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How should I clean for houseguests?

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Sometimes you have fair warning when guests are coming over, such as for major holiday events. Other times people drop in with little or no warning. Whatever the case, you want your home to make the best impression. If youíre short on time, here are some tips on how to quickly prep your home for maximum comfort and give your guests a great experience.

Fear not ó you can accomplish quite a bit of cleaning in a short amount of time if need be!

- Walk through your house and think like a visitor. What are the things you notice first that might not look so great? Pay special attention to common areas, guest bedrooms and bathrooms.

- Prioritize what needs to be cleaned first. You can always close the door to your home office, your own bedroom and other areas guests arenít likely to wander.

- Be aware of your guestís needs. For instance, if they have allergies to particular scents, avoid cleaning materials that use them.

- Wash all the bedding and other linens in the guest rooms.

- Wipe down commonly touched surfaces such as countertops, doorknobs and light switches. For the best results to get rid of germs and viruses, use a two-step process. Clean with soap and water first, then disinfect using a bleach or alcohol solution. Store-bought alcohol wipes are good for the second step.

- Give your oven and refrigerator a good cleaning. The oven will probably get a lot of use, so you want to make sure itís in the best order. Remove all outdated food from your fridge to make room for leftovers.

- Check all your bulbs, indoors and out. Sometimes itís easy not to notice a burned-out bulb in an area you can walk through with your eyes closed, but your guests wonít have that familiarity.

Prep the bathroom

You want your bathroom(s) in particular to give your guests a good impression. Give each bathroom they might use a good wipe-down, particularly the toilet, shower basin, sink, floor and fixtures.

Make sure the supplies are up to date. Clean expired medicine from the cabinet. Make sure soap, towels, shampoo, conditioner and a hair dryer are available. Stock the cabinet and sink with commonly used items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, disposable razors, feminine products, allergy medication, over-the-counter painkillers or cotton swabs.

Leave room for your guestís stuff. An empty, flat surface will be perfect for their own toiletries.

If you lack the time yourself, you can always hire a professional housecleaner for the job. Housecleaning services cost between $40 and $80 per hour, per cleaner, and the average one-time job runs between $150 and $200. Keep in mind you might have a hard time getting a housecleaner on short notice if you donít have an existing relationship with one, and could pay a premium for same-day scheduling.

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