What’s the key to getting your house spick-and-span in a jiffy?
“Know the difference between those tasks you must do and those you can skip,” says Jeff Bredenberg, author of How to Cheat at Cleaning: Time-Slashing Techniques to Cut Corners and Restore Your Sanity.
No one’s going to examine your windows, scrutinize your bathtub or peer into your closets.
So if you’re really tight on time, concentrate your efforts on truly noticeable areas.
Here’s how to make quick work of your dirty work and get your house guest-ready in 10 minutes flat.
De-clutter (4 minutes)
If you want your home to look clean, getting rid of clutter may be even more important than getting rid of dirt.
If every surface in your living room is covered with stuff, even a spotless space won’t look inviting.
So scoop up those piles of magazines, toys, DVDs and stray clothes into big baskets. (It’s a good idea to keep several on hand for quick tidying.) In a pinch, you can use garbage bags or laundry baskets.
Then hide them in closets or under a bed until you have time to sort.
Shine up the coffee table (1 minute, 30 seconds)
Coffee tables are the focal point of the living room, so polish the wood or clean the glass, then do the same for the dining room table.
A sparkling tabletop will make the whole room look cleaner.
To save even more time, Bredenberg likes to use disposable cleaning wipes, which contain a pre-measured amount of cleaning product. Get the job done with these in a few swipes, then toss them out.
Keep containers of wipes in the kitchen, bathroom and other rooms so they’re quickly accessible.
Camouflage dirty dishes (15 seconds)
Got guests on the way, a kitchen counter full of dirty plates and bowls, and no room in the dishwasher (or no dishwasher at all)?
Here’s a temporary trick to hide them from sight: Place all the dishes in the sink, cover with water and while the water is still running, squirt in some dishwashing liquid. Voila: a sink full of pretty white suds instead of grimy dishes.
Banish the dust bunnies (1 minute, 30 seconds)
Your guests are not going to get down on their knees and look under your couch to make sure your floors are spotless.
But they could definitely notice giant dust bunnies, dog hairs and cookie crumbs under their feet.
You don’t need to sweep the whole floor; instead, use a hand-held vacuum to take care of true trouble spots.
Make the bathroom sparkle (2 minutes, 45 seconds)
Don’t forget to clean the one place your guests will have time to observe closely without distractions.
A dirty bathroom screams “dirty house,” but you don’t have to scrub all of it.
Just use a disposable wipe or paper towel sprayed with cleaner to remove all the obvious gunk from the sink, faucets and the outside of the toilet. Then give the toilet bowl a quick swish with the toilet brush.
Finally, use another wipe to make the mirror gleam and you’re done.