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Make Christmas Cleanup a Breeze: Cleaning & Organizing Pros Share Their Top Tricks

Tidying up after Christmas feels like a big chore, but these tips make it easier than ever!

After the wonderful — and sometimes chaotic — whirlwind of holiday hosting, we’re still left with a long list of tasks. And cleaning after Christmas can be a daunting one. From getting rid of holiday clutter to removing stains and stowing gift-wrapping supplies, we rounded up the best pro tips to tackle the Christmas cleanup and start the new year on the right note!

Clean out unwanted items first

“Cleaning up after the holidays isn’t fun, but it can be done,” says Dana K. White, author of Organizing for the Rest of Us and co-founder of Her first rule of thumb? Get rid of any stuff that’s still laying around such as wrapping paper scraps, damaged gift boxes, tattered decorations and the like. “Take a large trash bag and just walk around throwing things away and recycling items you don’t need. Your space will look significantly better and it helps you see what you’re actually dealing with!”

Donate, donate, donate!

As you pack up decorations, make sure to toss anything that’s broken or just plain tired. But if you have strings of non-working Christmas lights, you can drop them off at your local home improvement stores to be recycled. In recent years, big box stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot and Ace Hardware have offered a recycling station at the front of the store where you can drop off lights — no matter their condition!

If you’re looking to donate working Christmas lights, thrift stores and secondhand stores like Goodwill will take them. This is also a great time to donate anything else you’ve accumulated throughout the season that you no longer need like old decorative accents, tablecloths, holiday sweaters and the like.

Eradicate holiday stains

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Gravy spilled on your tablecloth? Just scrape off what you can with a plastic knife, then sprinkle it with enough cornstarch to create a thin layer to absorb the oils, advises Mary “Dr. Laundry” Gagliardi, Clorox’s in-house cleaning scientist. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then brush away the powder, gently rub 1 tsp. of dish detergent on the spot and rinse with warm water. No cornstarch? Baby powder will also do the trick.

And don’t fret if your tablecloth is covered with melted wax from candles. Wax drippings don’t have to be a permanent part of your decor, assures Bret Jackson, cleaning expert at “Wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and place it on the wax for 1 minute. Cold makes it brittle and easy to scrape off with a butter knife.”

Related: 6 Brilliant Oven Cleaning Hacks That Will Make Your Life Easier

Eliminate odors naturally

Once the decorations are put away and stains are removed, it’s a good time to air out your house! And cleaning after Christmas includes refreshing the space, too. After wiping down all surfaces, sweeping and vacuuming, simply open the windows and doors to let some fresh air in…and a little of the honey ham smell out. Even better: Simmer a pot of water with cinnamon sticks, cloves and halved lemons for an instantly fresh scent that will infuse throughout your home.

Related: 7 Genius Homemade Air Fresheners Using Items You Already Have On Hand

Stow away holiday decor

Cleaning after Christmas is a hassle, but so is storing and stashing decorations until the next season! Whether you’re part of the crowd that takes down holiday decorations immediately after Christmas or you’re among the 84% of Americans who remove their decorations in January, you’ll appreciate these savvy secrets for storing wreaths and gift wrap.

1. Protect wreaths in storage

Storing a wreath in a garment bag

Whether you picked up a new wreath to add a festive holiday touch to your front door or continue to use the same beloved one year after year, it’s easy to make sure it stays dust-free in storage. “Drape it on a hanger, place it in a garment bag and stash it in the back of a closet,” says Mary Jo Contello of Organized by MJ.

Not only will this keep the wreath looking like new, it will protect it from moisture and other elements as well.  No garment bag? Place a garbage bag over the hanger.

2. Tame and stow gift-wrap with hooks

Showing how to store wrapping paper on hooks

With the gift-giving season coming to a close, you’re left with extra wrapping supplies that you never used. You’d love to hold onto them for the following year, but don’t know how to store them without taking up too much space space.

“Rather than clutter your closet floor with bulky bins, make use of vertical space to store holiday wrapping,” says organizing expert Ashley Jones Hatcher. Just adhere a few stick-on hooks to the back of a closet door, attach a shower curtain clip ring to each roll of paper, then hang them on the hooks. Plus, keeping the rolls off the floor will ensure the paper stays in pristine condition.

3. Organize ribbons on a hanger

Showing how to store ribbon on a pants hanger

For ribbons, no need to splurge on pricey ribbon organizer. Instead, use a hanger with a removable crossbar — like the kind used to hang pants — and thread the crossbar through the center of the rolls, says organizer Marla Cilley. You can arrange them by color or width. Bonus: Next year, hook it near your wrapping station so you can easily cut ribbon right from the hanger! 

For more smart, simple cleaning and organizing tips, check out these stories:

Genius Tension Rod Hack Makes Your Winter Gloves and Hats So Easy to Find

How to Store Ornaments, Lights, and Other Decor: Organizing Pros Share Their Best Tricks

How to Get the Inside of Your Dishwasher Squeaky Clean: Pros’ Tricks Make It Easy!

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.

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