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Home Alone: 4 Must-Clean Spots After the Guests Are Gone

While it’s been great to invite people back into our homes for the holidays, it’s more important than ever to clean up after the party ends.

For weeks you’ve been cleaning your house as if royalty is coming to dinner. Vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing, and polishing floors and silverware. It’s been super busy, but the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing were delicious and served strategically after the big game or parade on TV. The leftovers fill up the fridge, the dishes are in the dishwasher and your pup has already made the rounds “cleaning up” the pie crumbs. You’ve tackled the mess in the aftermath, and you’re exhausted and ready to chill.

But don’t grab your glass of wine and flee to the couch just yet.

This year, while it’s been great to invite real live people back into your house for the holidays, it’s more important than ever to clean up and disinfect right away, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise. This is especially true if someone is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 24 hours, which you or they may not learn about until after the party. So it’s best to stay on the side of caution.

“It’s always important to do as much cleaning as possible, especially in the kitchen,” says Lisa Yakas, a consumer product safety expert at NSF and a trained microbiologist. “That’s the lesson COVID certainly has driven home for us, to clean and disinfect.”

Need some inspiration? Here are our best tips for cleaning holiday hot spots after the guests have gone home:

1. The Grinch of Germs

The germiest aftermath of your guests’ presence will most likely be found in the kitchen. Clear off and sanitize all kitchen surfaces. You’ve been prepping for the holidays for days, and guests love to hang out there during parties. After you’ve wiped down and cleaned the surfaces, make sure you clean cabinet, oven, microwave, and sink hardware, and sanitize your kitchen sink, cutting boards and utensils.

  • To clean: Wash and disinfect surfaces with a disinfecting cleaner. You may consider an EPA Safer Choice cleaner to start the process.
  • To disinfect: Use a bleach solution of one tablespoon of bleach per one gallon of water. Sanitize the kitchen drains and disposals by pouring a household bleach-and-water solution down them.

2. The Potty Express

Yep, the bathroom needs to be at the top of your post-holiday checkup list. Remember to wipe down and disinfect the toilet, faucet and door handles in the bathroom, along with light switches and the countertop and sink.

3. Surface Germ Scrooge

The CDC offers these additional tips for cleaning and disinfection:

  • Wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect, and discard them after use, or use reusable gloves dedicated only to cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Clean any dirty surfaces using soap and water first, and then use disinfectant.
  • Wash your hands often, with soap and water for 20 seconds.

4. High-Touch Holidays

Focus on all the high-touch surfaces in rooms where guests were partying, including doorknobs, tables, handles, light switches and countertops.

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