The hustle-bustle of the holidays means lots of guests and little time to make your home presentable, especially on short notice. Don't panic!
"It's nearly impossible to carve out time for the fun holiday stuff, let alone the nitty gritty cleaning like washing the sheets on the guest bed or wiping the dust off the good china," said Real Simple magazine's deputy editor, Rachel Hardage.
"So how can you maintain a seemingly clean home when guests arrive? With a little holiday magic," she said.
When company's on the way and you just hit the door from work, prioritize holiday cleaning with these five cheats:
SCENT OVER SUBSTANCE
Dusting under all that living room clutter is out of the question. Light lemon-scented candles for a happy, just-dusted smell and create impromptu ambiance at the same time. Flip couch cushions. Fan magazines and catalogs on the coffee table to hide smudges — and move on.
WET WIPES TO THE RESCUE
Use wet wipes to shine hotspots that visitors are likely to touch and see the most — the obvious doorknobs and light switches, along with the guest bathroom sink and chrome. Also use wipes for quick touch-ups on outer surfaces only of the tub and toilet. Cleaning the toilet bowl isn't going to happen. Choose wipes with a pleasing perfume over a strong alcohol smell if you're looking to fly under the radar and pretend your home always sparkles. Mood candles work in bathrooms, too, to distract from messiness.
STICKY ROLLER, TUB STASH
Perk up the bath mat with an adhesive lint brush. You can use it on lamp shades as well. No more room under the bathroom sink? Empty your laundry basket on your closet floor, scoop up stray toiletries and stash them in the tub, with high hopes guests won't peek. Hang fresh guest towels, and exchange wet bath towels on hooks for a fresh, fluffy robe.
DISAPPEARING DISHES, STRATEGIC FOLDS
The dishwasher's full and the breakfast dirties spent the day in the kitchen sink. Rinse and stow them in large cooking pots. Fold and hang the dish towel on the oven handle with stains in the back. Flip placemats and arrange dining table clutter artfully at one end. Got fruit? Place a bowl of it in the center of the table or kitchen counter as colorful eye candy. For a germ-free smell, dab a little liquid pine-scented cleaner on a rag and place it under the kitchen sink. Don't overdo.
BLOCKS AND PUZZLES OH MY!
You've rationalized the days-old scattered puzzle pieces and blocks on your child's bedroom floor as healthy, open-ended play. Guests may not see it that way. Stash puzzle pieces in a dresser drawer, stack the puzzle bases neatly on a shelf. Grab a few of your best canvas totes to collect blocks and random toys for stowing in room corners and closets. The totes will look like a brilliant organizing technique. Reshelving books will waste time. Stack them next to the bed, chair or desk. Lightly spritz diaper depository and-or hamper areas with a fast-acting deodorizer.