Clean up for your guests in 20 minutes or less

It’s an emergency. Someone’s coming over.

Do you have CHAOS as your house? For the FLYlady circle, this is known as “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome”. This is when you’re so uncomfortable with the state of your home’s tidiness and/or cleanliness, that you don’t want any guests. But can you clean up for your guests at the last minute? 

If you can’t get into your house without stepping on shoes, or there’s a weird funky smell coming out of your teen’s bedroom, or you can’t get by the (overflowing) garbage can without getting dirty.. you have CHAOS. 

And then the unthinkable text or phone call comes. It’s your mother-in-law, pastor’s wife, or your friend. They’re coming over to see you and they’ll be there in 30 min or so. You have 30 minutes to get your kids, yourself and your house ready for guests.

So you have guests coming over and the house is a mess? Here’s what you do:

Focus on the visible areas — entry, kitchen, bath and living room.

Start with where your guests will go. The obvious areas are the entry and bathroom, and then your living and kitchen areas. These are the spots where you want to focus on cleaning up. 

Spend no more than 5 minutes in each room. This is not the time to clean out your hall closet or your fridge. This is to get the rooms presentable, not deep clean. 

1. Declutter fast.

Grab a box or a laundry basket and pick up everything that doesn’t belong, garbage or not. If it isn’t supposed to be there, put it in the box. This includes clean and dirty laundry, random lego pieces or figurines from your kids’ bedrooms, pencils and markers, stray papers or elastics, or whatever else is just out of place. 

What’s left can be rearranged to look neater. Contain it on a plate, in a box, or around a feature. Things look more organized (and therefore cleaner!)

2. Wipe it down.

Baby wipes are gold! Or use a cleaning wipe, or even just a damp cloth.  While you are decluttering, (the trick is to do it all at the same time!), wipe up the more obvious dust and spots. 

Then vacuum your room. You don’t have to be thorough here. But get the obvious crumbs under the table, the dust bunnies hanging out in the corner and the pencil shavings or stray leaf bits by the door. 

Do one room at a time, and do it quickly. Wipe in one hand, basket in the other, and whip through the room decluttering and wiping. Then run your vacuum through and spray the room with a freshening spray to finish off. Done. 

You can hide a multitude of sins with a quick wipe and room freshening spray.

3. Light a candle, turn on the lamps, turn off the lights.

So things aren’t perfect. You can make a less-than-perfect room look lovely by dimming the lights.

Don’t want your mother-in-law to notice the crumbs just under the sofa? Or need your friend to miss the stray sock or mitten? Just turn off the overhead lights and turn on the lamps. It will look cozy and darkness will hide the mess.

Plus, scented candles can help make your home smell cleaner and more welcoming! When you clean up for guests, focus on making your home seem friendly, not perfect.

4. Close all the doors to the areas you don’t want to be seen.

Once you’ve decluttered, stash your baskets in another room and close the door. Discourage nosy guests by closing all the other doors too. Unless your guest is nosy to the point of being rude, they won’t open closed doors on their way to the bathroom. 

No your home won’t be “clean”, but it will be cleaner. And you’ll be able to enjoy your company without stressing about what they think of your home. 

Enjoy your guests, and don’t stress about the stray sock or dust bunny.

Let’s face it, most of us are too busy to be perfect housekeepers. And most of the time, our guests are coming to see us, not to see our spotlessly clean homes. Especially if they are coming last minute, my guests know that I’m busier caring for my kids than cleaning my house, and to adjust their expectations accordingly. 

And after the guests are gone? Those decluttering baskets make great treasure hunt activities for the kids. You never know what you might have found without knowing it. 

What’s your best tip for a fast clean-up?

Need more clean up tips? Don’t Let Clutter Clog You Up!  and Daily Minimum Maintenance might help!

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