Have you ever had company over at the last minute – or maybe not the last minute – not giving you enough time to properly clean your house? Have you ever held your breath during an entire visit, mentally begging your guests not to open the guest room door or the hall closet or the shower curtain?
One time we hid dirty dishes on our bed. I know! It’s ridiculous! It was right after we got married, and our first apartment didn’t have a dishwasher. And, well, the dishes piled up quicker than we wanted to wash them.
My housekeeping skills have improved a lot since then, but I still hate cleaning. And I tend to wait until the last minute to do it, even though half of my motivation for hosting any event in my house is to force myself to clean it!
I’ve written about cleaning at the last minute before, but today I want to talk about how to do the least amount of cleaning for the most impact.
How to Fool Your Guests into Thinking Your House is Clean
1. Get rid of the clutter. Toss it in a laundry basket or a box or a suitcase. It doesn’t matter exactly how you do it, but pick up all those things that don’t belong in each room and get them out of sight. (In a pinch, I use a laundry basket and stuff it in the garage.)
2. Vacuum the main areas. You don’t really have to clean every nook and cranny. And if, like me, you have both hard wood floors and rugs, it’s possible that you can do a quick sweep with the vacuum instead of breaking out two or three different cleaning tools. (If your vacuum cleaner is going to scratch up your beautiful floors, though, by all means get out the dust mop!)
3. Clean up your mess in the kitchen. Assuming you’re cooking for whatever gathering you’re hosting, I highly recommend doing it early enough that you can shove the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and wipe down the counters.
4. Think about coats. Where will you put your guests’ coats? Don’t be caught off guard (or horrified) by the thought of putting them on your unmade bed or in the guest room full of boxes and unfolded laundry. Clear a spot – even if it’s the banister to your stairs or an extra chair in the living room – for your guests’ coats and purses.
5. Make the bathroom sparkle! If you have extra time, spend it here. Wash your shower curtain, polish the faucet and wipe down every surface in the room! Mr. Clean has some new products for the bathroom, and I have to say they are awesome. The Magic Eraser Bath Scrubber is larger and more durable than the original eraser, and let me tell you, that’s a good thing for my tub. I’m too embarrassed to show you before and after pictures, so you’re just going to have to take my word that my tub was filthy before and is bright white now. And it didn’t even break my back (or my arm, which is what normally hurts after I break down and clean the bathtub!).
Mr. Clean also has a new Disinfecting Bath Cleaner with Febreze. So it cleans AND it smells good.
Those are the main areas to clean to make a good impression. Believe me, most people really won’t notice that you haven’t dusted your ceiling fans or cleaned the top of your fridge. And, seriously, if they do? I vote for revoking their invitations!
A few more tips for tricking people into thinking that your house is top-to-bottom clean:
6. Light a candle. Or two. Now, you might remember me lamenting the loss of Air Wick plug-ins at my local Walmarts. I’m here to say that I’ve officially converted to Febreze plug-ins. They are crazy expensive, and I almost choked when I realized how much I hated the apple-scented one. But now that I’ve found a scent I like, I’m mucho impressed with how long-lasting and strong the new plug-ins are. Obviously, candles will work, too. Just make sure you don’t mix too many scents. If you have multiple scents, keep them in the same family. This Friday night, my house will smell like cinnamon (the plug-in) and vanilla (the candles).
7. Dim the lights. Speaking of candles, they can also give your rooms some mood lighting. Which is warm and cozy – and also hides imperfections lurking under your couch. (Or, in my case, cat hair lurking under your couch.) If you haven’t put away all your Christmas decorations, you might think of re-purposing those white lights. Wrap them around anything and your room will immediately feel more festive!
8. Put out fresh towels. Whether you buy new ones or just use your nicest (cleanest, obviously) ones, fresh towels make the kitchen and bathroom seem more put together.
9. Fluff those pillows! Along the same lines, a new or refreshed set of pillows or a throw on the couch can work wonders to brighten up the room (or hide scratches and tears in the leather, if you happen to have cats with sharp back claws).
10. Smile, relax and have fun! Your guests aren’t really here to critique your housekeeping skills, are they? I mean, just because your mother-in-law literally wore white gloves with her winter coat doesn’t mean anything! (I’m kidding, of course. Nobody will wear white gloves – unless they match a scarf or something!)
Okay, those are my tips for tricking guests into thinking your house is super clean. How do YOU make your house seem cleaner than it is?
This post will be linked to Top Ten Tuesday at OhAmanda, and the photo above is by the italian voice. Also, I received free samples of the Mr. Clean products, but all opinions in this post are my own.
I love this post. I also dislike cleaning, though I like an organized home, so it’s only by sheer force of will that the deeper cleaning gets done. I’ve relaxed a bit over the years and have accepted my “good enough” cleaning. These are great ideas!
Good enough cleaning totally works for me. I’d love to have someone else do the spotless, deep cleaning stuff, but since that’s not going to happen anytime soon, I am happy to settle for my version of clean. ;)
We have small group at our house weekly. One day when they came over, the dining room table was all cleaned off and looking beautiful. They ALL remarked on it, and we realized they’d never seen the table! It was always piled with junk! LOL! However, the bathrooms were always clean when they came over. It’s the important things right?
I had a similar thing happen recently, when my mom commented that my desk (in the dining room – the paper/junk catchall) looked really nice after I finally managed to put everything away!
AAAAaaand this is why I love your blog :) I need to post this to my refrigerator door!
Ha! Maybe I need to add a “printer-friendly” option! ;)
my company just left… but I will reference this again! :) I did the candle thing, and quick vacuum, but I definitely need to look into the magic eraser for bathtubs!!
The Magic Eraser is great for spot cleaning, but the Mr. Clean spray that I mentioned is AWESOME. I sprayed it all over my tub and came back 30 minutes later, and the grime just wiped off with a washcloth! I didn’t even realize how dirty my tub was until I saw how clean it could get!!!
I think I’ll try to fool my own family first. That way they won’t think I only clean for company!
Very nice. I know they’ll appreciate it!
I run around with a laundry basket scooping up all the clutter. I go over the powder room with lysol wipes. Makes the whole house smell clean.
Those wipes really do the trick, don’t they?!
“dim the lights” … LOVE it!!!
Of course! And that’s exactly what I did on New Year’s Eve!
I actually like to clean.. I know, I’m weird!!! Sometimes my neighbor tells me that I need to find a support group.. LOL BUT…Mr. Clean erasers are AWESOME!!! Even for clean freaks like me! LOVE THEM!!!!
DUDE. I’d be MORE than happy to offer my house as a place for you to clean! You know, just to get your fix…? ;)
Oh, by the way.. if you catch the wallflowers on sale at Bath and Body works, they smell great and last a long time like the febreeze plugs in do.. BUT, you have to catch them on sale.. otherwise they are like $12 each. I got them for $6 not too long ago, and refills for $6 (they had two in each refill box). Right now they have some scents on sale for $3.. They do really last a month…
My secret strategy is to “tidy the house”. My house may not be as clean as it could be, but it’s usually tidy and being tidy gives the illusion of being clean. I concentrate on the bathroom (like you said), doing the dishes and keeping the counter clean, picking up the clutter and vacuuming the floors. If those things are done, the house looks good!
And the bottom line is that when people come over, they’re not usually checking out your cleaning skills. Most people don’t care. And when you get a bunch of people in your house, you can’t really tell anyway.
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