These quick cleaning hacks will have your house (mostly) clean and guest ready in less than ten minutes each.
I love having people over. And I know this might sound weird, but I actually love it when friends drop by with little or no notice. Why? Because then I have the perfect excuse for my messy house!
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting you or I would have cleaned up!”
My close friends know this is just a silly farce. A socially acceptable way of explaining away the piles of laundry on the couch, just waiting to be folded. Or the dishes filling the sink and spilling over onto the counter. Or the dust bunnies swirling around the baseboards of the hallway.
I don’t have the cleanest house, but that doesn’t really bother me (or my family) most of the time.
The exception is when I know someone is coming over. Then I feel like I really ought to do something about those dust bunnies. So I’ve developed this cheat sheet for last minute cleaners like me. It’s a set of six high visibility cleaning tasks that will make your house sparkle and make your guests feel welcome, like you’ve been preparing for them for weeks.
(Speaking of preparing for guests, if you’re having guests over to stay with you, you might want to check out this comprehensive house cleaning guide to clean your house fast between guests.)
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When to Use These Quick Cleaning Hacks
First, let’s talk about when NOT to use these hacks. These cleaning shortcuts are not:
- A replacement for regular actual cleaning. You know, the kind that keeps your house safe and healthy.
- A trick to make your friends feel bad because you have it all together.
- A guarantee that your mother-in-law will be impressed. That’s a topic for another blog post.
So when do you want to use these cleaning hacks?
- When a friend calls you up to see if you’re free for dinner, and you are but you have to do it at home because your kids will be home any minute from karate.
- When your husband comes home from work and tells you his buddies are coming over this evening for a beer.
- When you don’t really want to clean, but you also don’t want the dust bunnies chasing you down the hallway.
My 6 Favorite Quick Cleaning Hacks
It’s no secret that I hate to clean. It just feels so futile, especially when you have kids or dogs, or if you live in the dusty desert like me. But I do like having a clean home, so I’m always looking for the shortest possible path to getting a clean (enough) house.
Enter these basic cleaning tasks that each take less than ten minutes.
You can decide whether to do them all back to back (which will take about an hour), or split them up and do one or two every day so you can stay on track with minimal effort. Or best of all, you can delegate some to your kids, husband, or roommates, so you don’t have to do them all yourself!
1. Banish Dishes and Wipe Table, Counters
When friends are coming over for any kind of food or drink, I like to have a clean kitchen. This doesn’t mean you have to clean out your fridge and organize your cabinets. It’s just nice to have a clean spot to sit at the table and a clean coffee cup to serve them.
So don’t get bogged down in cleaning up your whole kitchen. Just try to get most of the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, or at least corralled into the sink so they’re not spilling onto the countertops.
Then take a damp rag or Clorox wipe and wipe down the table you’ll be sitting at and the kitchen counter tops.
Voila! Instant sparkle and shine!
2. Clean Guest Bathroom
Of course, if you’re hanging out long enough over coffee, your guests might need to use the restroom. Here’s my trick to getting a clean bathroom super-fast.
First, swirl some toilet cleaner into the toilet bowl and give it a quick scrub with your toilet brush. Don’t forget to flush!
Then, take a Clorox wipe and swipe it first over the sink and faucet area, then the countertop, and finally the toilet. (This might take more than one wipe.)
When you’re doing the toilet, follow a top-down approach. Wipe the top of the tank and the handle, then the toilet cover, then the seat and outside of the bowl. Then pop the wipe right into the trash.
Toilet Cleaning Tip: Never go in reverse order with your wipe! Starting at the sink, then working your way down the toilet, keeps the worst of the germs heading in the direction of the trash, not in the direction of where people will touch surfaces with their hands.
3. Fold Blankets and Fluff Pillows
Once you’ve covered the hygienic areas of kitchen and bathroom, it’s time to move on to the sitting area, to make it look neat and comfortable.
Our family loves to snuggle with blankets and pillows while we’re watching TV in the evenings. By the end of the night the couch is covered with disheveled blankets, rumpled pillows, and usually a stray sock and dog toy. Much like making my bed, I don’t see the point in cleaning it up every day since we’re just going to get back into it at the end of the next day.
But when someone’s coming for a visit, it’s nice to have a sitting area that looks like you were expecting them.
Fortunately this is the easiest (and for me, most satisfying) cleaning job of all.
Simply fold the the blankets and drape them over the edges of the couch, or into a blanket basket. Then plump the pillows and put them back in place. Round up all the leftover kid socks and dog chewies, and toss them into one of the kids’ rooms. (They’ll find them later.)
All of the sudden, you’ve got a sitting room that looks like you were expecting company!
4. Sweep Hallways, Entryway
For some reason, the dust bunnies in our house like to hang out in our hallways, rather than under the bed like other more well-behaved dust bunnies. I’m not sure why this is, but my guess has something to do with the dog and the kids.
Unfortunately, this hallway makes up part of our front entryway, so it’s part of the first impression of our house. I get around this by “sweeping” frequently. (Picture me using exaggerated air quotes here.)
The word “sweep” should probably be replaced by “swipe” in this context. My sneaky secret here is to run a broom around the edges of the floor, where it meets the wall. Rather than fully sweeping the floor, simply drag the broom in one long motion around the edges, pulling all the dust bunnies along with you.
Start at one edge and without lifting up the broom, make a rectangular shaped circle (is that a thing or did I just break geometry?) around the hallway edges. When you get back to where you started, sweep up the pile of dust bunnies into the dustpan, and into the trash. That’s it!
Your friends probably won’t be inspecting your floor, so they wont notice if you’ve missed a spot. The point is to quickly gather up any obvious clumps of lint and dog hair and get them out of the way, in between regular actual floor cleaning.
5. Sweep and Cobweb Front Door Area
Have you ever stood at a friend’s front door after ringing the doorbell, desperately hoping your friend will get to you before the spiders do?
That’s why it’s a good idea to step outside your front door every once in a while and stand at the door as if you’re a guest. Look for any lurking spider webs, or any creepy crawlies that like to hang out in window sills and crevices.
Sweep out the cobwebs with a broom, and use a damp paper towel to quickly dust off any surfaces your guests might be touching or hanging out with while waiting for you to answer the door.
If you’re expecting company, make sure your front porch light is on to welcome them in!
6. Vacuum Main Carpets/Rugs
Finally, if you have time, take a few minutes to run your vacuum over any area rugs or carpet that your guests will be encountering during their visit. This is one of the least visible cleaning hacks, but if your friends have allergies, they’ll appreciate it.
Plus, if your friends have little kids, like most of mine do, they’ll be spending some time on the floor and you don’t want to worry about what they might find there.
More Cleaning Hacks
So those are a few of my dirty little secrets to how I get my house clean enough for last minute guests.
Full disclosure, they work better and faster if you do actually clean your home regularly, and they’re not meant to replace good cleaning habits. But when you’re in hurry, it’s nice to have a few tricks up your sleeve instead of feeling like you should turn away guests because your house isn’t clean enough for company.
Want more actual cleaning hacks? Try my anti-spring cleaning process. It’ll save you loads of time and keep you from getting overwhelmed by spring cleaning guilt!