So, you just found out you’re having company this evening and your house is a wreck. Where do you start? What are the most important things to clean up first?
If you’re short on time, we’re going to concentrate on what I call the Guest Contact Zone. The Guest Contact Zone includes anywhere in your home that your guest might go. Main areas to consider include: entryway, living room, kitchen, dining room, bathroom and any halls that connect those spaces. If your guests have children, you might consider taking a peek at your child’s room and/or the playroom just to make sure a hazmat team isn’t needed.
You have 1 hour or less
If you have an hour or less to clean, then speed, not spotless, is the name of the game. Put on some fast music, enlist any child old enough to hold a broom or put toys away, and get busy! You can even make it a game by setting a timer for 5 minutes or so and seeing what you can get done in each room.
- Take a laundry basket around the house and gather up anything that doesn’t belong in that room. Hide the basket in your bedroom. You can sort the items later. Close your bedroom door.
- Decide which area needs more help- the kitchen/dining room or living room. Pick one and start there. If they both look like a tornado went through, you still have to pick one to start in. Just work fast!
- One easy trick that makes a big difference is air freshener. Whether you prefer the plug in kind, spray or wax warmer, get that baby going. A nice smell will detract from any messes you might not have time to clean. This is especially important if you have pets!
- Do a quick check around the living room. Could people write messages in the dust? If yes, dust real fast. I like using my Swiffer Duster for quick dusting ventures because you don’t have to use any kind of spray. Just swipe and you’re done.
- Check the floors in your Guest Contact Zone. If you can get away with it, leave them. If you have pets or messy children, you’d better get vacuuming and sweeping/mopping.
- While you have the vacuum out, take a look at your furniture. Do you have pet hair and/or crumbs? Do your guests a favor and vacuum the furniture too. Don’t stress about every crack and crevice, just some quick swipes over the major surface area. One dog hair isn’t going to hurt anyone, but they don’t want to stand up and look like they sat on your dog.
- In the kitchen, survey your problem areas. Any dishes in the sink or on the counters go directly into the dishwasher. Dishes in the dishwasher clean? Well, get unloading quickly and then put the dishes in there.
- Wipe down your countertops. I usually use a disinfecting wipe of some kind that gives off an “I was just cleaned” smell without being too overpowering.
- If your trash is full and/or stinky, take it out.
- Take a look at your table. If there are any items left from your laundry basket gathering earlier, put them away and wipe down the table.
- Now head to the bathroom that your guests will use in your home and take inventory. If your bathroom is like ours and is Toddler Bath Central, put any kid bathing essentials in the tub and close the shower curtain.
- Do a quick wipe down of the sink, countertop and swish the toilet. While you’re finishing up the bathroom, straighten the hand towels. Something as simple as that can give the impression that you’ve got some semblance of “it” together- whatever “it” might be.
- Now, go around to any room in your house that you did not get to and do not want guests going into and close the doors. Doors are magical when company is over because you can pretend those messy rooms don’t exist.
You have 2 hours
If you have 1-2 hours before your company is scheduled to arrive, you will do each of the tasks listed above, but you get the luxury of breathing. Some additional chores might include:
- Put away the items you collected and put in the laundry basket.
- Make your dusting session a little more in depth. Pick up items and dust under them instead of just dusting around them.
- Do a slightly more thorough job on the floors. Rather than choosing to vacuum OR sweep, maybe try to do both.
- When you vacuum the furniture, get all the crevices and cracks since you have a little more time.
- Give the bathroom a good cleaning instead of just a spot-check.
- Spend some time in your child’s room or playroom. Or better yet, have them spend some time in there getting things picked up.
- If you still have time, straighten some of the rooms your guests might not go into, but will walk past in the hallway. Make your bed and pick up any clothes that are on your bedroom floor and then you can leave the door open.
You have more than 2 hours
Now, you might have more than 2 hours, and if so, you can do all of the above and put in a batch of cookies! Some other tasks to prepare for guests could be:
- Sweep off the front porch.
- Light a few candles.
- Dust your light fixtures.
- Dust the blinds.
- Wash windows.
Of course, these might be a little bit too much depending on what kind of company is coming over. You know your guests (hopefully) and what kind of cleaning you need to do for them.
Did I put everything on my list that you would normally do before company comes over? Let me know what you would add or if I put something on my list that you hadn’t thought about!