The Ultimate Cleaning Checklist Before Having Company Over

room diffuser and flowers

The Spruce / Jenelle Botts

In our fantasies, our home is always clean, well-stocked with food and drink, and ready to welcome guests—planned or unexpected. In reality, most homes need a bit of cleaning and refreshing to look their best before guests arrive. If your home isn't always pristine, how much cleaning you can do is directly related to how much time you have before the company arrives.

Let's pretend that if you know several weeks in advance that you'll be welcoming guests, that you have time to deep clean and take care of all of the usual housekeeping chores. If you only have a day or a couple of hours before everyone arrives, you can still give the impression of a clean house.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind so you spend your limited cleaning time effectively.

  • Zero in on the rooms your guests are sure to use—entryways, living areas, bathrooms, and for overnight guests, bedrooms. Don't begin cleaning areas like the laundry room, they will never see.
  • Engage the entire family. Even young children can help. Assign tasks that can be done simultaneously. One person can vacuum while another declutters.
  • Work quickly and make the most impact with the least amount of work. Remove clutter instead of cleaning the oven. If you don't have time to sort and put away all of the clutter, gather it in a laundry basket and hide it in a closet!
  • 01 of 08

    Sweep and Clean the Entrance

    welcome mat

    The Spruce / Jenelle Botts

    Whether your guests use the front or back door, the entryway makes the first impression of your home. Take a few minutes to sweep away debris and shake out the welcome mat. If you have a glass door, quickly wipe away fingerprints and smudges to set the tone of a clean home.

    Don't forget to look around the area just inside the door. Corral shoes in a basket, stash the pile of mail in a drawer, and make a little space in the coat closet for guests' coats.

  • 02 of 08

    Declutter and Straighten Living Areas

    cleaning up the living room area

    The Spruce / Jenelle Botts

    After the entrance, concentrate on the space where your friends usually gather. To be efficient, grab a box or laundry basket and work around the room clockwise picking up anything that is adding clutter to the area. As you move around the room, straighten and fluff pillows and fold throws.

    Keep a microfiber duster in your hand to quickly dust tables and shelves.

  • 03 of 08

    Make the Guest Bathroom Shine

    making sure the guest bathroom is tidy

    The Spruce / Jenelle Botts

    Nothing says "yuck" much more than a dirty bathroom. Having a clean bathroom will help guests forgive a bit of messiness in the rest of the house. Sweep personal items into drawers or the medicine cabinet. Grab some disinfecting wipes and wipe down counters and sinks. Clean the mirrors and make sure that toilet sparkles.

    Check that toilet paper is fully stocked, put out fresh hand towels, and a new bar of soap, or make sure the soap dispenser is full. If you have time, sweep and mop the bathroom floor.

  • 04 of 08

    Declutter and Clean the Kitchen

    a tidy kitchen

    The Spruce / Jenelle Botts

    Everyone ends up in the kitchen at some point, so make sure to get all of the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, wash them in the sink, or, in a real emergency, hide them in the oven!

    Put away as much clutter from the counters as you can and wipe them down with a disinfecting wipe. Clean the sink and wipe away fingerprints from appliances. If you have time, quickly sweep or vacuum the floor and use a damp mop to remove obvious dirt.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Overnight Guests? Declutter Bedrooms and Change the Sheets

    making the bed

    The Spruce / Lucianna McIntosh

    If you have time to straighten bedrooms, make the beds, hide clutter, and close drawers and closets. Vacuum the floors and dust the furniture. If you don't have time, close the door to the bedroom!

    If guests will be spending the night, make sure the bed has fresh linen and there are fresh bath towels available. Make some room for their suitcase and a spot in the closet so they can hang clothes.

  • 06 of 08

    Vacuum or Damp Mop Floors

    cordless vacuum

    The Spruce / Jenelle Botts

    Most people capture an overall image of a room at eye-level. If you have removed clutter and straightened a room, there is less focus on the floor. But, if you have time, vacuuming, sweeping, or damp mopping floors is always a good idea.

    If you have time, sprinkle carpets with dry baking soda and allow it to absorb odors for at least 30 minutes. As you vacuum it away, the carpet will smell fresher and look brighter.

    Keep a duster close by so you can take care of spiderwebs and obvious dust as you vacuum.

  • 07 of 08

    Freshen the Air

    room diffuser

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

    We all get used to the usual smell of our home. But, others may not find that smell too pleasing so you might want to freshen the air.

    If you have time, open windows and turn on vents to draw out cooking and pet odors. Empty trash cans, use a fabric and air freshener that traps odors, light a scented candle, or turn on an essential oil diffuser.

    One trick that every real estate agent knows is to bake some cookies. Keep a roll of cookie dough on hand to immediately give your home a wonderful aroma and you'll have a treat to serve guests.

  • 08 of 08

    Add Some Final Touches

    finishing touches for guest preparation

    The Spruce / Jenelle Botts

    Once things are under control, light a candle, turn on some music, and hunt out some clean glasses or cups so you can offer your guests something to drink. Try to relax and focus on the real reason the company has arrived—to enjoy visiting with you and your family.