We’ve all had that moment before our guests arrive when we realize that the house is a mess and we don’t have time to do the deep-clean we aspired to that morning. When this happens, you have two options—you can panic, get nothing done, and do the awkward “sorry about the mess” performance when your guests arrive; or you take a deep breath, put on your Super Hostess cape, and follow these simple tips for getting your home cleaned up quick when you’re short on time.
You don’t have to clean the whole house when you’re in a time crunch, just the rooms you know people are going to see. So figure out where you need to focus your attention on and close off access to the rooms you don’t have time for. Your guests will most likely be sticking to the kitchen and the living room, so you can probably skip the upstairs. Make sure to close the doors of rooms you don’t want people to go into—out of sight, out of mind!
In a high-pressure, time-sensitive situation, you don’t have time to freak out or forget things, so take a minute to come up with a game plan. Write down the rooms you need to tackle and the basic actions you need to perform in those rooms.
Attack in Zones
Now that you have your plan, attack the mess one room at a time, trying to spend no more than 10-15 minutes in each zone.
- Living Room: Scan the room, grab any loose items, like remotes, and throw them in a drawer. Any dishes should be returned to the sink and any garbage should be thrown out. Straighten up any books or magazines on the coffee table. Fluff the pillows and toss them artfully on the couch. Do a quick wipe down of all the flat surfaces (including the TV) and if you have time, try to vacuum a bit.
- Kitchen: Get all the dishes out of the sink and into the dishwasher. Take a minute to clear off all the counters—food items should go back in the fridge and any odds and ends can be thrown in a drawer, to be dealt with later. Wipe down the counters and the appliances as necessary and give the floor a quick sweep.
- Bedroom: Take a minute to make your bed—it has a surprisingly big impact. Look around and grab anything that’s on the floor—laundry should go in the hamper and everything else should be put away. If you have an excessive amount of stuff on your dresser or bedside table, sweep it all into a drawer or throw it in the closet and deal with it later. The less clutter you can have on your flat surfaces, the tidier your bedroom will appear. Vacuum if you have time.
- Bathroom: Put away any loose items that are by the sink or vanity. Wipe down the sink and the mirror and give the toilet a quick scrub. Empty the trashcan and Swiffer the floor if there is time.
- Breathe! Once you’ve completed the zones and checked everything off your list, take a deep breath. You did it! Crisis averted.