Speed Cleaning Tips for When Unexpected Guests Arrive

BY: Colleen Loggins Loster |Nov 21, 2017

Picture this: you're lounging around your place on a lazy Sunday afternoon, content to curl up on the couch and watch Netflix all day. Then suddenly, your phone buzzes. It's your mother-in-law, and she tells you she's in the neighborhood and wants to stop by. She'll be there in 15 minutes. It's time for a little speed cleaning—but where to start?

Sure, you could turn out all the lights and stand perfectly still when your in-laws knock. Or, you could try these house cleaning tips from Supermaids owner and housecleaner Jessica Flumerfelt. Below, we list her advice on how to clean your house fast during those times when company unexpectedly drops by.

1. Prioritize the Bathroom

Even if the whole house is a mess, head to the bathroom first. "Everyone uses the bathroom, and it is full of germs," Jessica explains, adding that because people usually spend some time in the bathroom, they're more likely to notice things around them that are dirty. Plus, people who stop by for a quick chat tend to want to use the bathroom at some point, especially if they have a bit of a drive ahead of them, so make sure you focus your speed cleaning efforts here.

Clean the toilet, then the countertop.

Jessica recommends cleaning the toilet if it has any visible stains that might make your guest feel uncomfortable. But if it doesn't seem that bad, move on to the countertop. "You can always just take a quick wipe to the counter to remove spots and sticky soap or toothpaste residue. No one wants to go in and wash their hands and end up with blobs of blue toothpaste on their clothes." If there's visible hair on the floor, quickly sweep it up.

Pro Tip: Keep your cleaning supplies handy, storing bathroom cleaning products in the bathroom, for example, instead of a hall closet. "That way, if you see your toilet is dirty, you can just reach under the sink and spray in some cleaner and be done with it," Jessica advises.


Ignore the shower.

"I don't think people will welcome themselves to a shower unexpectedly. Just close the curtain/door, fold some decorative towels to put on the towel rack, and call it good," Jessica says.

2. Pick Up the Living Room Clutter

"This is just about what your guests are going to notice first," Jessica says. She suggests throwing all your clutter into a box or laundry basket and sticking it in a closet to deal with later.

Depending on how much clutter you had, you probably have about 5–8 minutes left at this point, which should be enough time to whip the kitchen into passable shape.

3. Move on to the Kitchen.

Do whatever you can to get rid of the dirty dishes.

"A stack of dishes in the sink is very obvious, not to mention that if left out for certain amount of time, it will begin to smell," Jessica says. If you have a dishwasher, throw whatever will fit in there to hide it. You can always go back later to take out the bigger pots and rearrange the plates. If you don't have a dishwasher, start cleaning the bigger pots and pans first. Putting those away will make it seem like there are fewer dirty dishes. Quickly wipe down the most noticeable stains on the countertops and floors.

Pro Tip: Cleaning goes even faster when you use both hands. Try scrubbing a counter with two sponges or spraying cleaning solution with one hand and wiping it away with the other.


Leave the trash for later.

Of all of the things to focus on while speed cleaning, Jessica thinks the trash is the least important because most people have it concealed, either by a lid or under the cabinet. "Plus, I don't think it would be rude to quickly take the trash out while your guests are there. Trash happens." However, if the garbage has started to make the kitchen smell, take it out as soon as possible. Then light some candles, spritz some air freshener, or open a window.

4. Keep Essential Cleaning Supplies on Hand

Speed cleaning your place requires you to have certain cleaning products and tools ready to go. Here's what Jessica recommends keeping around:

  • Clorox Clean-Up for sinks and other bathroom surfaces
  • Sprayway World's Best Glass Cleaner for shiny windows, mirrors, and metal fixtures
  • PineSol or OdoBan, disinfectants that "you can use pretty much everywhere: counters, cabinets, walls, floors, etc."
  • Murphy Oil Soap for almost everything, especially wood floors. "It works just as well as more expensive products."
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser: "Anything that cannot get cleaned with a typical cleaner and sponge holds no match to a Magic Eraser."
  • Easy-Off oven cleaner and soap-filled SOS pads to get "almost any burnt-on food off any stove" (don't use on glass tops)
  • Vacuum with a hose attachment: "I don't even bother with sweeps; a vacuum works better most of the time and is definitely quicker." Use the hose for dusting and getting cobwebs away from the ceiling.
  • Libman Wonder Mop, whose microfiber head uses little water, making it good for all floors. The heads can be washed in the washing machine, so the mops are "great for longevity."

Pro Tip: "Don't buy into all the gimmicky cleaners or cleaners with big names and big price tags. Most things can be cleaned with soap, water, and a little elbow grease," Jessica advises.