Everything I know about house cleaning could fit in a small mop bucket. Not that I own one, but I’ve seen them, so I have a general sense of the dimensions.

1. Host everything. Sometimes a little incentive’s necessary, which is why an impending audience is handy for motivating the terminally messy to pick up the pace and get the place clean.

2. Tackle the bathroom first. Nothing says I need a good scrubbing like toothpaste bits and water spots on the mirror. Plus it’s the easiest room in the house to sparklefy, especially if you employ the shower curtain in the manner in which it was intended: to hide a bathtub rim cluttered with shampoos, soaps, razors, and three types of conditioner.

3. Marry well. My husband is more sensitive to mess than I am, which means that he’s more than willing to pitch in and shovel out the clutter whenever necessary. His latest project? Mucking out both of our sheds. I came out one evening last week to find him vacuuming the rafters in the carport shed. When he noticed me watching him in astonishment, he cheerfully pointed out that he had “vacuumed up enough spider silk to make a blouse”. Although I kindly turned down his offer, I can see how cleaning can have other advantages I haven’t yet foreseen.

4. Squirt, leave, return. Household chemicals work so much better when left to settle for a while. A toilet bowl soaked in bleach-infused cleanser for an hour doesn’t even require a good scrubbing — a flush will do. Plus the lovely chemical smell adds to the illusion of a germ-free environment.

5. Mess is obvious; cleanliness is not. No one notices a nice, neat house. It’s not fair. Get used to it.

6. Learn how to apologize for the mess. I’ve honed this one to a fine art, asking people to excuse the mess, even if I’ve spent the last three hours tidying and the visitor in question is selling something and therefore won’t make it through the half-closed front door.

7. Hire someone. If only! Still, one can dream.

As I said — a small mop bucket of info. Other suggestions for the cleaning-impaired?