Cleaning your House for Guests

Countdown to a perfectly clean guest-ready home no matter how much — or little — time you have.

It feels great to have a clean, organized, well-functioning home when you’ve got guests coming. Especially around the holidays. It’s like your gift to you.

Here’s how to get that satisfying feeling — no matter how much time you have. Just choose your starting point on this checklist:

Three (or More) Weeks to Go

Think big picture. Get anything that requires a pro or installation out of the way now. No one wants calamity to strike when guests are pulling into the driveway.

– Get your HVAC maintained if it’s overdue.
– If you have a self-cleaning oven, clean it now. An oven is most likely to break down during the cleaning cycle, so don’t save this task for last.
– Replace any appliance on its last legs. You don’t want your hot water to go out or fridge on the fritz with a houseful of guests.
– Steam-clean upholstery. (Or hire a pro. It’s a big job.)
– Hire a handyman for those repairs you’ve been putting off.
– Check outdoor lighting. Replace old bulbs and call an electrician to address any bigger issues.

Two Weeks to Go

It’s not panic time yet. Focus on decluttering and a few deep-cleaning tasks now, and you’ll have a more manageable to-do list when the clock really starts ticking down.

– Do a deep declutter. It’ll make things easier to keep clean.
– Dust ceiling fans, light fixtures, and high-up shelves.
– Wipe down baseboards.
– Clean out and organize the fridge.
– Wash windows to make the entire house feel brighter and cleaner.
– Toss washable shower curtains and drapes in the washing machine and rehang. Easy.

One Week to Go

It’s strategic cleaning time. Here’s what to tackle now — things your family won’t easily undo before your guests arrive.

– Declutter again.
– Vacuum and dust guest rooms. If they’re low-traffic, the cleanliness should hold with just a quick wipe-down right before they arrive.
– Wipe down walls.
– Wipe down kitchen and dining room chairs and tables, including the legs. You’d be surprised at how grimy they get.
– Deep clean the entryway — and make room for your guests’ stuff.

72 Hours to Go

The final cleaning stretch is on the horizon.

– Do another declutter.
– In the kitchen, toss stove burners, drip pans, and knobs into the dishwasher for an easy deep clean.
– Wash kitchen cabinet fronts.
– Scrub the kitchen floor.
– Clean and shine appliances.

48 Hours to Go

Now it’s time to get serious.

– Clean and sanitize garbage cans to banish mystery smells.
– Wipe down doorknobs, faceplates, and light switches. They’re germ magnets.
– Clean the front door.
– Deep clean the bathroom your guests will use and close it off if possible.-
– Wash guest towels and linens.

24 Hours to Go

Your guests’ bags are packed. Time for final touches.

– Do a final declutter. By now it shouldn’t take more than five minutes.
– Give one final wipe-down to toilets, tubs, and bathroom sinks.
– And another final wipe-down in the kitchen.
– Do all the floors: mop, vacuum, sweep, etc.
– Make guest beds and set out clean towels.
– Plug in nightlights in guest baths.
– Put out guest toiletries so they’re easy to find.
– Add a coffee or tea station in the guest room or kitchen.
– Get your favorite smell going, whether it’s a scented candle, spices in water on the stove, or essential oils.
– Use rubber gloves to wipe off pet hair and dust from furniture. It works.
– Do the full red carpet: Sweep or shovel porch, steps, and outdoor walkways.

Visit for more articles like this.  Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

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