We have all experienced it. The sudden phone call that says people are coming over. Aack!! The house isn’t ready for guests! Here is my emergency to-do list for getting the house ready for those surprise guests.
Before you even focus on the house, take a quick look at yourself. Are you dressed? Is your hair done? No matter how spotless the house is, if you’re still in pajamas your guests will notice you first. So the first thing you need to do is get some real clothes on. And at least make a quick attempt at your hair and face, so that you look presentable.
Mobile Trashcan ~
That’s right, grab a trashcan, and make it mobile. Walk through your house, starting with the main rooms, (like the entryway and the living room). Take the same path that you expect your guests to take. Pick up all the obvious stuff that doesn’t belong there. You know the stuff I mean. The stuff you were going to throw away ‘later’. Now is the time. You don’t have to clean it if you’re going to throw it away. Dump it quick, and then put the trash can away. Remember, this is just a quick pass for the obvious trash. Don’t start digging out or doing any major de-cluttering, just grab the stuff that really shouldn’t have been left out in the first place.
The Bathroom ~
If your guests stay long enough, sooner or later they will want to use the bathroom. They are going to be in there alone sitting still for a few minutes looking around and noticing all the details, so this room is important. First, take a paper towel dampen it with water or your favorite spray cleaner. Run it around the baseboards of the bathroom. The majority of the dust and hair that gets dropped on the bathroom floor gets pushed to the edges. You can pick up 90 percent of the debris that is left on your bathroom floor just by running a quick damp paper towel around the edges.
Now give the mirror a quick spritz with your favorite window cleaner, and wipe it down with paper towel. (Not the same one you just used on the floor!) You can also use window cleaner on most sinks, so give it a quick spritz and wipe out with paper towels too, to remove any gobs of toothpaste whatnot.
Now close the shower curtain. (Unless your guests are staying long enough to need to bathe.) Check the toilet bowl; grab the toilet bowl brush and give it a quick scrub out. If there are any hard stains, you can actually squirt some window cleaner in there. Most toilet bowels are made of porcelain and window cleaner works on that too. Remember it is not a deep clean; you just want to clean the major spots before your guests come. You shouldn’t spend more than five minutes in the bathroom.
Hide Stuff ~
Seriously! Unless your guests are coming to stay all week, just stash the stuff that you don’t want them to see. If there is laundry laying out, dump it all in the hamper, (don’t bother to sort it), and put the hamper in the closet. If the kids’ toys are out, now is not the time to sort them into their proper containers, just scoop them all up and dump them in the toy box and close the lid.
You can do the same thing in the kitchen. Those dirty dishes you don’t have time to wash? Unless your guests are staying for supper, you can probably hide them in the oven. You can also hide them in the bottom drawers, (the ones that are supposed to be for the vegetables), in the refrigerator. If you don’t have time to wash them at least get them out of sight. If worse comes to worst, stick them right back in the cupboard. Just shove them towards the back, so that you don’t accidentally pull them out while your guests are still there.
Close Doors ~
That’s right, you can flat out hide the kids’ rooms if you don’t want to clean them. If your guests aren’t planning to visit your teenager’s bedroom for instance, there’s no reason you can’t just close the door and make that whole mess just disappear.
If you still have a few minutes, now is the time to vacuum. If you’re dressed, the major garbage is gone, the major clutter is hidden, take a look at your floors and see if they could benefit from a quick vacuum. Don’t start moving furniture around; just hit the major traffic areas, so there aren’t any major balls of lint and so forth for your guests to walk through when they arrive.
The Sniff Test ~
Make it smell good. Now is the time to trick your guests’ senses into thinking that the house is cleaner than it is. Run through all the major rooms with a can of air freshener or Fabreeze and spray it discreetly behind the furniture, along the floor boards, anywhere where they don’t notice it’s a little damp, (if it gets damp from the spray).
Clean smells give your house that nice, clean feeling. It works on people’s subconscious and it makes them think that you must have been scrubbing all day. If people notice it when they come in, give them a puzzled look and say, ‘Oh really, is it especially fresh?’, as if your house always smells this clean to you.
Post this emergency list on your refrigerator, so that you will be prepared when guests suddenly surprise you at the last moment.
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