"I began the habit of clean-as-you-go, keeping my house clean all the time," says Leo Babauta, a father of six who lives in the U.S. territory of Guam.Babauta, the man behind zenhabits.net, continues, "I clean my kitchen sink every time I use it, and keep the counters and table clean... I make sure the house is clean before I leave, and before I go to bed, so it's clean when I wake up. It's a simple way of keeping your house clean, and I recommend it heartily."Check out some of the gadgets that minimize the hassle of cleaning as you go, so you don't have to start from scratch every time someone comes to stay. For example, Scrubbing BubblesÂ® Automatic Shower Cleaner works with the touch of a button to keep your shower shiny clean and free of soapy residue. The dual sprayer provides overall and targeted coverage, and it couldn't be easier to use.
You have guests coming, so you're on a deadline. Much as you'd like to use this opportunity to sort out all the little toys and papers and craft materials that have somehow ended up everywhere, this is not the time to take on a big stressful decluttering job.Get a few cardboard boxes -- one for each room -- and put everything without an obvious, immediately-accessible home into them. Label the boxes and put them aside for now. After your guests have bid you a fond farewell, you can take them out again and go to town getting organized!
"It's a fact of life that kids have lots of toys, and that they will be everywhere. You will drive yourself crazy if you try to manage them with dictator-like ruthlessness," says Babauta. "Instead, let kids play, but have lots of bins where they can toss the toys inside when they're done. Then cleaning up is a cinch â€” they just toss everything on the floor into the bins."
Look for cleaning methods that will work while you're busy doing something else.
Before your out-of-towners arrive, run the dishwasher with every last dirty dish in it that you can find. This way, you can can take care of any new dishes immediately and with the minimum of disruption when your guests are there. To make sure you have enough space to clean all the dishes you and your guests use, run the dishwasher even if it's not quite full. Ideally, you can fill in any extra space with things like dish sponges, the glass microwave turntable plate -- even small plastic toys and any removable cup holders from your car that are top-rack dishwasher safe.
Put freshly-washed linens on your guest's bed and set out extra blankets (if needed) and bath towels. Fluff and freshen the guest pillows by tumbling them in the dryer on a no-heat setting (adding a static removal sheet if you like).
Be sure to dust off the most prominent surfaces in your home -- and don't forget the picture frames! Everyone loves to look at family photos, so let them see those happy faces and not a layer of dust.Especially if you have pets, it's important that your house smell as clean as it looks. (Remember that just because you don't even notice the kitty litter box smell anymore, it's unlikely your guests will be able to ignore it.) Completely clean litter pans, bird/mouse/rabbit cages and dog beds. Add clean, fresh and pretty aromas by lighting scented candles around your home or using candle warmers. You can also try an old real estate agent's trick: boil cinnamon sticks in a pot of water. They will release a wonderful, homey fragrance.
Sometimes you can't just wash away your troubles. In those cases, try camouflage!
Yes, we know you have friends coming to visit, and there is so much to be done! But don't let yourself get all stressed out about it all. Do what you can, and realize that you're going to just have to let some stuff go. (If you can choose, always do your cleaning instead of clutter. Piles of stuff may be unsightly -- but dirty, grimy surfaces in a home can be really off-putting.)As long as you get the most basic of the basics covered -- clean sheets, clean bathroom, clean kitchen, no bad smells -- you'll be okay. The bottom line: Those guests aren't coming to see your spiffy house... they're coming to see you!
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