How many times have you gotten a phone call from your grandmother-in-law (or someone equally formidable) announcing that she's stopping by in about a half hour? How many of those times have you quickly realized that your house is a disaster area? It happens to all of us at one time or another. If you're like me, it happens too often!
After I stop cursing the fact that she seems to have a knack for visiting when the house is at its absolute worst, I don my super-hero cape and get busy. I'm an expert speed cleaner when I need to be. This is a list of what I do, in order.
1. Clean the bathroom. Nothing grosses me out more than a dirty bathroom in someone else's home. I tend to think that others are equally squeamish about an icky bathroom, so I give it a quick cleaning. I do this by cleaning the toilet, wiping down the sink, clearing the clutter off the counter and, if I've got time, sweeping the floor. Then I consider it done and move on. Of course, I do note the fact that, if the bathroom's clean, the guest probably won't use it, but if it's still dirty, you can be sure they will need to!
2. Pick up the entry way and sweep the stairs. Our split-level house has a very small entry way with a half a flight of stairs going up into the main living area. The entry way tends to collect a disorderly pile of shoes and the stairs tend to collect dog hair. If I've got time, I'll also wipe the stairs with a damp rag. This is the first place a guest sees, so I try to make a clean first impression.
3. Declutter the living room. After the stairs are done, I focus on the living room. I make sure there's available seating, which means that I clear all the toys and books off the couch and chairs. I grab all the toys from the floor and toss them into one of the bedrooms. I put laundry baskets in my bedroom. (I usually have a few baskets of laundry waiting to be folded.) If I've got time, I vacuum.
4. Clean off the kitchen table. If the boys have toys or snacks spread out on the kitchen table, I pick it all up. Then, I wipe the crumbs and peanut butter smears off the table.
5. Sweep the kitchen floor. After I sweep, I spot clean with a damp rag.
6. Panic that I'm running out of time.
7. Close all the bedroom doors. I do this, knowing that Grandma, or whoever, is going to want to see the boys' bedrooms. I figure most people visiting me have kids, or at least did at one time, so they aren't going to be too surprised. I will make the beds if I have time.
8. I look around and declutter anything that might be a tripping hazard or that is a glaring eyesore. At this point, though, I'm usually feeling pretty good that I've accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. The house doesn't look too bad and I have time to make coffee.
I admit that it is much easier to do all of the above since I have decluttered the main living area of our house. I read somewhere that it's helpful to not let a house get more than an hour's worth of work away from presentable. I think I've finally gotten to that point. As long as no one looks in the garage or utility room.
If I have less than a half hour, I still start with the bathroom and the entry way. I get as much done as I can until the company arrives. Somehow, it always works out ok.
Where do you start cleaning when company is on the way?