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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners 8/6

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I live in a city that many want either to move to or to visit. As such, we frequently host guests for overnights, long weekends or longer stays. These visitors run the gamut from those trying to get back on their feet, to tourists, to family, to out-of-state friends we invite to stay with us.

My parents taught me that, as a houseguest, I should clean up after myself during my visit and right before I leave. I find that very few of our guests do the same and that, often, our guest room and bath are left in a condition I wouldn’t leave a hotel room in.

Here’s what I generally expect (and would do myself as a guest):

• Take used plates and other dishes to the sink. Bring takeout food containers to the garbage can.

• Bring wrappers/food remnants from snacks consumed in the guest room to a garbage can, rather than leaving them on the nightstand or floor for the host to clean up after the visit.

• Wipe up any gross messes in the bathroom: bathtub hair collages, spittle on the mirror, beard/hair/nail clippings on the counter, phlegm in the sink or tub, visible stains in the toilet.

• If a pet is visiting, too, clean up pet accidents as they occur; don’t leave used potty pads on the floor at the end of the visit. Pick up deposits from the yard.

My husband, who is also tired of these messes, insists that guests might not know that these things are expected and that we need to post a checklist in the guest room. I think these expectations should go without saying, but I’ve clearly been proven wrong.

So, should we post a list and risk insulting the courteous guests? Or give guests a checkout list as they prepare to leave if they have proven themselves to be messy during their stay? We’ve already been telling more people, “No, staying with us won’t work, unfortunately” to reduce the cleaning load, but we’d still like to host friends, visitors who can’t afford hotels, and those in need.

Are my expectations of “cleaning up after oneself” unrealistic?

GENTLE READER: If you have already eliminated the most guilty candidates, perhaps you can now be reasonably certain that the remaining guests will behave. Miss Manners will not usually approve gossip, but if you suspect it may be necessary, a few well-positioned statements – “It is such a pleasure to have you at our house. You will never believe what some of our guests have put us through” – may serve as a warning. Whether the first part is actually true or not.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We have three kids, the oldest of which is getting married this fall. We expect the other two to be married next year. My wife and I have been married for 36 years now. What is an appropriate gift from me to her for these weddings?

GENTLE READER: A sympathetic ear when your children drive her crazy planning their weddings.

Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website

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