I'm not swayed by inner satisfaction or the captivating sparkle of a spotless countertop. No—my main motivation for cleaning my space is almost always making sure that the people who see it don't think I'm gross. (Even if those people are just the UPS guy and my local Thai place's delivery driver.) I know I'm not alone, so I think all of us would appreciate the results of a recent study which discovered the things about our homes that are most likely to turn off potential guests.
AreaRugs.com compiled a list of 68 different sights, smells, and behaviors that could potentially be spotted in or around a home, and then asked 1,000 Americans how each circumstance would affect their impression of their host when visiting their host's home for the first time.
The biggest kitchen put off? It's not a sink full of dirty dishes (although that is number two). Most of the potential guests thought that a dirty litter box was the top thing likely to give them a poor impression of their host.
Which, fair. I don't want excrement anywhere near my cooking surfaces, either. But times are tough, square footage can be scarce, and sometimes your layout means that there's only one natural spot for a litter box to live. If you find yourself in that sitch, take this as a cue to make sure that the cat box is the first thing on your list of things to clean when guests arrive — even before you tackle the dishes or the overflowing garbage can. (And you may want to make a mental note that our easy three-step "cleaning for guests" checklist becomes four now, for you.)
The survey also made a point of separating the responses between men and women. Each gender weighed in somewhat equally on most kitchen gross-outs, as you can see in the infographic above, but the battle of the sexes showed more of a split when it comes to bathroom cleanliness.
In the bathroom, the survey respondents (both men and women) felt that their impressions hinged on a dirty toilet bowl and moldy tiles, overall. But men were much more lenient about having the toilet seat left up, and women found that having missing hand towels and trash bins were likely to leave a bad taste in their mouth. Which, frankly, justifies my college crusade to tell every guy friend I had that all they needed to impress girls they brought home was a trash can with a lid in the bathroom (tampons gotta go somewhere).
When it comes to a guests' overall impression of a home, the things most likely to turn them off were cobwebs and stains on the carpets and upholstery — which means you ought to order some Wine Away and get familiar with this tutorial on removing stains from furniture. And for those seriously stubborn stains that refuse to come out? Well, the best method might be distraction. The potential guests from the survey said that they'd be impressed to see freshly cut flowers, a large book collection and lit candles in their host's home.
You can see more results from the study on AreaRugs.com.