The Small Cleaning Tip My Mom Taught Me That Actually Makes Me a Better Guest

published Nov 19, 2023
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A bathroom vanity with round weave laundry baskets placed underneath and a bathtub beside it

You just never know what lessons from childhood are going to stick with you. As a mother myself, I’m more aware of my own mother’s lessons than ever — and find myself wondering what my children will remember of what I try to teach them. (Maybe it’ll be scrubbing out the sink every night, just like my mom had my sister and me do whenever we were on kitchen cleanup duty.)

So much of being a parent is teaching our kids how to be good people out in the world, and I’ve realized lately that learning how to take care of your own home matters beyond its confines. How you treat your own home extends to how you treat others’ homes, directly influencing the kind of guest you are when you’re in other people’s spaces. For instance, because my home is a shoes-off household, I always ask if I should take off my shoes when I’m a guest. 

My mom taught me many home-keeping habits that affect how I behave in others’ homes. There’s one habit, though, that she taught me specifically for when you’re somewhere other than your own home: Wipe the bathroom counter when you’re done washing your hands.  

Almost every time you wash your hands in the sink, you drip water on the countertop, whether it’s overspray from the faucet or drips from when you dry your hands. My mom taught me to take a small piece of toilet paper and wipe up those drips, leaving a clean, dry counter. I do this every time I’m at somebody’s house, and even sometimes in public restrooms! 

I remember my mom saying something along the lines of, “You shouldn’t leave any trace of yourself in other people’s bathrooms” and, honestly, it’s such good advice. I think of this when I’m an overnight guest. It guides how I stash my belongings (ideally, in my guest area only) and take care of the bathroom in general (making sure to wipe up any hair in the shower or on the floor, leaving countertop items where they were when I got there, emptying my trash, etc.). 

Whether I’m staying for a few days or at someone’s house for just a couple of hours, I appreciate that I can do a little something to be a thoughtful guest — and I value even more being taught that by my mom! An act as small as wiping up water drips not only keeps the room nice for other guests but also minimizes cleanup for the hosts. No one will ever know I did it, but it’s a kind and considerate act, a small bit of good cheer, and the least I can do.