House Cleaning Tips for the Desperate Host!
"Hi dear, it's your mother-in-law. We are about an hour away from you and thought we'd drop in to say hello and see the grandkids. Be there soon!"
Crap. Uninvited company will descend on your rat's nest of a home in less than one hour. How the heck do you clean a house that quickly? Your vision starts to blur, you begin hyperventilating, and decide that happy hour at the bar down the street sounds like a good idea.
Do not panic! This article will give you step by step instructions for spiffying up the house quickly before company comes. There is one disclaimer however: You must take off your "Martha Stewart Type A" vision or you will not like this plan.
Essential Cleaning Supplies You Should ALWAYS Have
It is nice to have these too
fresh lemon (to make things smell nice)
toilet bowl cleaner
All-purpose cleaning spray
Step One: Bathroom
This is the room most guests inspect the most critically. After all, sitting on the crapper for a few minutes means ample staring time at all the nooks and crannies. Not to mention, people are skeeved out by a dirty bathroom. Since you are on a 60 minute time schedule, you need to spend no more than 10 minutes in the bathroom! Set that timer and let's go!
- Take everything off the vanity countertop and stuff them in a drawer. If you can put away in the right place, even better. But just get stuff out of sight.
- Using a lysol wipe or paper towel and lysol spray, wipe down the toilet. Use a brush and scrub the inside quickly (spray a little lysol in the bowl). Take only two or three minutes to do this.
- Moving to the shower, quickly wipe down the tub edge, arrange the shampoos, and shut the curtain so the tub is blocked. No time to scrub the tile.
- Next, use a lysol wipe to wipe down the vanity sink and handles. It doesn't matter if the sink bowl is spotless, just rub down the handles and the faucet. Those are the shiny parts that people see.
- Wipe down the mirror quickly.
- With your last minute, get a broom and sweep up the dust from the corners. Do not mop the floor! You don't have time. If there is a spot, grab a lysol wipe and get it off.
- If you are on schedule, replace the dirty hand towels with a clean one and light a candle.
Time to move on!
Step Two: Living Room
This is where most people visit. It is also a heavily used room with lots of space. You have 50 minutes left, so let's spend no more than 15 minutes in the living room. Ready?
- Grab a garbage bag and quickly pick up anything that doesn't belong in the room (i.e. clothes, shoes, toys, books, magazines, etc.). Put that bag in a closet and tell yourself you will go through it after they leave. No need to run all over the house right now.
- Take out your vacuum and run it over the visible areas of the carpet. No need to move furniture or attack corners. Just get the spots where you know your guests will see.
- If you have pets, grab the hose from the vacuum and get up all that dog or cat hair. If it's really stuck on there, toss a throw blanket over the back of the chair or couch. You can also use duct tape or a sticky lint brush to get up the hair.
- Wipe down the coffee table with a cloth or lysol wipe, light a candle, and get rid of anything that doesn't need to be there.
If you have time after all that is done, you can use a duster to wipe off any obvious dust from picture frames and whatnot, but don't stress. Most people don't notice.
Interesting solutions to cleaning problems
- How to Do The Laundry So it Doesn't Rule Your Life
Battle the laundry monster and win.
- Small Houses- Smart Living
Just buy a smaller home. Cleaning problems solved!
Step Three: Dining Room
Okay, we have 35 minutes until people arrive. No more than 10 minutes in the dining room.
- Grab one of those garbage bags and pick up anything that doesn't belong. Sorting and organizing are for later.
- Quickly sweep the floor and wipe down the table. Make sure the table has nothing on it (remember the garbage bag). If you have a candle or vase of flowers, stick it in the center of the room.
- Use a duster and wipe off any areas on the hutch that look dusty.
- Put a large pitcher of ice water on the table with a couple of cups.
Here's a tip: Even if your house isn't clean, when you make small impressions (candles, water pitcher, etc.) people get distracted. They feel like you invited them because they notice the small touches and ignore the dusty corners. It's like a toddler. Distract, distract, distract!
Step Four: Kitchen
Chances are you will be working in this room preparing food, so we aren't going to spend too much time cleaning it up (since it will get dirty). 10 minutes here and we can come back to it later if you have a spare minute.
- Sweep the floor.
- Pick up everything off the counter that doesn't need to be there and stuff it in a bag or put it away.
- Wipe down the counters.
- Do you have a sink full of dirty dishes? You have some options: You can load the dishwasher (if it's empty). If your dishwasher is full of dirty dishes already, turn the damn thing on and run it. Now you will have to find a laundry basket or some big container. Take a deep breath and put all your dirty dishes in the container. Stick them out the back door or in a closet. You can clean them later when company leaves or the dishwasher gets emptied.
- Scrub the sink quickly and squirt some lemon juice so it smells nice.
- Light a candle or start cutting something up so it looks like you are working hard. It'll have a homier feel and they will be less likely to notice other imperfections.
- Take the garbage out.
15 minutes remaining...ack!
Okay, with your 15 minutes left, you might have to make some crucial decisions. You are feeling like Obama in the situation room right now I know. Take a deep breath. Here are some of your choices.
- Sweep the front room and shove all the shoes and coats into the closet.
- Pick up the littered lawn full of toys in the front yard.
- Make your bed if your nosy mother-in-law is the type to want to go in your room.
- Get yourself freshened up.
- Get onto cooking since you know she will want something to eat.
- Run through the house and stuff the hampers of dirty clothes in the laundry room.
If you have children, use them like slaves! Bribe them with money, do whatever it takes. They've got hands and even if you have them stick lysol wipes to the bottom of their feet, something is getting cleaned.
Once the guests leave...
- You will have to grab those dirty dishes and wash them! But hey, at least your sink is empty and the counters are wiped off!
- You will have to find those garbage bags, unload them, and deal with each item. You might find it isn't that stressful though since you went through the trouble of picking everything up already.
See, that wasn't so bad! In fact, your house is reasonably clean. Maybe this new method isn't all that bad. You see, the problem with people who get paralyzed when they clean, is that they see every detail and it overwhelms them to the point of doing nothing.
The FlyLady says it best (if you don't know her, look her up, she's hilarious),
"Imperfect housecleaning still blesses your home."
About the author
Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer and mother of three. She is the queen of desperate cleaning, since her small home not only holds children but four animals! She also writes interesting articles about psychology, music, and technology.
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