You know the feeling when unexpected company shows up at your door. Summer pop-ins or holiday spontaneous visits. The doorbell rings. You quickly scan your house and gasp at the clutter, stacks of uncleaned dishes and piles of dirty clothes.

Don’t panic. Here’s our guide to keeping your home ready for anything, at any time. We’re not talking about creating an unlivable “house beautiful.” But there are some important triage steps you can take for the unexpected guest. Here are our top 5:

1. Have a periodic maintenance plan…and follow it
Be proactive. Schedule periodic house cleaning so you never are too many days from the last once-over. This includes cleaning bathrooms and the kitchen, vacuuming carpets and dusting. Add once or twice-yearly window washing and carpet steam cleaning. Keep spider webs, mold and mildew at bay with a once-a-year exterior pressure washing. In fact, why not treat yourself to a professional cleaning service. You’re worth it.

With this regular cleaning plan, a little quick pick-me-up will make the house instantly ready for anything or anyone.

2. Steer unexpected guests into the kitchen
Kitchens or attached great rooms are perfect congregating areas, where the focus is on food and holiday smells and not the untidy other parts of the house. Have scented candles on hand, too. Stock up on favorite appetizers so you’re never caught with the cupboards bare. Cheeseboards and crackers work wonders. They are great for grazing and easy to refill. Add nuts, dried fruit and salami, all easily kept on hand for extended periods of time. Plus, wine and beer. Kitchens are great distractions from the rest of the house!

3. Adorn every room with baskets and crates
You can find containers just about anywhere, in fabrics, wood, wicker and plastic, designed to fit the décor of any room. Fill them with all the things you normally leave lying about and don’t use, like throws, toys, books and magazines, pillows, shampoos and make-up, and family photos. These items are there whenever you need them, but you have just hidden tons of clutter in a fashionable way. When company suddenly knocks, you don’t have to scramble to de-clutter.

4. Have the guestroom prepared with the basics
If someone shows up needing a place to stay, don’t panic. Instead, ahead of time, prepare a room with simple amenities: a surface for a suitcase, an empty drawer, fresh towels, basic toiletries, plenty of plugs for phone and device charging, and linens and blankets ready to be made into a fresh bed.

5. Clean the gutters at least in the spring and fall
This may seem like an odd preparation as far as guests go, but think about it. Clogged gutters lead to water damage along walls, from the attic to the basement and everywhere in between. Nothing is less welcoming than a moldy, musty room that looks and smells like your worst dorm room in college. Guests will feel like an imposition and also second-rate. Hire a professional to clean those gutters. You don’t want to be greeting unexpected guests with a cast on your arm or leg.

None of these suggestions to have a sudden-guest ready home will make your home feel like a museum. De-cluttering and cleaning leaves plenty of space for the items you need daily and the things that show off your personality and comfort.

Again, a little planning will go a long way and may help you want to do even more planned entertainment of friends and family.

Need Help?

Companies that offer multiple services, like house cleaning, carpet cleaning, window cleaning and gutter cleaning are your preferred partners in home maintenance. This consolidated approach simplifies maintenance, allows the company to take a personal interest in the overall well-being of your home, and enables you to become a priority customer. Many “one call does it all” companies also offer multiple-service discounts.

Look for third-party endorsements for house cleaning companies from AngiBetter Business Bureau and Home Advisor.

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