The 5 Things You Should Never Clean Before a Dinner Party

updated Dec 8, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

When we have guests in our home we like things to look totally perfect, but even once you’ve done your decluttering and fluffed the couch cushions, you start to notice all the things wrong with your place — spill stains, scuffs on the wall, and a thin layer of dust everywhere.

Before you spiral into a manic cleaning spree, be aware that it is possible to go overboard! Some cleaning treatments can be botched if you don’t allot enough time, and others are just a total waste of the precious time you do have.

So here’s our pass to let some of that pre-party cleaning slide a little bit. Before your next shindig, take these things off your to-do list — they’re all things you should never clean before company comes over.

1. That spill on your couch

For some reason, that month-old curry stain on the sofa starts screaming at you half an hour before your guests arrive — but don’t tackle it now! If your upholstery fabric doesn’t have time to dry, it can leave wet spots on your guests’ pants. And the moisture is actually more likely to pick up dyes and grime from their jeans. Instead, flip the cushions, if you can, or strategically place a throw to cover the offending area.

2. Your carpets

When you give your room a fresh eye, you’re likely to see the dirty tread marks of wear and tear on your rugs. But just like the upholstery on the couch, spot-cleaned carpets need plenty of time to dry completely before you can step on them, because any remaining moisture can lift grime from the bottoms of your shoes or feet. Settle for a quick vacuum and call it.

3. Your bedroom

You’re pressed for time and cleaning your room would be a good way to waste any precious minutes you do have. As long as no one will need to go in there (read: your only bathroom isn’t attached to it), shut the door and pretend like the mess doesn’t exist — at least for the night.

4. Your oven

You may think that a pristine oven is the key to impressing your guests, but don’t lock your oven into cleaning mode with just a few hours before your party! The process takes a long time — often two to four hours — and it smells awful. What the oven is basically doing is burning off any extra food at a very high temperature. Save this for a time you won’t need the room for a few hours and can give the kitchen lots of ventilation. For now, just wipe down the stovetop and the outside of the oven door with a microfiber cloth.

Read more: Why You Should (Almost) Never Use Your Oven’s Self-Cleaning Function

5. The tub

Speaking of ventilation, don’t start scrubbing the tub (or anything else) with bleach before your guests arrive. You may want your bathroom gleaning, but the smell can be extremely off-putting. And without proper ventilation, those harsh chemicals can give some people allergic reactions, abrasions on their throats, dizziness, and all sorts of other not fun stuff. Save this for a time when the bathroom will have time to air out. For a quick antibacterial fix, just swipe surfaces with a little vinegar and a microfiber cloth.

In a last-ditch effort: Just dim the overhead lighting and light a scented candle or two, and no one will notice that things aren’t perfect!

More on Prepping for a Dinner Party