9 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. If you are an expert in procrastination, and both of these situations have happened to you too many times, please learn how to quick-clean your home’s public spaces in 10 minutes or less. These tips are ways to actually clean your home and will give the appearance of a respectable home when you’re short on time. Or call Yes! Maids and let us handle your dirty work!
So, you just got home from work, picking the kids up from school, and stopping for groceries, when you receive the dreaded call. You have relatives popping in for an unannounced visit—tonight!
Plus, it’s Friday, and you haven’t touched a mop or dust rag since the weekend. Looking around your home, it seems like you’ll never get the place whipped into shape and still have time to make dinner. So what do you do?
You speed clean! Remember the tips below, and the next time something like this happens to you, you’ll be prepared.
- Enlist help. The kids. The husband. The Roomba. It’s crunch time, so make sure everyone is pulling their weight.
- Gather your supplies. You need a sturdy utility apron for just such occasions as this. If you don’t have one of those, a compartmentalized bucket will do. Put every cleaning product and tool you’ll need in the apron or bucket, apart from larger tools like mops, brooms, or the vacuum.
- Make each move count. As you’re cleaning, carry your supplies around with you, and always put each spray bottle and tool back in the same spot. You can’t waste time making trips back and forth to find the thing you need, or rummaging around in your toolkit.
- Don’t bother with the rooms your guests won’t go into. In fact, since this is an emergency situation, we give you permission to temporarily store any clutter in the laundry room.
- Start with the least favorite room. It is easy to get burnt out while cleaning, especially if you are needing to get it done quickly. So, start with your least favorite room first, or your least favorite chore! That way, you aren't totally dreading it the whole time you are cleaning.
- Make one circuit around the room. Don’t skip over things. This is an extension of “Make each move count.” Instead of zigzagging from one end of the room to the other and back, start at one end of the room and work your way around.
- Know where your various cleaning supplies are. Being organized is key! If all your cleaning supplies are in one central location, it will make speed (and regular) cleaning a lot quicker because you don’t have to spend 20 minutes finding that one bottle of spray that you need.
- Clean dry to wet. This may be pretty obvious, but when you are cleaning, do the “dry” chores first — dusting, picking up toys, etc. For instance, if you are cleaning the bathroom, and the first thing you do is clean the floor, it will probably end up getting dirty again while you do other chores (cleaning the toilet, the bath tub, etc.), and you may end up doing extra work when you don’t have to.
- If it’s not dirty, don’t clean it. Don’t fuss with upper baseboards, vertical surfaces, or anything else that does not look dusty or grimy.
- 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.
- 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.
- Clean from top to bottom. As you clean, dust and dirt get knocked off of surfaces higher up, and onto surfaces lower down. So start high, and gradually work your way down. Do the floors last.
- Focus on what you’re doing. If you’re thinking about that TV show you want to catch up on, or what your boss is going to say about x project, or where you’d like to go for vacation, you’re going to miss things and have to waste time coming back to them. Give your attention to the task at hand, and things will go much quicker. Instead of thinking, “Oh I think I’ll clean the entire house right now,” find one specific place to focus on, and don’t stop until done there. Don’t stop in the middle of cleaning that section, and just get it done. In order to do this, remove all distractions (like the phone) and just push the pedal to the metal! One fun tip is to set a timer — whenever there’s a timer going for anything, it definitely motivates.
- Use a daily shower cleaner. This is a tip to help keep a shower looking better with less work. Just buy a basic shower spray (such as this Fresh Daily Shower Cleaner), and after every shower or bath, just do a quick spray in the area and the shower liner. It helps prevent mildew from building up, and it just leaves the shower seeming cleaner. By doing this, you will also save time when you do a deep cleaning of the shower, because it won’t be as dirty (and you hopefully won’t have any mildew to clean up — which can be SO time consuming.)
- Shut the curtains in the shower. It may be tempting to leave the shower curtains all bunched up, or you might not even think about it, but by shutting the curtains you air them out, so they don’t get mildew-y and it just makes the bathroom look nicer. Everyone hates walking into a bathroom and seeing the curtains all bunched up, and it looks much cleaner when they are shut — maybe the room just looks more put together, or just less cluttered (since the curtains hide the bazillion bath toys and bottles of shampoo and conditioner.)
- Make your bed. A made bed just looks nice and improves the appearance. Plus, it’s so much nicer just going to bed and having all the sheets and blankets there, rather than having to search around for pillows and blankets that had been thrown off the bed at night (or that a certain little two-year-old decided would be fun to hide.) Or you can make making a bed even FASTER by using Zipit Bedding. It was on Shark Tank, and it’s genius.
- Clearing clutter with laundry. For those times when you really just need to get the room clean (like, when you have guests announce they’ll be arriving — unexpectedly or not — in ten minutes, and there are tons of toys on the ground), if you just grab a laundry basket and put everything that’s just “clutter” in it, you can get a room de-cluttered pretty quickly. While you should still go and sort through the laundry basket later, this is a great way to get a room cleaned up fast!
- Have storage ready to go. If you don’t have a place for things to go, it really makes cleaning up a lot harder. During one of those times when you aren’t speed cleaning, take some time to find storage bins, label containers and shelves, and just determine where everything is supposed to go. Instead of shoving all the toys behind the couch, have boxes set up, and maybe even make yourself a toy storage bag! Canvas cube storage is awesome.
- Bedrooms to the rescue. After you've got the kitchen and bathrooms 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.
- Disinfectant wipes for quick cleaning. Use Clorox Disinfectant Wipes — they are great for cleaning up messes and also for cleaning the bathroom or kitchen quickly. Not really recommended using them for deep cleaning, but when you are looking to give a room a little lift, these are your best friends!
- Focus on one area at a time. These leads back to the first tip about focusing. Don’t worry about anything but the room or area you are cleaning. If you are trying to pick up the family time at the same time that you cook dinner, and do the dishes, you aren’t going to be as productive. By focusing on one area at a time, you’ll get it done a lot quicker, and it will probably be done better, too.
- 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.
- Spray things all at once (that have to sit). Especially in the bathroom, there’s always a million products that just have to sit for 10 minutes before you can give them a good scrubbin’. So, instead of spraying one area, waiting ten minutes, cleaning it, and then repeating with the next area, spray them all at once (or maybe one to two minutes apart, since you won’t be able to clean them all at once!), and it will make the cleaning process go a lot faster.
- 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.
- Sweep/mop/vacuum at the end. Similar to the dry to wet tip, if you are doing a lot of cleaning, sweeping/mopping/vacuuming is somewhat counterproductive. Consider these chores your finishing touch and do them last! It will save you from having to do it again at the end of your cleaning adventure. The Bissell Symphony lets you mop AND vacuum with the same machine. No need to get out your bucket!
- Use air fresheners. It’s amazing how much a scent can affect your thoughts and feelings — good or bad. We love using air fresheners in our house, and we seriously have quite the variety in every room. It makes a room feel more inviting and a home more welcoming. You can buy these for less than a dollar sometimes!
- 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.
- Putting the Cinnabon one in the kitchen makes your kitchen constantly smell like there are fresh baked goods cooking (beware — this will make you hungry!) This is definitely my favorite scent. The Snuggle one is great for any area that needs a little freshening up, such as an entry way, mud room, or your teenager’s bedroom. It makes it smell like freshly folded laundry is there! And the Baby Magic one….is perfect for the nursery.
- Try using scents in Air Wick Freshmatic Automatic Air Freshener dispensers, they are cool! They let out a little spray of the scent every few minutes (you can change the frequency).
- 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.
- 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.
- Order a pizza. Your relatives can’t really expect you to whip up a home cooked meal on such short notice, can they? Order a pizza with their favorite toppings. While you’re waiting for the delivery guy to arrive, take a nice hot shower. You deserve it!
- Lastly, don't forget to use Yes! Maids for all your cleaning service and concierge needs. Remember, we are available for last minute rush cleaning jobs and other service jobs (including handyman services, house sitting and pet sitting too)! Try us once, you wont regret it, call us today!
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