I make it a practice to clean my house before I have company—only before I have company. It’s gotten to the point that when I pull out the broom, my son asks, “Who’s coming?” If the answer is no one, I put it back and thank him for bringing me to my senses.
But I have a lot of company during the summer, so I was intrigued by an article I came across the other day: “Easy Cleaning Tips to Get You Ready and Keep You Ready for Company.” I was a little put off by the author’s suggestion that I include these tips in my “daily cleaning.” Anyone who has time to clean daily, has too much time on their hands and should come fold my laundry.
The author did give a few tips that don’t need to be done daily, but they weren’t very useful. For example, she said I could keep my silverware tarnish-free by storing a strip of aluminum foil in my silver chest. I don’t have silver flatware or a silver chest. (I do however, have a roll of aluminum foil.) I’ve been known to give my company plastic forks since the flatware I do have is normally stored in my dishwasher.
Dusting was very important to the author of the article—too important really. She suggested you use a soft paintbrush to brush dust from lampshades and windowsills, and that that you dampen a couple of old socks with furniture polish then speed dust with one on each hand. I don’t know about socks, but I confess I once wiped a thick layer of dust from a framed photo as I handed it to a guest. I used my sleeve.
Mostly my philosophy on dusting can be summed up this way. Anyone who does the white glove test in my home is no one I want visiting anyway.
In the end, I chucked the article and came up with my own list of more practical tips for preparing for company. These will make your house seem cleaner, without you having to clean it.
Close all doors and drawers. If you’re confused by this suggestion, this tip may not apply to you. But at our house, dresser drawers and closet and cupboard doors are frequently left open, giving the appearance that our home has just been ransacked. When I forget to close them before the company arrives, I casually mention that we were robbed—again. I notice we’ve had fewer guests since I started using this technique.
Don’t stop at cupboard doors. If you close bedroom, bathroom, and basement doors, it will be easier to keep your guests corralled in the cleanest room in the house, whatever that may be. Just before your company arrives, take your vacuum into this room. Don’t vacuum; you don’t have time for that, but do take a moment to leave some nice vacuum tracks on the carpet in the center of the room.
Spray some pine scented cleanser around the house. Your guests will assume that you’ve been cleaning because there is no other good reason to release that odor into your home. Incidentally, vinegar is also a good scent to spray into your home since many people use vinegar to clean. If your guests don’t, they’ll think you do your own pickling, which is also very impressive.
Most importantly, don’t be intimidated by company who keeps a cleaner house than you do. Guests who are ill-mannered enough to comment on your housekeeping should be handed a mop.
Dorothy Rosby is the author of three books of humorous essays including Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About, Humorous Essays on the Hassles of Our Time. Contact [email protected]