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The Fifteen-Minute Company Clean

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Part of being a great hostess is providing a clean and comfortable home for your guests. I like to have my entire home carefully scrubbed before I invite someone into it, but having a baby or a busy schedule makes taking the time for 1 big clean difficult. I’ve learned that a messy home doesn’t mean you need to spend hours cleaning to invite friends over for tea or for a casual dinner. In just 15 minutes, you can whip your home into presentable shape so a little mess doesn’t stand in the way of your desire to be hospitable.

  1. Triage the mess! Decide which rooms your guests will need to see. Close all the other doors and don’t think about them. Be sure you designate at least 1 bathroom. Total time: 1 minute.
  2. Do a man clean on every room your guests will see. In the kitchen, pile dishes into neat stacks. In the living room, move toys into a basket and put books back on the shelf. Try to avoid shifting clutter into rooms where it doesn’t belong so other rooms won’t look more intimidating later. Total time: 5 minutes.
  3. Clean the bathroom. Guests are more likely to notice and mind grime in the bathroom than in any other room. If you don’t have time to clean everything, at least clean the toilet bowl and seat as well as the sink. (Be sure you have some of Experimental Wifery’s homemade bathroom cleaners on hand.) Total time: 5 minutes.
  4. Make the room smell nice. You don’t have to use a store-bought spray full of nasty chemicals to make a room smell warm and inviting. Open the windows on a breezy day. Start a pot of cider in the winter. Or keep a homemade room spritzer on hand: combine 1 cup of water, 15 drops of thyme oil, and 10 drops of sage oil in a spray bottle. Total time: 2 minutes.
  5. Relax. No one likes to come into the home of a frazzled host. (As someone who has been a frazzled host many times herself, I should know.) Drink a glass of water or sip on a glass of wine, sit in a comfy chair, and take a couple of minutes to breathe. Total time: 2 minutes.

What messes in other people’s homes bother you the most? What parts of your home have to be clean for you to feel comfortable as a hostess? Let us know in the comments.

6 responses »

  1. I loooove this! It seems now that a lot of women in the blog community are espousing a “we’re messy, take us as we are!” approach to entertaining which I find off-putting. I’m not a diva, but I don’t want to sit in someone else’s messy or DIRTY house. Generally when company is coming over I try to at least do this quick clean. It doesn’t require much time or effort and it makes a visit so much more pleasant!

  2. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but with 7 kids it’s not always practical; I can really drive myself and everyone around me crazy before being hostess to a gathering!

    In my house, I try to make sure that the kitchen, main bathroom, and living room are in order. The bedrooms I shut off, like you suggested.

    I find, though, that I’m not that upset by mess and clutter in other people’s homes. I think we tend to be most critical of ourselves. I like to see that someone has at least attempted to have a clean environment- I think it makes you feel wanted and expected somehow.

    It really bothers me if someone’s kitchen is in a disarray- women tend to gather in the kitchen, and it’s not very relaxing to show up to someone’s house to have tea at the kitchen table, having to wipe jelly and crumbs off your chair, and be surrounded by dirty dishes!

    • It’s good to know that other people probably aren’t as critical of the mess in my home as I am!

      I agree with you about dirty kitchens, especially if the hostess is serving any food or drink.

  3. What is the most thorough and efficient way to clean a bathroom?

    • That’s a good question. I’m not sure there is one right answer. If I were trying to clean a bathroom thoroughly ,but as quickly as possible, I would start with the toilet. Clean the bowl by swishing around a mixture of 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of borax. Spray the seat, lid, and tank with bathroom cleaner and wipe them down with a cleaning cloth or rag. Don’t forget to clean the base and the floor around the toilet, especially if boys or men use your bathroom. They miss! If you clean regularly, cleaning the toilet thoroughly only takes a minute or two.

      Next, I would clean the sink. Spray bathroom cleaner on the sink bowl, faucet, handles, and countertop or base and wipe them down with a cleaning cloth or rag. Again, unless there is built up grime, cleaning a sink should take less than a minute.

      If I was in a hurry, I’d stop here. This kind of bathroom cleaning is what my great-grandmother called, “A lick and a promise.” It looks neat, but it isn’t done.

      If I was trying to be more thorough, I’d sweep and either wipe down or mop the floor and empty the garbage.

      I would clean a bathtub or shower last. Wipe them down with bathroom cleaner the same way you cleaned the sink. If you find you’ve got soap scum built up, try some soap scum remover or a magic eraser.

      Hope that helps.

  4. The most efficient way to clean a toilet is this:
    1. Lift the lid and seat and put your favorite toilet bowl cleaner in the bowl. Spray your spray cleaner on the toilet bowl rim and the under side of the toilet seat (don\’t wipe it yet).
    2. Put the seat down and spray the top of the seat and the underside of the lid.
    3. Put the lid down and spray the top of the lid and the tank. Then you can let it sit if you want to while you clean the sink and mirror.
    4. Then, when you\’re ready to finish the toilet, first wipe the top of the tank, the flush handle, and the front of the tank with your rag or sponge. Wipe the place between the front of the tank and the back of the seat, and the lid.
    5. Lift the lid, wipe the seat and bottom of lid… lift the seat and wipe the bottom of seat and bowl rim.
    6. Scrub out the bowl with a toilet brush, close lid and spray and wipe around front of toilet and base.
    I have cleaned countless toilets and have found no more efficient way to get a sparkling clean toilet. It probably takes a couple minutes to do the whole thing.


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