasonal flowers to put in a small vase for your table or counter. Or spend time researching which low-maintenance houseplant, such as an attractive ZZ plant or ponytail palm, would look darling sitting on a windowsill or on a shelf. Figure out the best “little home” to display your new reward. You’ll be sprucing up the kitchen for the guests while also gifting yourself with cheerful greenery!

That’s it! You did it! Now, feel free to replay the playlist while you grocery shop or start your holiday cooking.

Do you have any cleaning tips to share about how you get ready for the holidays? Tell us in the comments below.