How to Be a Welcome Guest by Being a Clean Guest

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Whether you're a guest in someone's home for 20 minutes or two weeks, be sure your actions don't create a mess or tension between you and the host. Be a good guest by minding your manners, and you'll likely score an invitation to visit again.

Follow these tips to be an ideal guest:

  • Let your host set the cleanliness standard: Take a quick look at your host's footwear whilst you're still on the porch, or on a mat. If she's wearing socks, but no shoes or slippers, this may be the dress code of the home. Most of the dirt that comes into a house does so through the shoes of people who walk around in it.

    Your host might also have new, pale rugs or a just-cleaned carpet she is concerned about. So ask right away if she'd like you to slip off your shoes too (but for goodness sake, keep your socks on). Once you step into the lounge (living room), it's too late.

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Daniel Mirer 2008]
    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Daniel Mirer 2008
  • Watch where you walk and sit: Be alert for the unexpected when you walk around someone's home for the first time. A busy home with young children may have toys on the floor. Step on anything plastic, and you could break something irreplaceable. An immaculate, ordered room might have breakable ornaments perilously close to the edge of ledges and shelves. The people who live here are careful, so you need to slow down and take care, too.

    On chairs, be aware that if you've come out of the wet (rain or snow), you could create a water stain on upholstery; or dye from an untreated leather belt or bag could transfer to a pale fabric.

    If you do damage or break something, apologize immediately and offer to have it professionally cleaned, repaired or replaced. And absolutely follow through on your word.

  • Look for mats, covers, and coasters to keep things clean: Never assume that it's okay to put a drink straight down onto a hard surface. If you can't see a mat on the table, ask about one. If your host is out of the room hold onto your hot drink or create a makeshift safe place using a newspaper or magazine. A book may be okay, too, but only if you're sure that there are no drips on your mug. (If your host is a book lover, this is a huge no-no.)

  • Help yourself, but clean up after yourself: Check the location of the paper towels (or a clean sponge or cloth) before you prepare any snacks or drinks. Avoid using the last of anything. Should you get a spill, it won't become a problem if you can mop it away at once. Equipment you're not familiar with can make you clumsy. So use a corkscrew over the sink.

  • Pick up the signal on smoking: Never light up without asking first, even if you are in an outside room or the garden. Have a contingency plan, if you're a heavy smoker, for where to go. Don't neglect ash and stubs. No one wants to find a pile of evidence by their favourite spot in the garden!

    Indoors, putting still-warm cigarette stubs into a waste bin can cause fires. Let your host take charge of ashtrays.


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