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A cheater’s guide to quick cleaning

By on August 15, 2007

Surprise! The phone rings and company is dropping by. We’ve all been there. Your home isn’t as tidy as you’d like it to be, and there’s not enough time for it to be “company ready.” You can’t sweep it under the rug and it can be difficult to determine the priority hot spots. Instead of being in a state of panic or barking out orders like a drill sergeant, you can jump into action and make the most of the few minutes you have before they ring the bell.

Today readers share their quick cleaning shortcuts when every moment counts:

Let there be light. I sweep and use my Swiffer WetJet. My floors shine and the rooms smell clean. I also open my blinds. Natural sunlight makes everything seem clean and fresh. –Stephanie via forums

Keep it contained. I keep all the kids’ toys in baskets that slip into cubbyholes on a shelf. It takes about 3 minutes to go around the room with a basket and throw everything in it. I also keep a laundry basket on the basement landing, so whenever I change the kids’ clothing, find dirty socks on the floor or change my dishtowel, I just open the basement door and toss the laundry down the stairs into the waiting basket. I keep a basket on the upstairs landing too. I simply throw anything that I find downstairs that belongs upstairs in the basket, then just bring it up with me next time I go up. –monkeywrangler via forums

Closets are your friend. If someone knocks on the door and it’s a mess, I grab a basket and throw everything in it, then shove it in the closet. –AnnK, Florida

Before bed boogie. I try to do a general pick up of the first floor every night before I go to bed and that helps keep things from piling up too much. If someone is coming over, I’ll dust and polish the living room coffee table, do a quick vacuum of the living room, and tidy the bathroom and kitchen. We have 3 cats and a dog in the house, so if I can get the animal hair up, it really helps, too. –Sandy via forums

Freshen the air. For unexpected guests, I spritz a citrus air freshener around the basement , then light a candle and/or turn on the fan and crack the window. I quickly empty the garbage in living room/bathroom and use the hand held vacuum to pick up anything visible on the carpet. –Shorty, Canada

Innocent diversion. When I get unexpected company or don’t have much time before guests arrive, I shut the doors to any rooms that are untidy. I quickly make some iced tea and head for the back yard. My husband keeps the yard in tiptop shape. It’s always cool under the trees and the flowers always keep things smelling good. –Laurie, Florida

Stay organized. I simply keep up with it, so it’s not a huge job all at once. A little bit every day keeps the house looking neat enough for drop in guests. I use a calendar marked with all my daily and monthly chores. As they are finished, I highlight them off. –borninseptember via forums

Hide and sneak. I keep a packet of cleaning wipes in the drawer of the guest bath. I can quietly slip in there and do a quick wipe-down without dragging out a bunch of cleaning supplies. I also clean the big flat surfaces first. We have an open floor plan, so people notice more if the kitchen counters are junky than they do if there are some video boxes laying on top of the tv. I can quickly clip mail together, pop it into a manila folder and slip it into my junk drawer. Dirty dishes are quick and easy to toss into the dishwasher too. A sinkful of dishes makes a kitchen look messy, so that’s one of the first things I focus on before company arrives. –Amy, Ohio

As seen in Midland Daily News


  1. Thalia

    8/18/2007 at 7:49 pm

    hi i enjoyed the read

  2. Alta

    8/28/2007 at 10:01 pm

    Great blog! I love these quick things to do. I don’t have to worry too much about unwanted company though. We live pretty far back.

  3. Katybird

    9/2/2007 at 5:38 pm

    Those are great tips. I enjoyed the article and the blog. 🙂

  4. rick

    9/3/2007 at 8:14 am

    Nice job! I enjoyed your site very much.

  5. john

    9/3/2007 at 9:30 pm

    Is there a cheaters guide to avoid cleaning all together? I guess if you avoid it long enough your house will smell bad enough no one will want to visit. HA!

  6. Kim

    12/6/2007 at 6:29 pm

    Just put out some Get Well Soon cards and your guest will think you’ve been too sick to clean.

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