Test of theme two seven into the portal with no changes to code
Deal with the piles first, like the mountain of shoes near the stairs and the stack of mail on the counter. Starting at the front door and working your way through the rooms people will congregate in, load up a laundry basket with anything nonessential that doesn’t count as decor. Be ruthless—stuff easily translates to mess. While you’re at it, close doors to bedrooms and other areas off-limits to guests (meaning you won’t have to waste a single second making beds).
This is the sneaky part: Throw that basket full of odds and ends into a closet that no guest will ever open. Next stop: kitchen. Clear the counters of the toaster, mixer, and any other appliance you won’t be using and stash them in the garage or even the trunk of your car—this’ll give partygoers room to set down their drinks and plates, since everyone tends to hang out there anyway. Don’t forget to take out the trash.
Assess which surfaces are most dire (we’re looking at you, stovetop, sinks, and toilet) and hit them with a cleaning spray. But don’t wipe just yet—let the product sit for a bit so no scrubbing on your part is necessary. While these spots marinate in solution, empty the dishwasher and add any other dirty plates and silverware. If there’s not enough time to run the speed cycle, throw them into a box and—you guessed it—stow it in the garage to handle later.
You do not—we repeat, do no—have to give every inch of the house the white-glove treatment. Instead, follow the visibility rule. Focus on the spots guests are most likely to notice, like the TV, lampshades, end tables, and any reflective surfaces. A microfiber cloth or even a dryer sheet makes quick work of this (they’ll attract dust, not push it around). So you don’t have to bend over, take a long-handled tool like a Swiffer to skim over unsightly baseboards. Lastly, wipe down the areas you spritzed in step 3.
What if we told you to mop after your guests leave, not before? With company arriving any minute, just eyeball wood and tile floors for obvious spills and scuffs and sponge off those marks. Skip sweeping— you’ll suck up loose dirt faster with the vacuum. Concentrate on the kitchen, bathroom, entryway, dining room, and living room. Don’t bother moving furniture around, but do leave a few telltale vacuum lines in the rug that say, “Look how clean my house is!”
It’s the homestretch. Give the house a last once-over. Swing by the bathroom and swap in a new roll of toilet paper and a hand towel. Flip couch cushions and straighten throw pillows. If you discover stray pet hair, wet rubber dishwashing gloves will pick strands right up. Finally, your secret weapon: Light a citrus-scented candle by the entryway to greet visitors (people will associate the smell of oranges or lemons with freshness). They’ll be looking around for the maid service, and you can take all the credit.
Our Experts: Becky Rapinchuk, founder of cleanmama.net. Meg Roberts, president of Molly Maid. Dana K. White, author of How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind.
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