Cleaning Tips for a Party-Ready House: Easy 7-Day Plan

Impress your party guests with a home that sparkles and shines. Manage the housecleaning tasks with the same ease you organize the rest of your party planning. The cleaning tips and ideas in our seven-day plan guide you through deep cleaning for your party with low-stress, easy-to-achieve tasks. Our free checklist helps you track your progress and finish in plenty of time for the party.


When you're making your party to-do list, add "Clean the house" near the top, but don't think of it as a chore. Organize the tasks into easily achievable components. With a little planning, cleaning the house for a party is so simple, you'll be tempted to use these hints for your regular cleaning routine.

Divide the work into tasks that can be completed in small chunks of time throughout the week preceding the party to reduce the stress of party preparations. Give each day a cleaning theme, and finish that day's tasks in an hour or less. You can slip in many of the tasks among other daily activities. Start here:

  • Day 1: Strategize
  • Day 2: Brighten the Windows and Entry
  • Day 3: Clean the Bathrooms
  • Day 4: Clear Guest Areas
  • Day 5: Attack the Kitchen
  • Day 6: Polish the Party Spaces
  • Day 7: Do Touch-Ups

Preparation is the key to no-stress party planning. Get our 7-Day "One Day at a Time" Housecleaning Plan, available below, to make sure you'll enjoy your party instead fret over smudges and clutter as your party guests arrive. We walk through each day on the following pages.

Get our free 7-Day "One Day at a Time" Housecleaning Plan checklist.

Day 1: Strategize

On the first day of party cleaning, the task is evaluation: See what needs to be done, and devise a strategy to accomplish the chores in an efficient way.

Check out these three easy tricks for recognizing important cleaning tasks and developing an achievable strategy for accomplishing them. By planning first, you'll save time cleaning and be able to see your progress throughout the week.

Pretend you're a guest. Amid the routine of daily life we often overlook clutter and dusty corners. Walk through your home with a visitor's eye, and use these tricks to get a new perspective on your home. First, identify imperfections.

  • Stand at the curb and look to your front door. Make a note of debris on the sidewalk, dust on the steps, bushes intruding onto the walkway, and anything else that impedes a guest's entry.
  • Stand at the front door. Jot down anything that needs to be cleaned up: cobwebs in the corners, smudged glass in the door, dirt on the floor, or other clutter.
  • Move to the foyer or entryway. List anything that guests might notice as an inconvenience, such as obstacles in the walkway or an overstuffed coat closet.
  • Continue to the living area. Write down anything that distracts: Fingerprints on glass, dead plant leaves, dust on bookshelves, clutter on tables, and mussed furniture. While you're in the main party spaces, list anything you'd like to put away for safekeeping, such as fragile glassware.
  • Eye the kitchen. Make a list of areas that need special attention, such as the top of the refrigerator and the pantry floor. Because you're making a list of all the tasks you want to complete before the party, go ahead and add cleaning out the refrigerator and clearing countertops.
  • Check out the bathrooms. Note any countertop, bathtub, or shower clutter. Give your medicine cabinets and linen closets a critical review.
  • Scan the bedrooms and other private spaces. You might not intend for guests to wander into your bedroom or office, but sometimes they will. Record any elements you want to straighten, refresh, or put away.

Consolidate your list. After you've finished your walk-through, it's time to organize the list into achievable tasks.

  • Combine like tasks so you only have to pull out equipment, such as the vacuum cleaner, once or twice during your cleanup effort.
  • Organize some chores by room so you can complete a space, see your progress, and move on to the next item on your list.
  • Consider ways to maximize your efficiency. For example, plan to wash throw rugs early in the cleaning process. By the time you're done with your floors, the clean rugs will be ready, too.

Assign tasks. Gather family members to help clean for the party. When you split the task list among the family and by day, the chores will be finished more quickly than you expect.

Editor's Tip: Make cleaning for the party into a game so kids will be more willing to participate. Have a dance contest while you dust. Race to put away toys, clutter, or laundry.

Day 2: Brighten the Windows and Entry

On the second day of your party-cleaning effort, it's time to get down to the dirty work. If you follow these hints, you'll spend only an hour or so on each day's cleaning tasks.

Stick to your list. Avoid distractions, such as a messy drawer or a stack of photos you intend to add to a scrapbook. Those extra tasks drag out the time it takes to finish your list and undermine your cleaning efforts. Be sure to include cleaning time in your daily schedule.

Start by giving your whole house a brighter outlook.

  • Wash the windows in your party spaces. It's amazing how much prettier clean glass is. Even if your party is at night, the glass will glow and shimmer in candlelight or party lighting.
  • Vacuum the window screens. Get rid of dust and cobwebs that give windows a dingy feel.
  • Clean the glass in your front door.
  • Sweep your front porch, steps, and walkway. Brush away cobwebs, and clear away any obstacles. Give your entry a fresh, welcoming appearance.
  • Damp-mop the baseboards to add a little shine near the floor.
  • Toss window and shower curtains in the laundry. Take a little time to press them, too. The fresh, clean smell will begin to permeate your house, and the crisp, pressed look highlights the newly cleaned windows.
Day 3: Clean the Bathrooms

Impress your guests with a sparkling-clean bathroom or powder room. Take care of the messy work early, and the bath will only need a quick refresh on the day of the party.

  • Scrub the toilets.
  • Clear the counters of clutter. If you don't have enough storage space to put everything away, tuck the toiletries into a small basket. Leave the basket on the counter for everyday use until party day. On the day of the party, hide the basket in a closet, under a bed, or in some other discreet spot.
  • Clear the tub or shower, and scrub it until it shines. Either neatly arrange bath essentials in an organizer, or nestle them in a container to be hidden away just before party time.
  • Organize the contents and clean the surfaces of your medicine cabinets. People are nosy by nature. They will peek. Tuck away anything you want to keep private.
  • Straighten the bedrooms. Store any clutter out of sight.
Day 4: Clear Guest Areas

In the middle of the cleaning effort, it's time to make sure guests have plenty of room to mingle during the party.

  • Review your list of fragile or irreplaceable items. Put them in safe places on high shelves or tuck them away from errant elbows and messy spills.
  • Clear the clutter from your living areas. Use an empty laundry basket to gather odds and ends, stray clothing or shoes, papers, books, magazines, toys, and other items that have been left on tables or the floor. If you have time, put everything in its proper place now. If you don't, tuck the laundry basket into an out-of-the-way spot such as a laundry room, closet, garage, or basement storage area.
  • Straighten the entryway and coat closet. Make room for guests' outerwear. Consider moving your family's outerwear to another closet or other temporary storage until after the party. Add extra hangers for guests, if necessary. Clear away backpacks, briefcases, shoes, scarves, gloves, sports equipment, and other items that are typically left in the entryway (a laundry basket makes a convenient temporary container).
  • Scan your living spaces for unnecessary everyday items. Even things you use regularly might be in the way during a party. Clear your walkways and tabletops to make plenty of room for guests to rest plates or glasses.
  • Wash your throw rugs and set them aside until the day of the party.

Editor's Tip: Draft laundry baskets as organizing tools. Label a basket for each member of your family. As you're clearing clutter from your living spaces, drop the items into the owner's basket. Ask each family member to put away the items in his or her basket.

Day 5: Attack the Kitchen

You'll need your kitchen in tip-top shape for party prep. Scrub now so everything is ready when it's time to prepare and serve the party food.

If you've been able to keep your kitchen relatively clean, this deep-cleaning will be a breeze. Pay attention to areas you typically save for spring cleaning, and then check the kitchen off your list.

If your daily obligations have caused some kitchen cleanup tasks to build up, now is the time to attack them with vigor. Use the party deadline to make progress.

  • Clean out the refrigerator. Discard any expired food and leftovers that have outlived their edibility. Make room in the refrigerator for party food. Move large containers and infrequently used items to the back. Make room in the freezer for ice for the party.
  • Wipe down the refrigerator, including the top, and all large and small appliances. If they're not needed, tuck small appliances away to give you more working room on your countertops.
  • Clean the range or cooktop, including all the surfaces and grates.
  • Use an appropriate household cleaner to wash off cabinet doors, frames, drawers, and handles.
  • Clean the floor.
  • Empty recycling containers into outdoor bins or take material to be recycled to the recycling facilities.
Day 6: Polish the Party Spaces

As the day of the party approaches, turn your attention to polishing the spaces where guests will spend the most time during the party.

Don't fret over the spaces. Follow your list and imagine the area filled with mingling guests. Take this opportunity to make sure the party area reflects the atmosphere you want to present to guests.

Every party space will have unique cleaning requirements. Start with these basics.

  • Dust all surfaces, including bookshelves, framed photos and art, knickknacks, displayed china, and other decorative pieces.
  • Dust the ceiling fans. Guests will notice the brighter look, and it might even make the air seem a bit fresher.
  • Sweep the entryway. Add decorative touches to your front door as desired.
  • Clean the kitchen sinks. Giving them a good scrub now will make quick work of refreshing them just before the party. Wash the dish drainer, too.
  • Handle any specialty cleaning you noted in your original list. If something bothered you when you did your original walk-through, take care of it before the day of the party.

Party time is drawing near. The tips on the next page will help you breeze through last-minute cleaning.

Day 7: Touch Up for the Party

A few things always have to be finished just before guests arrive. Use this smart strategy and a cleaning checklist to have your home shipshape in plenty of time for the party.

All of these tasks are intended to simply refresh the hard work you've already completed. To make the touch-ups go even faster, ask your family to help with these easy jobs.

Don't linger on these cleaning tasks. You've done the hard work ahead of time. Now the spaces just need a final polish.

  • Use household cleaner and paper towels to give bathroom surfaces a quick shine. Pay attention to water spots and residue on the faucet and liquid soap dispenser. Hide toiletries and countertop clutter in an out-of-the-way spot.
  • Clean bathroom mirrors. A sparkling mirror reflects the light and makes everything brighter.
  • Use a damp towel to clean the bathroom floor.
  • Apply toilet bowl cleaner, and give the toilets a quick brushing.
  • Hang fresh hand towels in the bathrooms. Put out fresh hand soap or fill the liquid soap dispensers.
  • Vacuum the carpets and use a dust mop on hard-surface floors in your living spaces.
  • Fluff sofa cushions and pillows. Straighten stacks of magazines or books. Fold or arrange throws. Make sure tabletops are clear of clutter and dust-free.
  • Damp-mop the kitchen floor.
  • Polish kitchen counters, faucets, and sinks with household cleaner and paper towels.
  • Empty the trash from the containers throughout the house. Wipe off the outsides of your trash receptacles. Insert clean liners. This simple detail makes the kitchen and all your guest spaces feel fresher.
  • Set up your party area. Arrange fresh flowers. Light candles. Turn on music. Set up your food and beverage stations. Finish food preparation.

Don't let cleaning eat up your party preparation time. It needn't be the thing that fills your days. Use these hints and tips for cleaning to develop a plan that leaves you relaxed and confident with a home that shines.

Editor's Tip: When suddenly guests are expected in an hour or two, don't panic. Use our 1-Hour Quick-Clean Checklist, available below, to help you get your house ready fast.

Get our 1-Hour Quick-Clean Checklist.

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