Cleaning Tips: Mastering the Last-Minute Clean

Cleaning the house in 15 minutes may seem a little crazy, but it’s definitely possible -- particularly if you stay on top of the clutter. To save time, just focus on high-traffic areas like the entryway, kitchen, living room and guest bath, rather than bedrooms, the garage or laundry room (no one will venture in there!). Here are five fast cleaning tips from Barbara Reich, author of Secrets of an Organized Mom.

Front hall

First impressions are important, so make the entryway a priority. Line up shoes neatly or pile them in a good-looking basket, store backpacks in a closet and shake out the doormat. Use window cleaner to remove smudges from the hall mirror and glass on the door.

Counters and tabletops

Clear surfaces will trick you (and your guests!) into thinking the house is clutter-free. Remove magazines, catalogs and newspapers from the coffee table; file bills, permission slips and other random papers; and stash kitchen canisters and small appliances in the pantry or a cabinet (you won’t need the toaster at a cocktail party).

Trashcans

Nothing kills a party vibe like rank garbage odors in the kitchen or an overflowing pail of used tissues in the bath. Take out the kitchen trash and then hand a large plastic bag to one of your kids and have him empty the other small cans around the house. Done!

Bathroom

Pristine is the word that should leap to mind when a guest visits your bathroom. “Eliminate all evidence that anyone actually uses the bathroom,” advises Reich. Hide makeup and toothbrushes in a drawer, swish the toilet with cleanser and wipe down the mirror, sink and counter tops. Put out fresh hand towels and remove wet ones for the bath.

Quick vacuum

Grab that mini vac, rather than dragging out the big behemoth. Suck up pet hair, dust bunnies in the corner, bits of dirt and leaves in the front hall and old Cheerios in the kitchen. Spray a bit of air freshener, light a fragrant candle in the bath, and then sit back and revel in your accomplishment!