1. Tackle the Three T’s: Television, Toilets, Tabletops
Bare minimum: If you only have one minute to clean, getting the dust and visible grime off these three surfaces will make a huge difference.
Next level: After you get the dust off, spray the kitchen and bathroom countertops and the toilet with a disinfectant that also smells good. (We love the basil scent from Mrs. Meyers.)
2. Go With the Flow
Bare Minimum: Start your cleaning in the first place your guests will see (the entryway) and move in the direction they’ll move toward the living room/wherever they will end up. Clean those surfaces/get rid of the clutter in these places first, that way you’ll spend your minimal cleaning time on what matters.
Next Level: Get out your Swiffer and/or vacuum and clean the floor in the path that your guests will take: Entryway → Hallway → Living Room → Bathroom → etc.
3. Guest-Proof the Bathroom
Bare Minimum: Flush the toilet, close the drawers, cabinets, and shower curtain. Hang a bathrobe over any wet hanging towels.
Next Level: Use one paper towel or rag to quick swipe the mirrors, the faucet, the inside of the sink, and finally the toilet seat — in that order.
4. Clear the Clutter
Bare Minimum: Stack things like remotes, books, and other randoms in size order to give it the appearance of organization. Put all the visible clutter into a laundry basket and stash it in a room with a closed door.
Next Level: Put things in baskets according to the room they actually belong in, that way you can clean up even easier once your company is gone.
5. Switch Your Linens
Bare Minimum: Replace dirty dish towels and bathroom hand towels with clean ones.
Next Level: Spray them with starch to make them look ironed.
6. Get Rid of Pet Hair
Bare Minimum: Flip the sofa and chair cushions over and voila: no more pet hair! (As long as the other side isn’t also covered in pet hair). Toss a clean throw over the back of any furniture with attached cushions that you can’t flip.
Next Level: Use a vacuum, lint roller, or a rubber glove to quickly get the pet hair off all your upholstery.
7. “Do” the Dishes
Bare Minimum: In a pinch, if your dishwasher is full or if you don’t have one, stash dirty dishes in the oven. It will look cleaner than having them in the sink. (Just make sure not to forget and turn the oven on!)
Next Level: Fill a bucket (or an extra bathtub if you’re sure no one will see it) with hot soapy water and stash dirty dishes there, so they’ll be easier to clean once you have time.
8. Good Scents
Bare Minimum: Spray Febreze air freshener or upholstery spray in the room your guests will be in the most.
Next Level: Put on a small pot of water to simmer and fill it with any mix of the following that you have: Cinnamon, lemon or citrus peel, nutmeg, cloves, ginger. It will fill up your house with a good smell and the citrus especially will mask any other unpleasant odors.
9. Lighten the Mood
Bare Minimum: If it’s daytime, open the windows for a brighter cleaner looking space. If it’s nighttime, turn overhead lights off and use lamps instead. Low lighting makes your home feel cozier and also hides any imperfections (aka dirt).
Next Level: Light some candles — or several. Just make sure that if the candles are scented they’re all the same scent.
11. Bring in Shiny, Pretty Things
Bare Minimum: Put something shiny or reflective in the room, like a vase or a mirror, to keep people’s attention away from other less clean areas.
Next Level: Position a light near or across from the shiny things to really amp up the brightness.
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