Organizing Theory & Artistry

Ruly Ruth: How Clean Does Your House Need to Be for Entertaining?

Meeting of the women's club. Tygart Valley Homesteads, West Virginia (1939). Photo by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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.

Mom's Club Meeting. Photo by Abigail Batchelder. From the Flickr Creative Commons.

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!

Sterling Book Club. Photo by bucklava. From the Flickr Creative Commons.

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!

Laughing. Photo by Ciaran McGuiggan. From the Flickr Creative Commons.

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