The best way to deal with unexpected guests is prevention: train them to give a week’s notice before coming over. Unfortunately, some folks won’t listen. If you’ve been following a daily whole house cleaning routine, there’s no reason for panic. But what if you’ve been too busy as Aunt Edna calls to say she’s going to be in your neighborhood in half an hour and wants to stop by for coffee?
The Easy Way
You could pretend, as I have in the past, that you’ve forwarded your home number to your cell phone, and you’re actually at the dentist’s office waiting to get a root canal so you can’t be home to greet Aunt Edna. (I don’t particularly like her, anyway.) Of course, she may always decide to drive by and discover your ruse, at which point you’re stuck making up another story about the dentist’s office rescheduling, and you’l still have a messy house that Aunt Edna will cluck about disapprovingly. (See why I don’t like her?)
The Better Way
Grab your cleaning tools, set your timer, and prepare to work up a quick sweat. Remember: this is not cleaning; this is faking clean. Don’t get distracted!
You will need:
- A laundry basket or large trash bag
- Microfiber or other cleaning cloth
- Air freshener (only use homemade air freshener if it’s already mixed)
- Disinfecting wipes
- All-purpose spray cleaner
- Glass cleaner (hopefully you have some homemade window cleaner already)
- A broom and/or vacuum
- Kitchen: Empty the dishes in the sink. If you can, put them in the dishwasher but don’t run it. If there’s no room, shove them in the oven. Yes, really. Now, toss all of the clutter and trash into the laundry basket. You’ll deal with it later. Spray the air freshener.
- Bathroom: Turn the bathroom fan on. Splash some all-purpose cleaner in the toilet and let it sit. Clean any spots from the mirror, and polish the faucet fixtures. Use the disinfecting wipe on the vanity and sink basin, then wipe down the toilet seat and inner rim. Toss the wipe, flush the toilet and turn off the fan. Spray the air freshener.
- Living/family room: Toss clutter and trash into the laundry basket. Straighten sofa pillows. Spray all-purpose cleaner on the cleaning cloth and wipe away any food spills from table tops. Use the broom or vacuum to pick up obvious crumbs on the floor. Spray the air freshener.
- Entry way: This is where Aunt Edna’s first impression is going to be made. Wipe down the outside door knob. Shake off the Welcome Mat. Quickly sweep the front step. If you’ve got a glass door, give it a quick polish. Step back inside and spray air freshener. Toss any shoes, sports equipment and other clutter into the laundry basket. Take the basket to your bedroom closet and hide it.
- You: Before Aunt Edna sticks her nose into your house, she’ll be forming an opinion of how it looks based on how you’re looking. Take a moment to comb your hair, then change into workout gear and throw a towel around your neck. You’re probably huffing and puffing from the last-minute mad dash, anyway, so just tell the old biddy you’ve been doing aerobics because, really, shouldn’t we all try to take care of our bodies first and foremost? Then give her a slow glance up and down. She’ll get the hint.
Article continues below
Have you bought my cookbook? Autumn: A Season of Easy Cooking features 3 MONTHS of weekly dinner menus, 3 MONTHS of grocery lists, 3 MONTHS of cooking plans. You'll save money by reducing food waste, eat seasonally, and spend LESS THAN 20 MINUTES COOKING DINNER each night! Get it from Amazon here!