Does Your House Have to Be Clean?

When I think of hosting in our home, the first thing that comes to mind is all the cleaning I’ll have to do.  Sometimes it’s hard to get beyond that issue, so that I just end up dropping the idea of having people over.  How can I change my attitude about cleaning so that it doesn’t hinder hospitality in our house?

Last week we had friends over for a dinner, and I didn’t clean my house!  It was an internal war inside – do I vacuum, dust and clean – or just let it go?

I’ll admit it.  Sometimes I can be pretty lazy when it comes to deep-cleaning my house. A quick pick-up is definitely easier and quicker!

But what will my guests think?

Will they even notice?


Recently a friend shared her struggles with me, admitting that her house having to be perfect was the main reason she hadn’t had anyone over in months. It’s a shame, too, because she has a cute apartment within walking distance of her church.

She’s afraid to have people over because most of her friends are neat-freaks, and she’s afraid her place won’t meet their standards.


When it comes to hospitality, we often lose our focus as life gets hurried and complicated. We dash around doing things that really don’t matter (like cleaning the house before the guests arrive!), and then our perspective shifts. We get so caught up in our present circumstances, trying to make things so perfect, that we can’t see beyond our difficulties.

Over the years I’ve learned to ask myself this:  Would I rather continue on with what had already been a peaceful day – or kick it up a notch, running around crazily trying to make everything look just right?  I won’t even mention what kind of mood that puts the whole family in.

I’ve learned to prioritize what the important aspects of entertaining are (obviously getting the food on the table in a timely manner), and I’ve decided that a happy family and a relaxed hostess are way more important to me than having things perfect.


We had such a great time with our guests, but it’s so easy to get our perspective out of balance. At one point I found myself looking down at the un-vacuumed carpet. For a split second I was embarrassed. Then I looked up into the faces of those around our table and my perspective shifted back into place.

It’s not about the crumbs on the floor or the disorganized piles around the house.  It’s not even that I am lazy when it comes to house cleaning. I definitely don’t fall into the mold of being a neat freak!  I just tend to have a very busy, hectic schedule at times and I’m trying to prioritize what really matters.

I’d rather keep strong friendships going than give them up for a clean house.

Does your house have to be perfectly clean before you’ll invite others in?

©2009, Sandy Coughlin

11 comments for “Does Your House Have to Be Clean?

  1. Sharon Neff
    May 8, 2009 at 8:35 AM

    This is wonderful. But what if your husband is the neat freak and does not want company until the house is “perfect”? He has started helping a little to get ready, but I rarely have people over because of this.

  2. June 25, 2009 at 4:39 AM

    Not perfectly clean. But it has to be clean as per my standards. With or without guests. There should be no dust and clutter. Things should be in place.

    I am not a neat freak at all. But I like things neat as often as possible. Then again there are days that I don’t get the time. So I don’t get tensed or worked up about it.

    If I have to get worried about what my friends will think or say, then I think there is more than that to worry about. Rally I should be worrying about ‘are they my true friends’?

    Once we moved into a house (rented). We had no furniture and no carpet either.
    My kitchen and bedroom were the only places that were set. I invited a few friends for dinner and you know we all spread a bed sheet on the floor and ate our dinner like that. Had lots of laughs. That was a memorable time.

    You are doing the right thing by prioritizing. Your friends will surely understand that you are busy. It is more important to have real relationships rather than fake praises.

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  8. October 10, 2010 at 3:40 AM

    Most definitely….I dont like a cluttered home. I have some things from my Thirty One Gifts business to accentuate it. But thank you for this post!

  9. April 22, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    I am a neat freak, my house is always clean and people comment on it a lot. But, if I wasn’t, it wouldn’t stop me from hosting. In fact I have seen people compare themselves unfavorably to my cleanliness which has made me feel badly. But, I find that most of the people I know, simply never invite people back including me. I have friends that come to me many times over and I have seen their house maybe once! It’s a shame hospitality isn’t extended because we’re too busy or just enjoying someone else’s efforts all the time.

  10. Emily's Mommy
    April 25, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    What a great site! I am a residential cleaner and let me tell you, you are not alone in thinking this. We often have women who clean before we come over to clean! It sounds absurd, but I can understand. I just say, “I’m not here to judge, I’m here to make your life easier.” I think every women feels insecure about their house, that’s what makes us women. I take pride in my home, and I’m sure you do too. People always assume that since I’m a house cleaner, that my house is spotless. They couldn’t be more wrong. Who wants to come home from work and continue working at their house for free? Anyways, didn’t mean to turn this into my own personal forum. Just wanted to tell you that you aren’t alone in these thoughts and feelings. God Bless…..

  11. mzstrz
    September 27, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    When we enter into the Throne Room of God… will there be dust bunnies? In the mansion He has prepared for you, will there be dishes in the sink? On the streets paved of gold, will there be a discarded bike and 3 days worth of newspapers? Seriously though, take care of what God has/is/will bless you with. Do it immediately…#1 finish dinner #2 plates in dishwasher #3 check for crumbs… all done. You can entertain all you want (with out worry) if you simply finish what you start, before moving on to the next thing.

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