Cleaning Your House for Guests: A Checklist
By: Anne Miller
Countdown to a perfectly clean guest-ready home no matter how much — or little — time you have.
It feels great to have a clean, organized, well-functioning home when you've got guests coming. Especially around the holidays. It's like your gift to you.
Here's how to get that satisfying feeling — no matter how much time you have. Just choose your starting point on this checklist:
Three (or More) Weeks to Go
Think big picture. Get anything that requires a pro or installation out of the way now. No one wants calamity to strike when guests are pulling into the driveway.
- Get your HVAC maintained if it's overdue.
- If you have a self-cleaning oven, clean it now. An oven is most likely to break down during the cleaning cycle, so don't save this task for last.
- Replace any appliance on its last legs. You don't want your hot water to go out or fridge on the fritz with a houseful of guests.
- Steam-clean upholstery. (Or hire a pro. It's a big job)
- Hire a handyman for those repairs you've been putting off.
- Check outdoor lighting. Replace old bulbs and call an electrician to address any bigger issues.
Two Weeks to Go
It's not panic time yet. Focus on decluttering and a few deep-cleaning tasks now, and you'll have a more manageable to-do list when the clock really starts ticking down.
- Do a deep declutter. It'll make things easier to keep clean.
- Dust ceiling fans, light fixtures, and high-up shelves.
- Wipe down baseboards.
- Clean out and organize the fridge.
- Wash windows to make the entire house feel brighter and cleaner.
- Toss washable shower curtains and drapes in the washing machine and re-hang. Easy.
Related: 6 Sneaky Storage Ideas to Hide Your Clutter in Plain Sight
One Week to Go
It's strategic cleaning time. Here's what to tackle now — things your family won't easily undo before your guests arrive.
- Declutter again.
- Vacuum and dust guest rooms. If they're low-traffic, the cleanliness should hold with just a quick wipe-down right before they arrive.
- Wipe down walls.
- Wipe down kitchen and dining room chairs and tables, including the legs. You'd be surprised how grimy they get.
- Deep clean the entryway — and make room for your guests' stuff.
72 Hours to Go
The final cleaning stretch is on the horizon.
- Do another declutter.
- In the kitchen, toss stove burners, drip pans, and knobs into the dishwasher for an easy deep clean.
- Wash kitchen cabinet fronts.
- Scrub the kitchen floor.
- Clean and shine appliances.
48 Hours to Go
Now it's time to get serious.
- Clean and sanitize garbage cans to banish mystery smells.
- Wipe down doorknobs, faceplates, and light switches. They're germ magnets.
- Clean the front door.
- Deep clean the bathroom your guests will use, and close it off if possible.
- Wash guest towels and linens.
24 Hours to Go
Your guests' bags are packed. Time for final touches.
- Do a final declutter - by now it shouldn't take more than five minutes.
- Give one final wipe-down to toilets, tubs, and bathroom sinks.
- And another final wipe-down in the kitchen.
- Do all the floors: mop, vacuum, sweep, etc.
- Make guest beds and set out clean towels.
- Plug in nightlights in guest baths.
- Put out guest toiletries so they're easy to find.
- Add a coffee or tea station in the guest room or kitchen.
- Get your favorite smell going, whether it's a scented candle, spices in water on the stove, or essential oils.
- Use rubber gloves to wipe off pet hair and dust from furniture. It works.
- Do the full red carpet: Sweep or shovel porch, steps, and outdoor walkways.