8 Quick Tricks to Make Your Place Look Clean and Inviting

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There's really no point to cleaning your place top to bottom right before guests arrive. If they're any fun at all, they're going to make a bit of a mess, right? But you want them to think your house is clean, even if you just shoved those yet-to-be-unpacked suitcases under the bed seconds before you opened the front door with a smile. This is how I clean my house in ten minutes or less.

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  1. First things first. Shove the suitcase — and whatever else will fit — under the bed. That's what dust ruffles are for. Just make sure you don't push so many things under there that they come out on the other side.

  2. Replace dish towels in the kitchen and hand towels in the bathroom with clean ones. Bonus Points: Spray them with starch so it looks like you ironed them.

  3. Run a Swiffer over hardwood floors and pick up the visible chunks from any rugs. Make sure your dog does a run through of the kitchen to clean up any bits of food. Alternate Plan: Have small children slide across hard floors with socks, then toss the socks in the hamper so they don't carry the dust all over the house.

  4. Speaking of rugs, no matter how small, use rug tape or rubber mats to keep them in place. If you haven't done that yet, straighten them before guests arrive. (But get the rug tape, so you can skip this step forever!)

  5. Wipe down surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom with something that smells clean, but not like a cleaning product. I adore Mrs. Meyer's basil scent.

  6. Keep nice smelling hand soap in your bathroom. Wash your hands to infuse the bathroom with a lovely scent. Bonus: You will know which guests are hand washers by the smell when they exit the bathroom. But... all your friends are hand washers, right? Right.

  7. If you are a stacker — you know who you are, because there are books strewn on the ottoman, bills tossed on the counter and unopened mail discarded by the front door — make neat piles. Look at any fancy catalog and you'll find artfully stacked piles of junk on every surface. Channel your inner stylist; even a bowl of paper clips can look chic with the right accessories. Put a rock and a shell on that stack of bills. Throw the toys in a pretty basket. (When our children were younger, we had a basket in every room.)

  8. Turn the lights down and don't worry about it. Your guests are there to see you, not evaluate your cleaning skills!

How do you prepare for guests? Please share your quick tips!

(Images: Anne Postic)