Keeping things clean for drop-in guests

The doorbell rings, and you realize it’s not a delivery person, but a friend or family member. With a critical eye, you glance around the house with a pit in your stomach. Your house isn’t ready for company! Here’s what to do so you’re always prepared for this dreaded moment.

keeping the house tidy for unexpected guests

Clean on the fly

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.”

Try some basketwork

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.”

Get in the zone

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.”

Set the scene

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.

Get scents-ual

Finally, Summer Gray, author of a lifestyle blog, 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.

Read more

6 Extreme cleaning tasks that take 10 minutes or less
Real women speak: How I clean for company
Cleaning product must-haves for the extreme cleaner