Speed Cleaning Tips to Fake a Clean House for an Unexpected Guest
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, and she tells you she's in the neighborhood and wants to stop by. She'll be there in 15 minutes.
Your eyes grow large as you take in the kitchen, where dishes languish in the sink, sticky residue clings to countertops and floors, and garbage threatens to spill from the trash can. The bathroom isn't any better, with a grimy countertop, a toilet bowl that hasn't been scrubbed in a while, a floor with hair all over it, and a shower glazed with soap residue. And your cozy living room teems with clutter, including blankets that have fallen onto a floor that clearly needs vacuuming and stacks of mail that have been strewn across the coffee and side tables.
Instead of turning out all the lights and standing perfectly still when your mom knocks, try speed cleaning your place. To help you out, we asked Supermaids owner and housecleaner Jessica Flumerfelt for advice on how to fake a clean house when company unexpectedly drops by. She conferred with her staff and came up with these cleaning tips:
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.
3. Move on to the Kitchen.
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.
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.
It's very possible to speed clean your house in 15 minutes and make it presentable enough for company. Or you could take Jessica's advice and clean often. "Make a habit out of putting stuff away and wiping down counters and surfaces regularly. It's much easier to clean a house if it's already halfway done," she says. You could also hire a cleaning crew once a month or so to perform a deeper clean and make your speed cleaning even easier.
Essential Cleaning Supplies
Speed cleaning your place requires you to have certain cleaning products and tools on hand. Here's what Jessica recommends:
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.