Top 10 cleaning short cuts when guests are only minutes away

How many times have you had to race against the clock to clean your house in time for a party or last-minute get together? Or put aside an entire weekend to make sure everything was spotless for your house guests?

Of course, if you have the time, a thorough house clean is great but sometimes no matter how organised we are, time just slips through our fingers and often we’re left with less time to get everything spick-and-span.

When you find yourself in a frantic situation where time is of the essence, resist cancelling or coming up with an excuse just to avoid cleaning your home. Instead, try this 20 minute emergency tidy-up to have your house looking ‘guest ready’ in no time!

So you’re ready to start cleaning up, but before you set the timer, remember to focus on the overall picture. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to get everything looking perfect, but rather aim instead for an overall clean and tidy appearance.

You Will Need:

  • Several large laundry or storage baskets*
  • Household cleaning sprays
  • Candles and matches
  • Room fresheners

*Designate a room (i.e. spare room or walk-in closet) to store the baskets and any additional items that are lying around your house, until your guests go home.

The Living Room/Entertainment Room (4 minutes)

This can often be the messiest room in the house to clean but it’s also the quickest to tidy up if you’re not afraid to multi-task.

Start off by grabbing a basket and toss in anything that is cluttering up the room: kids toys, books, magazines, excess throws or pillows, remotes, video games/DVDs. If there are any dishes, food or leftover snacks in the room, run them over to the kitchen sink.

Then swiftly vacuum or sweep the floors. As you are doing this, use a free hand to put things in their place as you move around the room.

Once the floors are clean take a few seconds to flip your couch cushions over if possible. This instantly fluffs them up and makes them look fresh.

Before moving on to the next room, quickly wipe down your coffee table and any other surfaces with an appropriate surface spray. Finish off with some air freshener to give the room that fresh clean scent.

Dining Room (2 minutes)

This room should take you no time to clean. Wipe down the table then run a broom or vacuum cleaner over the floors. If there is any clutter on the table or elsewhere, toss it in one of your baskets for now.

Replace your chair cushions with clean ones if possible, or leave them bare. Throw a runner over the table and light a couple of candles.

Remember, you can bring food out as your guests arrive or if you have someone helping you, they can do this as you clean. Your immediate goal is to make the house look presentable.

Hallway and Bathroom/Toilet (4 Minutes)

Most hallways (particularly if you have kids) will be bombarded with shoes. But as long as you have a pair on your feet and no one else is planning on leaving the house (if they are, get them to grab their shoes now,) then it’s best to store all of your shoes in a large basket so your guests can take theirs off at the door.

Unless it’s summertime, you are best to make some closet space as well. Either push everything over to one side or remove a pile of clothing and store it in your designated room for the meantime. This will avoid you having to run back and forth to find your guests’ jackets.

When the hallway looks clean and tidy, move onto the bathroom/toilet.

Place all of your toiletries and bath essentials in a small basket and store them in a cupboard. Remove all wet towels from the room and replace with fresh, dry ones.

Put cleaning gel in the toilet and let it sit while you wipe down the exterior with antibacterial wipes. Then scrub the interior lightly and flush.

Make sure to leave at least two rolls of toilet paper and a bottle of air freshener in sight for your guest

Kitchen (6 Minutes)

Ah, the dreaded kitchen. Let’s face it; it can take hours to really clean a kitchen but just seconds for it to get dirty again.

Don’t stress too much about how clean your kitchen looks, chances are your guests will be sitting, standing or chatting anywhere else but your kitchen sink. Your focus for this room should strictly be on tidy counter tops.

Start by spraying your stove top with a cleaning agent then throwing out any food, wrappers or rubbish in sight. If you have dirty dishes sitting around, store them in your dishwasher for now. If you don’t have a dishwasher, fill your sink up with soap and water and let your dishes soak as you finish cleaning. You can come back to this later. NB: Don’t hide your dirty dishes in the oven!

Store any mail, books or clutter in a plastic bag and keep this in your kitchen drawer so you can find it easily later.

Finally, wipe down your counters, stovetop and kitchen table and give the floor a quick sweep.

Outside (4 minutes)

If you will be entertaining outside, store any equipment that won’t be in use (lawn mower, garden boots, shovels) inside your garage. If you have a deck or veranda, sweep away any leaves and make sure your tables are clean and ready for refreshments.

If outside is not on the agenda, spend these last couple of minutes lighting a few candles, arranging some decorations or laying out plates of food.

Get the Party Started

It’s easy to get carried away with cleaning (particularly if you enjoy it!) but when you’re hosting a party or get together, you have enough stress on your plate, and cleaning shouldn’t be part of that. Don’t forget that most of your house will be off limits when guests come over, such as bedrooms and ensuites. So just focus on cleaning the areas where they’ll be spending the most time, and don’t let yourself spend too long tidying up. After all, you have food to cook, drinks to pour and guests to entertain!

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