Get Your House Ready for Company (What’s Important + What’s Not)

You’re about to have company over, and now you’re panicking. Your house is a disaster. Don’t worry; we’ve all been there.

I know how stressful it can be when guests come over, and the last thing you want them to see is a messy house. 

So if you’re looking for ways to get your home ready for company, remember that your time is limited. There are some things you need to focus on and some you can let go of.

You can’t clean all the rooms in your house before a last-minute guest. Let’s discuss what ACTUALLY needs to happen before someone comes knocking on your door.

woman cleaning kitchen counter

Get your house ready in a hurry

Let’s say you have only a few minutes before guests arrive. Here’s the plan:

  1. Open two windows on opposite sides of the house.
  2. Light a scented candle
  3. Spray down the toilet, sink, and mirror in the guest bathroom and clean them, then wipe down the bathroom floor.
  4. Replace any towels or toilet paper a guest might use.
  5. Throw all dirty dishes in the dishwasher and wipe down sink and counters.
  6. Throw clutter in a trash bag and hide it somewhere.
  7. Straighten pillows, furniture, rugs, and blankets.

The bathroom is priority number one.

As the saying goes, when people are sitting in your bathroom, they have nothing better to do than sit down and inspect your housekeeping.

Make sure you get the toilet bowl clean, wipe down the countertop and sink, scrub the shower/tub. Make sure there are fresh hand towels out too.

Make sure it is clean and organized, with fresh towels. Are your light switches and bar soap grimy? Probably. It just takes a second to freshen them up. They might seem like little details, but a guest will notice them right away.

Start with the powder room and get it clean and organized.

Open up the window if you have one, scrub it within an inch of its life, and move on to the rest of the house.

Make your house smell nice.

A lot of us have stuffy houses that could use a good airing out. If you can, open the windows. You might not notice it, but a guest will.

Take out the trash, check your laundry baskets, and investigate any other source of a possible bad smell. If you have a spill that needs to be tackled, sprinkle baking soda on it and vacuum it up. Then open your windows for as long as possible while you go about the rest of your cleaning.

To add a nice smell to your house, light a candle or bake something sweet. (Something simmering on the stove like mulled cider is also lovely, of course.)

But it’s important not just to cover up bad smells with a nice fragrance. First, eliminate them and air out your home.

Take a look at what you see from the front door.

You need your guests to be greeted by something welcoming when they get to your home. Pretend you are one of them, open the door, and BE CRITICAL.

Is there a cluttered, messy kitchen poking into your field of view? Are there shoes, toys, and pet stuff everywhere? It seems cute and personal to you, button your guests; it’s just clutter.

Sightlines from the front door are so important. If you can get rid of clutter right there, do it.

Clear the path for your guests to get inside without tripping over anything or walking by something embarrassing like, God forbid dirty laundry.

Clean off cluttered surfaces

Make sure that any areas that are used for entertaining are clear, neat, and comfortable.

If you use your coffee table as a catch-all for mail and other stuff, get rid of it or ensure it’s neat before the company arrives.

Clear off any surfaces that guests may use to put down drinks. It’s super embarrassing to watch people rearrange your family room just to have a place to put down a cup.

Clean the floors

Floors are important. Sticky, grimy floors give you the impression the whole house is gross. Shiny floors can help your guests overlook other flaws.

Don’t get into the cleaning rut of sweeping, mopping, and then ignoring your floors for another month or two. Get into a routine of keeping them somewhat clean, and then a quick touchup when you get ready for company will make a huge difference.

Clean your floor right before you get company coming over. This will make sure they look spotless when it matters. You can get your kitchen floor looking great by getting down on the ground and wiping it with a damp microfiber cloth. Spend a few minutes on this, and the whole room will look better.

Preventing last-minute cleaning

a very clean bedroom with big windows

Now, of course, if your house is never a complete mess, it will never be a disaster when you’re suddenly expecting company.

But if you get into the habit of putting things away and picking them up, you can avoid those icky last-minute cleanups. Of course, everyday life happens, and there will always be some work to get ready for company.

Here are some ways to make sure you always have a clean house. (Well, clean enough.)

  • Clean your kitchen every night after dinner to keep anything from building up on your appliances and counters.
  • Give the bathroom sink and toilet a quick wipe down every morning
  • Add a few deep-cleaning chores to your to-do list every day so you don’t get overwhelmed.
  • Keep paper towels and cleaning spray in different parts of your home so you can tackle a mess when you first see it.
  • Get yourself on a cleaning schedule that breaks up the work and holds you accountable

Have a snack and drink ready

Having fresh coffee or tea ready can be a big help for you and your guests. It’s awkward to sit and stare at each other, so offering them something gives them something to drink and something to do.

Setting out some snacks or drinks for you and your guests is going to make everyone happier. They will be able to help themselves whenever they want rather than waiting on you.

But remember, if you’re in a hurry, do this last. Nothing is embarrassing about fixing a pot of coffee in a clean space, but a freshly brewed pot in a gross kitchen is not attractive.

For overnight guests, prepare bedding and toiletries

Have these things ready before they get there. You don’t need to be bursting into the guest room, asking them if they need shampoo. Just put it in the shower. This will help you start making them feel welcome and get them started on their home away from home.

Things to include in the guest room

  • Alarm clock
  • Toiletries
  • Extra pillows and blankets
  • Hangers in the closet

If you have the time, consider extra touches like fresh flowers or candles.

Including some simple extras can make your guests feel at home. But don’t overdo it and be weird. No one likes to feel like a burden at someone’s house.

Some things you might not have considered

If you’re having guests stay with you for days, your cleaning plan needs to change. (Hopefully, you’ve had plenty of advance notice.). In this situation, pretty much the entire house needs to be clean. I know; it’s annoying.

Don’t forget these areas:

  • Your kitchen cabinets. When someone is helping you cook and they open your spice cabinet to have a box of salt fall on their head…. well, it’s not the greatest feeling.
  • Your deep cleaning needs to be on point. Baseboards, windows, the works. They will see it all. Do one room per day and you will get very, very far. Honestly.
  • Kids toys can be out, but get rid of broken stuff that looks like trash. Take this opportunity to rotate their toys so they will play with more while you have guests.
  • Your microwave! Keep the inside clean.

A few simple steps can make your home seem like a welcoming and clean space. Remember to put away all clutter, keep the bathroom sparkling clean, and get some fresh air into your house. In the long term, let’s develop some better cleaning habits so that our homes are always ready for company. And if things don’t go perfectly, that’s okay too. You’re only human, and chances are, so are your guests. 😉