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8 Things to Clean Before Company Comes

No time to make it spotless? These quick chores will leave a house ready for guests

woman wipes down kitchen counter while out-of-focus dog yawns behind her
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Having friends or relatives over for dinner or for a gathering? The menu-planning, shopping and cooking can leave even the most organized event-thrower without the time to do a deep clean.

But just because you are having company doesn’t mean you need to clean your house from top to bottom. ​

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“Think about where your guests are going to be in the house,” says Alyssa Landrum, area representative from Two Maids, a franchised cleaning service headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. ​

Those areas are most often the kitchen, living room, guest bathroom, and maybe the dining room.​

Keeping the focus on tidying just those rooms will make entertaining feel less overwhelming. You don’t need a lot of equipment either. A vacuum, sanitizing wipes, microfiber cloths, cleaning spray, baking soda and trash bags will get you through most of your cleaning.​

Set aside an hour or two (less if you have helpers) to tackle these eight tasks to make sure your house is in great shape for guests.​

1. Do the dishes​

This should go without saying, but nobody wants to eat and drink around a sink full of dirty dishes. Make sure to put dishes away, rinse out any food particles and wipe down the sink. For a stainless steel sink, sprinkle baking soda and wipe down with a microfiber cloth to sanitize and retain its shine.​

2. Clear the clutter​

Putting things away constitutes the bulk of cleaning. Scan countertops, coffee tables and other visible areas that tend to collect stuff.​

“Small appliances that are not used all day can be stored away and brought back out when needed,” says Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer of the Cleaning Authority, a cleaning franchise based in Columbia, Maryland.​

Consider where guests will be putting down their food or drinks. Clear and wipe down coffee tables, side tables and even your kitchen island.​

Stapf also recommends putting out coasters to avoid any future stain marks.​

3. Sanitize and dust high-traffic areas​

Consider which items in your house get the most traffic, and sanitize them.​

“Think doorknobs, handles, railings and remotes, anything that a lot of people put their hands on,” says Landrum. ​

After all, the holidays do fall during virus season. Just use a sanitizing wipe or spray and a microfiber towel. While you’re at it, dust down items like lamps. ​

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4. Focus on the floors

You can skip vacuuming the whole house (don’t bother upstairs unless you are having guests spend the night) and just focus on the high-traffic areas. Vacuum any crumbs that may have fallen while prepping the food and freshen up any carpets or rugs. Vacuum around the doors where guests enter, too, as shoes often leave dirt.​

If your floors need mopping, make sure you leave plenty of time for them to dry before guests come over, so nobody slips.​

5. Check the front door​

First impressions are everything. People may not notice if a glass-front storm door is clean, but they will certainly notice if it’s dirty. ​

“It gives people an indication of what to expect when they walk in,” says Landrum.​

Take a moment to inspect your entrance. A little glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth will make your door sparkle in no time.​

6. Clean out the fridge​

Take a few extra minutes to clean out the fridge. This not only will prevent yucky smells from wafting out, but also will make storing leftovers from your event a whole lot easier.

​“Discard old and expired products to make room for holiday food,” says Stapf. She also recommends buying simple bins for organizing leftovers.​

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7. Scrub the guest bathroom​

Inevitably someone at the party will need to use the restroom. Make sure it is sparkling clean. If you aren’t having overnight guests, skip the shower and close the curtain to focus on the toilet, sink and trash.​

For white porcelain sinks, Stapf recommends cleaning with a mixture of three tablespoons baking soda, one tablespoon dish soap and a quarter cup warm water. This will restore the sink back to shiny white in no time.​

To sanitize the entire toilet — the seat and rim, handles, along with the toilet bowl — use a disposable cloth or sponge to wipe down. For the inside of the toilet, use a toilet bowl cleaner or a DIY solution that Stapf recommends: one cup distilled or boiled water with a half cup baking soda and a half cup castile soap. Spray the interior of the toilet, let it sit for 10 minutes and then scrub with a toilet brush.​

Disposable hand towels are a pretty addition to the guest bathroom and are more sanitary than a communal hand towel.

And don’t forget to empty the bathroom trash can.​

8. Remove the stink​

Your house may be clean, but don’t forget to think about unpleasant odors to which you may have become accustomed. If you have cats, empty the litter box. Take out the trash before guests come over, and have a few extra bag liners in each trash can to make it easy to take out additional trash later.​

Finally, add some fragrance. ​

“Brewing a pot of coffee is a great way to add a nice scent to your home, especially for those sensitive to smells,” Landrum says. ​

You could also simmer a pot of festive aromatics on the stove, such as cinnamon sticks, orange or lemon peels, vanilla bean, and cranberries. ​

Candles or indoor air fresheners work too. Just make sure the scent isn’t too overpowering, or your guests could end up with a headache.​

All set? Relax and enjoy your clean house and your company. ​

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