Here's the truth: Your closest friends and family don't actually care if your house is a little bit messy. They can see beyond the dust bunnies, and they're going to love you even if your bookshelf isn't perfectly in order. (And the in-laws that notice everything? Well, you can't please them, anyway.) But with the holidays in full swing, you're more likely than ever to be opening your doors to further-flung friends, distant relatives, and colleagues, and it's nice to make a good first impression in the form of a clean, tidy home.
Fortunately, it doesn't take much effort to make your home feel clean for guests, and the time you do spend organizing and arranging shows that you're excited for their arrival and conscious of their comfort. Plus, it can make you feel more confident in your home, which means you'll be more relaxed even if the night doesn't go exactly as planned. Your best bet is to clean and tidy the spaces and items they're most likely to see and use. Here, the five most important things to clean around the house before guests arrive on your doorstep.
Inevitably, the spot where you come in and out each day is a landing place for shoes, coats, bags and tracked-in dirt. It's also where you'll make your true first impression on your guests. While it's likely you'll gather some shoes and coats as more people come through the door, it's hard for your guests to feel welcome if they're tripping over days' worth of your castoffs. Take a minute to gather and stash your family's stuff, then do a quick vacuum or sweep over the threshold to get it clean.
When you walk into a public restroom, your radar is up: You see the trash that's spilled on the floors, liquid pooled where it shouldn't, rings around the sink handles. But in our own homes, it's our own dirt—that toothpaste scum isn't that gross, right? It's easy to overlook day-to-day buildup in the bathroom, so before guests come over, put away as many countertop toiletries as you can, then give your bathroom counter, faucet handles, and toilet a quick wipe down to remove any debris. Run a hand vac around the corners of the floor, and the space will look spotless.
Another spot that you probably didn't notice was dirty is your sofa. Especially if you have pets or kids, the sofa quickly gets covered in hair, fuzz, or popcorn kernels. Even if it's just you who calls your space home, if the pillows and throw blankets are a crumpled mess from last night's binge-watching session, sitting on the sofa can feel a little too… intimate. Before everyone arrives, fluff the pillows, fold those blankets, and use a hand vacuum or lint roller to spruce up the couch.
Everyone always seems to gather in the kitchen, but if your sink is full and your countertops are covered in last night's dinner, it can be a little jarring. Ideally, you'd have time to clean everything, dry it, put it away, and wipe down the counters with a multipurpose spray and a cloth before guests arrive, but if you're in a pinch or last-minute guests are on their way over, stash the dirty dishes inside the dishwasher and run your sponge over the visible water spots.
Whether you're pouring Champagne or offering cool drinks of water, guests will notice if your glasses have a layer of dust or an aging lipstick mark on the rim. Before they arrive, give your glassware a once-over and quickly rinse off any debris—if you dry them right away, they'll be extra-sparkly clean.