Say Goodbye to the Post-Holiday Mess

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The holidays are over. There is a silvery strand of tinsel entwined in your hair; a mysterious brownish-red stain blemishing the living room carpet; and a blob of baked-on gunk covering the bottom of the stove. In the kitchen, a tower of dishes leans precariously. And it seems that someone used the three-berry dessert you served to create a beautiful finger painting on the bedroom wall. Everyone had way too much fun.

Now it's time to face the remains of the year-end bubbly party and its raucous guests.

The Maids, the only franchised residential cleaning service to clean for health using environmentally preferable products, offers some tips to ease you out of the mess and happily into the New Year.

1. Put the house back in order.

Pick up any trash or food left around the house and take out the garbage.

If you didn't think to do it the night before, run the dishwasher and hand-wash all of the other plates, wine glasses and serving dishes. If you need to, fill sticky pans with warm water and dish soap and let them soak for 20 minutes or so to make cleaning easier.

Walk through all of the rooms where guests congregated and wipe clean any tables or other surfaces where food or sticky fingers may have landed. In most cases a warm water/soap mixture will do the job. Be sure to wipe surfaces dry before you move on.

2. Accidents happen.

A few spills are inevitable during any party. Most stains – berries, alcoholic beverages, gravy and other foods – are water soluble and can be removed by blotting up the stain, working from the outside of the spot inward. Clean using a simple solution of about a teaspoon of non-bleach detergent or white vinegar mixed with a quart (32 ounces) of cool water. Use only a small amount of the solution at a time, rinsing and drying as you go, making sure food dyes or other coloring doesn't spread to clean areas of the carpet.

More stubborn stains – wine, vomit, tea – may need an extra treatment, but you should know what your carpet is made of before trying out products that contain bleach or ammonia.

At least once a year – and now might be a perfect time -- consider having the carpets cleaned professionally or rent a steam cleaner and do the job yourself.

3. It's still Thanksgiving in the refrigerator.

If you haven't used all of the leftovers and you've actually forgotten just what those containers in the way back of the shelf carry, spend a few minutes cleaning out and reorganizing the refrigerator. Toss what you won't eat and plan your menus around what's left.  While you are at it, wipe down shelves, paying particular attention to spills or sticky spots.

4. Tidy up the oven.

Luckily, most modern ovens make clean-up a snap.

Self-cleaning ovens use high heat to burn off spills and stains. Try to wipe away the spill using a warm water/vinegar or dishwashing soap mixture. Never use metal utensils or other items to try to scrape away baked-on food. Remove any racks or other items from inside the oven and set the oven to clean. The process usually takes anywhere from two to six hours. Once the process is complete, allow the oven to cool. The high heat will have turned any food and stains into ash. Wipe the residue away with a damp sponge or cloth.

Because continuous-clean ovens perform the chore regularly, most spills and stains do not bake on. Simply wipe the interior of the oven with warm water and dishwashing soap or vinegar.

5. Goodbye decor.

If you don't already have an organizational strategy for all the Santas, lights and mistletoe now gracing your home, develop one now. Save boxes or purchase enough containers to house all holiday decorations. When you are ready to put them away, label each box with the contents so next year's job will be easier.