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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Prep Your Guest Bath for the Holidays

When you've kept up your bathroom(s) through a daily swish-and-swipe throughout the year, having guests over at any time shouldn't be such a big deal. If you haven't been doing a little bit of bathroom cleaning every day, I recommend that you start now- the earlier you start cleaning a bit at a time, the less work there will be to do on the actual days you have people over for the holidays. Please read my previous blog post on how to clean your bathroom little-by-little if this is something you've been struggling with. My goal is for you to be able to actually enjoy your own gathering this year, accepting compliments on your home with pride while feeling calm, cool & collected. Last year was the first time that I entertained & actually felt this way. I was able to relax, focus on my conversation with family & savor the great food I made. I hadn't been up all night cleaning before the family gathering, I was not making a mad dash to the grocery store at the last minute over forgotten items & dinner got on the table at exactly the minute I wanted it to! I'd gotten plenty of rest, the house looked wonderful & smelled great, too. I had plenty of time to shower, dress nicely (I wore an apron over my clothes to keep them that way), put on some jewelry, get made up, spritz on a little perfume, etc. My uncle kept saying how lovely the home looked, which meant a lot to me, as he's not one to give empty compliments. My mother actually marveled at how easy I made entertaining look! When I was growing up, entertaining meant my mother staying up all night cleaning top-to-bottom like a fiend, with her showering about a half-hour before guests were due to arrive, screaming & yelling at anyone she ran into along the way. I can't even begin to tell you how many arguments, hurtful words, blood, sweat & tears were spent on that nonsense. Don't live like this. And if you're a parent, don't put your kids through this. You deserve better & you can have the peaceful home that we should all possess in this season.

Make sure to put out a hand towel for your guests in the bathroom. There's nothing worse than needing to use someone else's restroom, only to find they've got nothing available to wipe your clean hands on but their used bath towel! Purchase a few inexpensive hand towels to keep out, not only for guests, but for your own family. Wash them in a small amount of powdered detergent with hot water before putting them out the first time, to increase their absorbency. Change the hand towel every day or every other day depending upon how much it gets used. Write this down in your routines if you're not in the habit already of changing the towels. Hand towel racks can be free-standing or placed over a bathroom cabinet, if you don't have an extra towel rod to hang them from. These come in lots of different finishes now. If you have the tools and the wall space, consider adding a hand towel holder permanently to your bathroom. This will free up vanity space & make your bathroom look even more organized. If you can find a storage shelf or cabinet with a towel rack built in, so much the better. This will give even more room for storing cosmetics, toiletries & first-aid supplies year-round.

If you don't want to use actual guest towels that you have to wash, paper fingertip towels are a great disposable but nice-looking option. I highly recommend them in the quest for keeping some germs at bay in the bathroom.

Take a look at the towels you already own to see what condition they're in. This is a good time to purge old ratty towels, sheets & other linens that have seen better days. Torn-up ones with holes, just trash- don't even think twice. But ones that just have a little fraying at the edges or have gotten thin might still have some life left in them. Most animal shelters are grateful to take somewhat-worn but clean towels & blankets for their furry friends to snuggle in. Call one or two up & see if you can drop these off at the local animal shelter or Humane Society for good use. This should be a time of year where we all feel the spirit of giving. Many people have sadly been displaced by either natural disasters, evictions or foreclosures in this depressed economy. Gently-used but clean towels, linens & blankets could be exactly what a local homeless shelter needs, if an animal shelter doesn't. If you're tired of your linens or they've worn a little thin, the shelters may be glad to take them off your hands. Always call them first to check on this, though. (If you do a giveaway like this, make sure to wash everything you give first in hot water & powder detergent. Use some Clorox bleach in the washer if the items are white, to make them extra fresh & bright. Hot water & the heat from a dryer will kill dust mites & remove body oils, hair + skin cells from the linens. Put the dry items in a white or clear, clean trashbag before giving away.)

If you'll be having overnight guests, consider carefully whether or not you need to buy additional washcloths, bath towels, an over-the-door towel rack and/or spare hooks so that people can hang up their towels, robes, nightgowns or clothes. An expansive line of 3M products also exists these days to add hooks anywhere you like. These little wonders also come in a variety of finishes & a water-resistant one exists for shower storage. These are awesome for hanging up back brushes with a rope loop, net bath sponges, shower caps & anything else that needs it's own little hook. Take a good look at your shower caddy, if you own one. If it's all gunky with old soap, product residue or is rusting, toss it & buy a new one.

I would suggest putting out a room freshener or sanitizer that guests can easily see & use if they feel the need to. Lysol Disinfectant Spray is fine, but some other options smell even nicer, such as an orange-based room spray or Febreze Meadows & Rain. Or you can choose to put out an automatic air freshener that will periodically send a burst of fresh fragrance into the room. I like a neutral & natural scent such as lemon, orange or vanilla myself. These automatic machines run on a timer, and most will spray every nine, eighteen or thirty-six minutes. They take a battery or two to run on, but seem to last a long time without having batteries change. The sprays you place within them, which are refillable, also seem to last quite a long time before needing a replacement.

If there won't be young children around or you decide to choose a flameless option, having a candle or two out is a warm, inviting addition for the guest bath. Subtly-scented candles will also help mask any unwanted odors, as well.

*I would not suggest adding a major bathroom chore such as repainting or putting down a new floor at this time of year, unless you absolutely love doing this type of thing or it is just an absolute necessity due to damage from a natural disaster or some other such issue. Some people are so skilled they can get this type of big thing done in a weekend, and if you are, consider yourself very lucky & very talented. If you have a little paint on hand & you want to do a touch-up on corners or a couple of other spots, that's fine. But don't add large, unrealistic household renovations or projects at this busy time of year unless they are of absolute necessity. I know that we all want our home to look great for holiday guests, especially ones that we don't get to visit with often, but adding a monumental household overhaul to the holiday season usually just adds stress/arguments/exhaustion to one's life. If your floor could look better, clean it very well by hand & then maybe add a fresh, new bathroom rug to the area for when people step out of the shower. There are some floor finish or shine products out there, but in a bathroom, you need to be very careful applying these, as they can make a floor more slippery. A bathroom is of course going to experience more moisture than your kitchen floor, so even if that shine product helps your kitchen floor look great, be cautious about using it in the bathroom. If you're at all unsure about applying this or any other treatment to your floor, I would skip it for now. If you have friends or family over that are so critical of your home after you've cleaned it well that they'd still say something nasty...well, you can probably already guess what I'd have to say back to them. ;)*

Guest Bathroom Holiday Supply List (purchase as needed or desired)
All-purpose disinfecting cleaner or spray bleach (for toilets, floors, bathtubs, etc.)_
Cleaning wipes, such as Lysol or Clorox- I'm a big believer in using washable white cleaning cloths & a spray cleaner, but wipes like these are great when you need to do a really quick disinfecting job. I'd definitely keep these around if young children are around, because accidents can happen & it's important to sanitize spaces afterwards if they do._
Extra bar soap, bath salts, body wash and/or bubble bath, if you'll be having overnight guests_
Facial tissues_
First-aid kit, if you don't already own one or have supplies on hand_
Glass cleaner, such as Windex or white vinegar (whatever you like best for cleaning mirrors & glassware)_
Hand/guest towels_
Liquid hand soap_
New washcloths, bath towels and/or bathroom rug, only if needed_
Plastic grocery bags or trash can liners_
Pump bottle of hand sanitizer_
Room freshener/sanitizing spray_
Scrubbing Bubbles or another good tile & tub cleaner, if you need to do some deep-cleaning prior to maintenance clean-up_
Toilet paper_

You can also download my above list for printing free on Scribd:

Here's to having an organized holiday season,

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