Jan 182011

How clean does your house need to be for entertaining guests? That is the million-dollar question. I’d like to present general conventions. On a daily basis, your house should be as clean as you need to normally function. I would like to think that the bathrooms and kitchen are cleaned weekly, and the house is vacuumed at least weekly if you own a cat or dog, but for some that isn’t nearly enough and for others that may be over-the-top. Dusting for a lot of us is every other week or possibly even longer, unfortunately—but true!

Now for those of us with little ones, we meet an impromptu friend at the park. And we say “How about popping over for a playdate?” How clean should your house be? Around my friend-circle, the above conventions seem to apply—but don’t stress if the beds aren’t made or the floors aren’t picked up of all toys—you are, after all, there to entertain the kiddos. Make a cup of coffee, grab a piece of couch and sit back and enjoy mommy time! Never feel your house needs to be perfect to have someone over! They say those with the richest lives have great friends and food and good music in their lives….they didn’t mention an immaculate house.

However, for a formal party, be it dinner or cocktail—the house must be clean and presentable—as in the whole house! Especially if people have not been there before. Most of us are curious to see housing layouts, bedroom decor, home decorating styles…the beds must be made. The rooms are picked up, and the bathrooms and kitchen cleaned. The house should be dusted, and the carpets vacuumed. All wood floors and other flooring surfaces should also be cleaned. Even the laundry room should be presentable! If it’s close friends, then the main areas need to be perfect and the others can slide. But in general, yes—the house should be ready to show!

With little children this can be a huge challenge. I asked my girlfriend when she went back to work if she’d hire a maid, and she replied, “No, my shoe budget comes first!” It made me smile (yes, she’s serious!) And put life into perspective. Some, like my girlfriends Angie and Catherine, are addicted to cleaning! They love it! They have it down to a science. Then there are those like me who don’t mind it, but are not necessarily passionate about doing the cleaning. It’s absolutely necessary, but not my favorite activity. I don’t mind it, per se, but given cleaning or something else to do—I’d probably pick something else.

So what do I feel that I have to clean? The bathrooms, for me, are a must! So many germs and different bacteria can reside in there, and they must be kept away as much as possible. And the kitchen must be on the cleaner side—absolutely! That’s where your family’s food is prepared. And to me, that says it all—even my microwave must be cleaned almost daily. That’s a pet peeve of mine, and dishes are done daily. They used to be done the minute they were dirty—now I have a 20-month old and priorities have shifted. (In the time it takes me to do the dishes she could crash the computer and call 911 AGAIN!)

So clean your house, make a plan and try to stick to it. The cleaner it is, the more you’ll enjoy it. But don’t stress it. It’s just not THAT important!

Do you agree with Ruly Ruth’s entertaining house cleaning guidelines? What entertaining “rules” do you abide by? Please share in the comments.

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4 Comments to “Ruly Ruth: How Clean Does Your House Need to Be for Entertaining?”

  1. avatar Mac B. says:

    Ruly Ruth, you ROCK! Your writing is always so entertaining & insightful!

    Once upon a time, I was a complete and total control freak when it came to my housekeeping standards. I didn’t want anyone coming to my home unless it was spotless…drove Evan crazy! I suppose as a newlywed, then stay-at-home Mom, my title as “homemaker” was my J-O-B, and I wanted to be the best. I thought others might judge me, questioning “what does she do at home all day?” But, as I’ve matured and learned what my true priorities are, I’ve eased up quite a bit. I put off the laundry to paint or color with Abby…ignore the dust to kick the soccer ball around on a nice day. They won’t be little ones for long…and I want to make certain I take it all in. The cleaning will always be there…and maybe if I ignore it long enough, Evan will do it or, the children will get a bit older and I can just add it to their chore list!

    So, I think you hit it right on the nose! Cleaning guidelines differ from situation to situation, playdates vs. formal dinners. These days, I don’t mind someone just “popping over” unannounced. I like sharing a cup of coffee with a dear friend…in my jammies…with the house a little messy. True friends don’t judge.

    Have a super day!

  2. avatar Amanda says:

    Agreed! Not that my house is always as clean as I’d like it to be… And dusting – UGH!! I put it off as long as possible. But I absolutely cannot tolerate dirty bathrooms, kitchen, or floors/carpet.

    Now, speaking of entertaining, I better get back to work. VX-9 OSC meeting chez moi tonight! :)

  3. avatar Jen Metzger says:

    Yep, I think you are right here…I agree with all you said. *I WISH I could abide by those rules…it’s the “people that are important” not the immaculate state of your house. With that being said, I am a CLEAN FREAK! *By this I mean,,,anyone, at ANY time (unannounced), can stop over at my house, and it will look like I’m planning for company,,,Dinner company in fact. *Here’s the problem: I have 3 little boys ages, 7, 5, and 19 months…how is this possible? (and as my mother ALWAYS says, “How do you do this “house beautiful” thing Jen?” Quite annoyed when she says it I might add with having 3 little boys: I am just obsessed with it. And that is NOT the good part…I want to relax more. By obsessed I mean, I will not leave the house with a dish in the sink, my floors are vaccumed to the fullest extent EVERY morning. My kitchen sparkles before I set foot out the door, and I steam my wood floors, (that cover my entire downstairs) at least 2x per week…what do ya’ll think? OCD??? Thanks for your writing on this Ruth ;-) Jen~

  4. avatar Angie says:

    Ruth, you are amazing!! I always love reading your latest and greatest posting. I definitley agree that for dinner parties your home should be super clean and tidy. Other than that, what you see is what you get! Now that I have 4 little lovelies under the age of 6 I truly live by the quote “Homes are made for free expression, not good impression”. Bathrooms and the kitchen are still pet peeves for me, but the vacuuming, dusting and laundry definitely get “forgotten” often. A true friend doesn’t care if your house is a mess and you can’t see the floor because it looks like Toys R Us dumped their truck in your living room. That friend is always welcomed in my home! ;)

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