But often life gets in the way, and keeping your home as tidy as you would like isn't possible. That's when we like to rely on a wise old adage: Fake it 'til you make it!
An overstuffed closet that practically explodes the moment you open its door is a dead giveaway that your place hasn't been tidied in a while. So rather than letting your guests see that cluttered space, offer to take their coats as soon as they arrive, and then whisk the coats off to another room guests won't be seeing. You'll seem like a gracious host, and they'll get to go on believing your home is spotless — it's a win-win!
When you find out friends or family are coming over at the last minute, you simply won't have time to give every room in the house a good cleaning. So rather than trying to achieve the impossible, focus your energies on tidying one space, such as the living room. Give it a good vacuuming or mopping, and wipe down all surfaces with a damp cloth. Most important, be sure to close the doors of all the rooms you don't want them getting a peek at. When your guests arrive, invite them into the cleaned space, and aim to keep them there. Offer them drinks or an easy-to-throw-together appetizer to keep them rooted to that particular room.
Try as you might to keep guests in one room, there's a very good chance at least one of them will have to use the washroom, and that's something you need to be prepared for. Focus your attention on the washroom closest to the seating area so you can easily direct guests there when they ask. Although you won't have time for a full, deep clean, you'll be amazed what a few minutes can do. Wipe a damp cloth over all visible surfaces, such as the counter, sink and back of the toilet. If you have a shower or bath in there, close the curtain or door so you don't have to worry about tidying behind it. Remove any clutter from the sink area so only soap and a towel remain. Wipe down the mirror with a dry cloth as well, since guests will almost certainly look at it. It's also wise to give the toilet bowl and its outer sides a quick scrub. A lot of dust and grime can build up behind the toilet bowl, which can look filthy if spotted, so be sure not to miss it. Spray a little air freshener to give the room a clean scent, and you're done.
When it comes to last-minute cleaning, decluttering is the name of the game. All those knick-knacks that have wound up on the floors or counters need to go. Because you don't have time to put them in their correct locations, designate a room that will act as your temporary storage space. Select the room guests are least likely to stumble upon or request to see. Pile all those loose ends in there, and close the door. Tuck any dirty dishes into the dishwasher if you have one, or give them a quick scrub, and put them away if you have time. Think of your house as a display home — anything that doesn't need to be visible shouldn't be. So give the impression of a clean space by stashing anything unnecessary neatly out of sight. Just don't forget to put them back in their correct locations afterward when you have a little more time.
Congrats! You made it through steps one to four and have managed to create the illusion of a clean house. Now breathe, relax and entertain your guests in your (almost) clean home.
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