Those of us who love to entertain have a little secret: We’re always looking for ways to do it bigger and better -- and that includes looking for ways to get the house in such tip-top shape that even Martha Stewart would approve. We’ve consulted some experts on their savvy cleaning strategies for entertaining, and they have some terrific ideas to share.
"Clean the ceiling first," says Jeanne Russell, author of Toss the Toxins. "There is nothing more embarrassing than spending hours making your home spotless and beautiful, only to look up in the middle of your party and see cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. It is also a drag to notice the cobwebs after you have dusted and vacuumed because you're going to have to do it again after removing the ceiling dust and dirt. Make it a habit to always start with the ceiling, and you'll notice that the room seems lighter and cleaner when you're done."
Look through your guests' eyes
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. "Concentrate on the areas the guests see first," says Kristi Mailloux, president of Molly Maid, the professional residential cleaning company. These include the porch, foyer, entryway and central closet. "Clearing and organizing clutter can make all the difference," she says.
Make your house sparkle
As the old saying goes, cleanliness is next to godliness, and nothing says clean like a shine. Wipe glass doors, light fixtures, doorways and knobs for a sparkling appearance. When vacuuming or mopping floors, don't ignore the edges and corners where dirt and dust love to settle.
The toilet and shower are obvious targets, but also attack vents, cabinets, doorways, pictures, decorations and mirrors.
Keeping kitchens clean and bacteria-free is an absolute necessity, says Chef Cat Cora. After all, you don't want to be sending your guests home feeling ill. "When thawing frozen meat and seafood, don't leave it out," says Cora. "Put it on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure to keep it in the refrigerator. Use a glass cutting board when slicing raw meats and vegetables. Plastic and wood cutting boards can be cut by knives during food preparation, and bacteria can hide in these porous areas."
Stay on top of the mess, suggests Cora. "Clean as you go, washing knives, cutting boards, dishes and prep tools after each use with antibacterial dish liquids that kill salmonella, E. coli and staph. Cleaning while you cook will help reduce the risk of transferring bacteria to other surfaces or ingredients," says Cora.