Nothing supercharges your motivation to whip your home into tip-top shape faster than the impending arrival of out-of-town guests. But once your place has reached pristine condition, keeping it that way for the duration of your company’s stay is a whole other story. With a house full of people, your surroundings can easily deteriorate from immaculately clean into mess and mayhem.
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Since you don’t necessarily want to follow people around with a vacuum cleaner, what you need is a game plan. Having a few strategies up your sleeve will allow you to maintain a clean home without your guests so much as noticing that you’re picking up around them. Here are five tips to set you up for a low-stress, no-mess visit, so you can focus on enjoying the festivities!
The best time to clean without drawing your guests’ attention to it is while they are sleeping. If you wake up an hour before they do, you’ll be able to clean unencumbered — and without making your guests feel like they’re in the way.
Utilize this time for larger cleaning tasks like loading and unloading the dishwasher, emptying the garbage, or mopping the floor. This is also a great time to give the bathrooms a once over, and make sure they’re stocked with toilet paper, soap, and fresh towels. Just avoid vacuuming if at all possible (sweep with a broom instead), since you wouldn’t want to disturb their slumber. By giving yourself a head start in the morning, you’ll begin each day with a clean slate.
Focus on decluttering the common areas.
Of course, you’ll want to ensure all of the bedrooms are clean upon their arrival, especially if they’ve never visited before and may be expecting a house tour. But once they’ve settled in, simply keep the bedroom doors closed (they’ll be none the wiser if they’re clean or not), and shift your focus to the gathering areas. These are the spaces where you will spend the most time together, such as the dining room, family room, and kitchen — and where most messes are likely to accumulate.
Since you probably already did a deep clean of these spaces, simply focus on keeping them clear of clutter. Fold any throw blankets, straighten up the coffee table, and clear away any dishes. Concentrating your efforts on decluttering these high-traffic areas will keep the mess to a minimum.
Make space for your guests’ belongings.
Things can easily get cluttered once other people bring their personal belongings into your home. If your guests have nowhere to put their stuff, they’ll inevitably be forced to leave it strewn across dressers, nightstands, or worse, the floor. Not only does this create messy living conditions within your guest quarters, it could also leave your visitors feeling like they’re being bad house guests.
This is why it’s your duty as the host to clear some space in the closet and empty a drawer out, so your guests don’t have to live out of their suitcases. And to avoid a pile-up of coats and shoes near the front door, don’t forget to accommodate some space for them in the entryway as well — a few extra hangers and a small basket or tray for shoes works wonders.
Do two 15-minute power cleaning sessions.
During the times of the day when your guests are otherwise occupied, such as when they’re showering or getting dressed, do a quick sweep around the house. It should take you no more than 15 minutes. Pick up any clutter, wipe down high-touch surfaces, and sweep up any crumbs. By doing two 15-minute power sessions throughout the day, it’s easy to stay on top of the small messes before they balloon into a big one.
Strategize a few hidden stash areas.
Even if you’re a super organized person, it’s still a great idea to designate a few hidden areas around the house where you can quickly stash items while you’re busy entertaining guests. These include things that have a tendency to get scattered about, like incoming mail, books, papers, magazines, toys, and games.
Whether it’s a drawer, a cabinet, or a full-on closet, find a few spots where you can store things in a pinch during your 15-minute power cleaning sessions. Just don’t forget to relocate them to their proper spot once your guests have left.