Full disclosure, I hate cleaning. No really, I do. I hate how it makes my allergies flare up, the time it takes, and well, just about everything about it. But while I dislike cleaning, I do enjoy having guests in my home, and so I'm left in a bit of a pickle unless I want to spend a small fortune on a daily housekeeper. After a friend commented over the weekend that my place always looks "sooo tidy," I knew I had to share my tips.
Here are the little things I do every day to keep my house guest-ready without going insane.
- Wipe down surfaces. Few things gross me out more as a guest than hairy, food messy counters and mirrors. It doesn't take long to wipe down surfaces, but it makes a big difference. I put myself in the habit of doing this every morning after getting ready so that I don't have to do a last minute dash before guests arrive.
Use baskets strategically. I use the same assortment of items every day in my bathroom, so to keep things on the side of perpetually tidy, I store these when I'm not using them in one pretty to look at basket. This saves me time in the morning, and also looks nicer than having an array of lotions and such on the counter.
- Sweep after a mess. I have hardwood floors in my apartment, so when I make a mess after a meal or cooking or some other sort of spill, I sweep or vacuum with my little Swiffer immediately. I found that if I took the time to this right away after the mess, my floors generally always look nice and clean.
- Wash dishes immediately. Along the same lines of the sweeping after a mess, I wash dishes immediately after cooking (sometimes even before eating). Piles of dishes in the sink are unsightly and often smelly (also a bug issue) and by taking care of these right away it keeps kitchen messes under control, which is key for me since the kitchen is the first thing visitors see when they enter my home.
- Crack a window. Lately the weather has been fluctuating quite a bit, but even on the very coldest of days, I try to crack at least one window a day to let some fresh air in. This is not only nicer for guests, but it's also much nicer for all the regular inhabitants of the home... stale air is so stale.
- Throw the throw. Due to years of living with dogs, I have embraced the concept of using the throw blanket to cover light colored furniture. This gives the dogs something cozy, but lets me quickly toss the blanket aside and replace it right before a guest arrives who might not wish to be covered in dog hair.
- Use fresh flowers strategically. One of the biggest things I miss about NYC is the bodegas and the inexpensive fresh flowers. Having fresh flowers at a few key points (like near the entry, in the bathroom, and in the living room) really brightens up the place and makes for a friendlier and fresher atmosphere. I generally choose the brightest yellows and pinks that I can find, as I love the pop of color that they bring, as well the other benefits, like a wee bit of scent.
- Organize into piles. I tend to do a lot of work from home, and this sort of work involves a lot of supplies like cutting mats, blades, pens, and different types of paper. Often in the middle of a project I don't want to sweep this all away and possibly disrupt my creative process, so I stack items strategically in piles. Tidy stacks look much nicer and still let me pick up where I left off.
- Dust the tech. Dusting messes with my allergies something fierce, so I try to avoid it and when I can absolutely not avoid it, I use a Swiffer cloth and wipe down the most egregious offenders, which are usually the black electronics. The dust sticks to the Swiffer pretty well, and although this is not the most environmentally sound approach, it makes me sneeze a lot less than using a re-usable dust cloth.
- The blue bag last resort. Still have items out that shouldn't be out? I use the big blue bag from IKEA to store these items right before guests arrive, and then put the bag itself in the closet. This is very much a last resort thing and I'm honestly a bit ashamed to admit I do this, but it seems like a better option than my guests tripping over sneakers, dog toys, and that stuff I really need to bring to Goodwill.
How do you keep your place tidy — any awesome tips and tricks?
(Image credits: Kim Lucian)