5 Things You Should Always Clean Before Guests Arrive

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Instead of trying to do it all, focus on the things that leave the biggest impression.

Whenever guests come over, there is usually a frantic rush to make sure that the house is presentable. I try not to obsess over it too much – my life is filled with kids, toys, and noisy chaos and visitors need to accept that – but neither do I want to feel embarrassed about the state of my home.

I've realized over the years that it's best to focus on a few key areas of the home, rather than attempt to do it all. When those dirty hot spots are taken care of, the rest of the mess ceases to matter.

So what are those key areas? I know what bugs me when I go into someone else's house, but it's helpful to get an objective perspective. Apartment Therapy did a writeup on "what other people said they notice about your messy home" and I'd like to highlight below some of the points made in that article, along with my own opinions on what should always be kept clean. In no particular order:

1. The sink

Wash the dishes, always, and please empty the drain trap while you're at it. Not only will it make your next meal prep more pleasant, but no one should be subjected to looking at the encrusted detritus of bygone meals. As Emily Ley said, "There’s nothing like walking into someone’s kitchen and having to wash your hands over the cereal they ate that morning."

2. Hand towels

If your hand towel has been hanging in the bathroom for more than a day before guests arrive, change it out for a fresh one. Most people do not like drying their hands on a towel that feels less than clean, and they certainly don't want to go looking for a dish towel to do the job.

3. The toilet

Oh, the toilet. This is a very important one. If you do nothing else, be sure to check on the state of the toilet before a guest uses your bathroom. Give it a scrub and quick wipe-down (especially if you have little boys!). Get rid of any marks and odor. Make sure there's toilet paper and a plunger handy.

4. The trash can

Kind of like the sink full of dirty dishes, it's a real turnoff to see someone's overflowing trash can and even worse if you can smell it. Take out the trash and put a fresh bag in whenever someone's coming. It makes such a difference. The same goes for the recycling and compost bin.

5. The general smell

I am very sensitive to smells and once spent a painful few days in a house that reeked of animal urine, while the owner remained oblivious. Now I make a point of airing out my own house on a regular basis, always keeping a couple windows cracked to ensure fresh air gets in, vacuuming and mopping regularly, using a fan, and removing smelly trash bags immediately. This is even more crucial for pet owners.

What are the first things you notice when you walk into a messy home?