8 tricks to speed-clean your house before unexpected guests arrive

Have you ever noticed that when your friends unexpectedly pop by is also when your house is looking its worst? Or how about that last-minute call from your extended family telling you they are in the area and are going to be at your place shortly. I’m an expert in procrastination, and both of these situations have happened to me too many times. But I’ve learned how to quick-clean my home’s public spaces in 10 minutes or less. These tips are by no means ways to actually clean your home, but they will give the appearance of a respectable home when you’re short on time.

Hide the dirty dishes. Nothing makes a kitchen look worse than a sink full of dirty dishes. Put those used items in the dishwasher. If your dishwasher is full of clean dishes, put away just enough to make room for the dirty ones. It’s not a big deal to run the clean ones through another cycle after your guests leave. Don’t have a dishwasher? Fill a plastic tub with the dirty dishes and hide it in the cabinet under the sink. Just don’t forget that you put it there.

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Wipe, wipe, wipe. Use a clean, damp microfiber cloth and wipe over everything in your kitchen. Microfiber is a great tool, and all it takes is a little water and elbow grease. You don’t have to spray your counters or wipe them dry. Start at one end of your kitchen and wipe down all your appliances, countertops and the sink. The microfiber will remove food, fingerprints and dust all in one motion.

Bedrooms to the rescue. After you’ve got the kitchen looking presentable, move on to the entryway. This will be the first area your guests will see. Pick up shoes, coats and backpacks and put them in a closet or bedroom. Your bedrooms are your secret weapon for hiding clutter.

By a nose. A quick way to make a great first impression is to place a fragrance over the doorway where your guests will enter. Just a light spritz of your favorite room spray on the door will give guests a lovely scent as they enter your home.

Don’t forget about the bathroom. It should be clean and ready for your guests. Undoubtedly, someone will need to use it. Start by closing the shower curtain and hide any clutter behind it. Give the toilet bowl a quick swish with a toilet brush. Then use a damp, fine woven microfiber cloth and start wiping the mirror, the top of the vanity, the sink and finally the outside of the toilet. If your family uses a bar soap, hide it inside the shower and get out a pump soap for your guests. And make sure to put out a clean hand towel.

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Last-minute vacuum. Now that you have the kitchen and baths ready for your guests, take a few minutes to run the vacuum quickly over all the floors in your public rooms. You don’t have to be meticulous, just pick up the obvious dirt and pet hair. Remember, you are just cleaning for appearances. Your guests aren’t going to be looking that closely at your cleaning skills.

Flower power. If you don’t have time to go through your home and clean, create ways to distract your guests with pretty diversions. Simple cut flowers popped into a Mason jar make your kitchen look bright and clean. Also, a classic white plate filled with colorful fruit will attract attention to what you want and away from what you don’t.

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Turn the lights down. If you’ve got absolutely no time to get ready for guests, you can try this last-ditch technique: Turn the lights down low, or close the blinds. The darker the room, the less dirt your guests will see. The darkness will hide many of your sins.