FROM BETTER HOMES & GARDENS
In an ideal world, all of us would keep spotless houses—all of the time. But since that isn’t a reality, most of us settle for next best: a thorough clean the day before guests arrive, during which you organize clutter and scrub each room until it’s gleaming. No time for that? Roll up your sleeves: this is your strategic guide to getting your cleaning done before your doorbell rings.
Make a plan—quickly.
Organize your cleaning plan, and don’t linger on any single cleaning chore. Remember, this isn’t a deep clean. Hit the important areas, clean only what you must and move on. Here's how to tackle four key areas.
Start at the front door.
It’s the first thing guests will see. Make a good first impression in just minutes by doing a quick sweep of the front porch, steps and outside entryway. It doesn’t need to be immaculate; sweeping away dust and debris immediately freshens the space. While you have the broom in hand, pass it through corners and beside railings to eliminate unwanted cobwebs. Clean the glass in your front door. Bright, clear glass free of smudges, fingerprints and grime brightens your entry and lets a welcoming glow shine through.
Make room in your entryway or coat closet for guests’ outerwear. For a fast fix-up, gather scarves, gloves, boots and other accessories into a laundry basket; hide the basket in a bedroom closet or the garage until after the party. Also, consider moving some of your family’s jackets and coats to a more private spot until guests have left.
Clean the bathrooms guests will be using.
A sparkling bath or powder room shows off your attention to comfort and cleanliness, and most guests will pay at least one visit to your bathroom during their visit. Wipe down any obvious dirty areas using household cleaner and paper towels. Give the faucet a quick swipe to make it sparkle. Next, apply toilet cleaner to toilets and give them a quick brushing. Use a damp towel to wipe the floor, and clean the mirrors so they’re free of water spots and smudges.
Clear the counters of clutter. If you have no other place to store toiletries and everyday essentials, tuck them in a basket and hide the basket. A tub with a decorative shower curtain is a possible hiding spot, but guests have been known to peek behind the curtain, so you might consider a cabinet or closet, instead. Next, replace hand towels with fresh ones, and set out fresh hand soap. If you’re using a liquid soap dispenser, make sure it’s full. Also, wipe off the outside and the pump.
Turn your attention to the party spaces.
Banish clutter in the kitchen, living room and dining room. Clear spaces and open tabletops will help guests see you as organized and ready to entertain. Pay special attention to floors, as you don’t want guests mingling on sticky floors or tripping over toys.
Next, address kitchen priorities. Deep-cleaning the kitchen could eat up most of a day. When you’ll be welcoming guests within the hour, focus on your countertops. Move clutter to cabinets or other rooms and use household cleaner and paper towels to give countertops a fresh sparkle. If you have time, do a quick sweep of the fridge: discard leftovers or expired food, and place large containers, such as milk jugs, and nonessential items at the back of the refrigerator to make way for party food and beverages.
After you’ve finished cleaning out the fridge, take out the trash. Do the same throughout the house, gathering trash in the kitchen, bathrooms, living areas and anywhere else guests might wander. Line trash bins with clean liners, and give them a spritz of air freshener or disinfectant for an added boost of freshness.
Get the party area ready to welcome guests.
Quick touches will have your home looking party-ready in a flash. Straighten and fluff sofa pillows, then fold throws and other accessories or put them away. Arrange stacks of magazines and books neatly, and consider putting your most interesting, up-to-date publications on your coffee table.
Just before guests arrive, light scented candles. The flickering flame is appealing, and the wafting aroma is a pleasing party addition. If readily available, fresh flowers also brighten a party setting.
Feeling better about your house now? Welcome guests with a sparkling attitude and genuine pleasure at seeing them, and no one will be wiser that your home was a disaster area just a few hours ago.
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