Living in a small country town has taught writer Debbie Johnson to be prepared for unexpected guests. "I've had to adjust to the local custom of drop-in visitors at any time of day," she says. "So, here's what I do: I clean as I go. If I notice the bathroom mirror looks a bit spotted, I wipe it with my towel. I sweep the wood floors every morning, and Friday mornings are for cleaning the things that have been bugging me all week. I pick just one thing and attack it. Just doing one thing a week keeps everything ship-shape."
Amy Bates, owner of Merry Maids in Tulsa, Oklahoma, says the laundry basket trick works every time. "Go to each room and pick up clutter and put it in the basket," she suggests. "Then, get a trash bag, go to each room and get the trash. Do a quick dust and vacuum."
"Fly Lady offers one of the best solutions for getting rid of clutter and then keeping it company-clean by teaching zone cleaning," says Abby Harrison, a longtime reader of the free popular homecleaning website. "Each week is a different zone for focused cleaning (one week the living room, another the master bedroom, etc.). She offers daily testimonials about how this has changed someone's life, encouraging efforts without guilt."
If you're lucky enough to get a call before the drop-in, deploy the "Set the Scene" tactic, suggests Pam Guyer of Hipp Moms. It involves just 15 minutes of surface cleaning. If the family is home, get them involved. Kids love races, so set the timer and put the clan to work -- and maybe next time, they'll think twice before leaving those messes behind.
Finally, Summer Gray, author of a lifestyle blog ReneRouge.co, says, "Candles are absolutely mandatory. The house always should smell like you're in a garden full of fragrant flowers. Lavender, vanilla and spice are all wonderful scents for this purpose. Don't forget to place one in the bathrooms!" Your guests will be so intrigued by your nicely scented home that they won't even notice a little dust here or there.
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