Early Sunday evening. A few dishes are left in the sink, yoga mat is out, the New York Times is scattered on the floor and I’ve given myself a mini-facial so there are million creams in the sink when a friend calls.
Friend: Hey Pippa, I’m in the neighborhood, fancy a visitor?
Panic hits. Holy hell, what on earth?!
Me: Ah, I was just….
Pippa, think of an excuse. Think. Think. Think!
Me: Sure, come over.
Oh, gee. WTF. Now what?!
I’m all about the “work smart, not hard” approach to most things, especially when it comes to cleaning. There are better things to worry about dust and stuff but it’s definitely super important to take care of it.
Below are just a few pointers on how to get the job down fast when that surprise visitor knocks on your door.
1. Get rid of it!
Remove all TMI (too much information) items such as laundry, self-help books, magazines, receipts, acne creams, yoga mats, notes to self, dumbbells and medications from your area even if it’s just temporary. No matter how strong the drink you serve, just the mere sight of a TMI item can destroy any space appeal.
2. Make it sparkle
Quickly polish and wipe down the focal points of your area first whilst keeping in mind where friends like to congregate. I like to focus on a few hot spots: coffee table, mantle and countertop. If these areas sparkle it immediately gives the impression that the entire apartment is just as clean and presentable. Again, work smart, not hard.
3. The bathroom
It’s the one room you can’t call off-limits so make sure it’s looking decent. Check that your hand towels are clean (i.e. no mascara or foundation marks). Do you have enough soap and toilet paper so guests don’t have to go hunting (i.e. snooping) for it themselves? Also, if it’s a guy visitor, remember that they lift up the toilet seat so make sure it sparkles. Clorox wet wipes are your friend. For extra bonus points, add a flower element.
5. The kitchen
Remove dishes and any other culinary TMI items from the area. Wipe down counters and stovetop so that they at least appear to sparkle. It shouldn’t require much elbow grease—this clean is a temporary fix that you can apply in a few minutes.
Check your fridge for any questionable items of food. There is nothing worse than a guest going to “help themselves” to only discover a food artifact from 1995. Lastly, before your guest arrives ditch your trash just in case it smells and you have no idea. I know it’s gross but I’ve seen it happen.
6. Mood lighting
Any space or anyone (including you) for that matter looks better with the lights down. So drop the dimmer and light a candle but make sure the fragrance doesn’t overwhelm. A good scented candle shouldn’t be a talking point or resemble a cheap mens aftershave -subtely is the key.
7. Food or wine or both?
It’s a no-brainer. Open a bottle and dish out something yum. They’ll leave your place thinking, “Wow, wasn’t that a great night—good wine, fine conversation and boy, doesn’t her apartment always look good? Oh and was that a scented candle? I couldn’t tell…”
Ha! If they only knew.
Please send me your cleaning tips, thoughts or tidbits to firstname.lastname@example.org. I really want to hear them!