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A full house cleaning could take hours.
But when a friend or a relative calls and says they’re in the area and “just want to stop by and say hi”, you may only have a matter of minutes.
Your house is a mess. You haven’t cleaned up the kitchen from breakfast, kids’ toys are on the floor, laundry is on the couch waiting to be folded… the list goes on.
But, being the kind and welcoming person that you are, you say through gritted teeth “ohhhh?…. Yeah… we’d love to see you! Come on by”. 😬
Then, the panic sets in and you start to sweat trying to figure out how you’re going to pull this off.
Moreover, WHY DID I JUST SAY THAT?!
Now, it’s not that you don’t want to see this person. You just take pride in your home and want to present it at it’s best.
But, now you only have 15 minutes to make your home presentable. What do you do?
Here it is.
Complete these 5 steps and to make your home company ready in 15 minutes or less.
Before we get into the house cleaning, let me first say that the only rooms you should be tidying are the kitchen, the living room, and the guest bathroom. That’s it.
If any other room is unsightly, close the door and put it out of your mind. It won’t make a bit of difference either way to your guests because they won’t see those rooms
That being said, let’s jump into the steps.
15 Minute Express House Cleaning Routine for Last-Minute Guests
1. Open the Windows
(est. time < 1 min.)
Begin to freshen the air in your home by opening a window and turning on the fan to get everything circulating.
You want to do this first to give your home the maximum amount of time to air out.
If it’s hot and you’re running the A/C, or if it’s cold and you have the heat on, close the windows right before your guests arrive to maintain a comfortable temperature and save energy.
You might also consider lighting a candle or starting your oil diffuser to fragrance your home.
The one thing, however, I would not recommend is running through your rooms spraying an aerosol air freshener. Most have such a strong artificial scent that it is a turnoff.
It’s also an unmistakable smell that, more often than not, doesn’t eliminate odors (no matter what the commercials tell you). Instead, they overpower them with a stronger scent.
For this reason, I say fresh air is the best move.
2. Clean Sweep
(est. time 3 min.)
This is your declutter step. Simply put, get anything that doesn’t belong out.
Mail on the counter, sneakers in the corner, jewelry on the table, etc. If it doesn’t belong in either the kitchen, living room or bathroom, move it.
In a perfect world, you would move it to the room it’s supposed to be in. But, if you’re crunched for time, just move it into a bedroom.
The fastest way to complete this task is with a cleanup basket. That is an empty basket, bin, or tote bag that you can move with you from room to room and collect objects.
Move efficiently in a clockwise manner through each room and you’ll be done in no time.
Recommended Read: A Clean Sweep: How to Declutter Your Home Quickly
3 – Kitchen
(est. 6 mins)
If your clean dishes are still in the dishwasher, empty it. Then, put all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Even if it’s an item you usually wash by hand.
You can go back and retrieve it later.
Right now, the name of the game is clean counters and a clean sink. If you do not have a dishwasher, wash your dirty dishes and set them on a rack to dry.
It’s perfectly acceptable to have clean dishes out drying neatly in a rack for unexpected visitors. If you find yourself with extra time at the end of all the steps you can start putting them away then.
Next, move on to clearing your counters
Put away appliances, spices, etc, back where they belong. Try to make your countertops as clutter-free as possible.
Then, wipe down your counters, shine your sink (see FlyLady), shine your appliances, and empty your trash.
4 – Bathroom
(est. time 2-3 mins.)
Hit the mirror, counter, sink, and toilet. Put out a fresh hand towel, empty the trash, and make sure there is an extra roll of toilet paper visible
5 – Floors
(est. time 3 mins.)
With your remaining time, you’re going to run the vacuum from the entry to and through each of the 3 rooms you just cleaned
That means, all pathways from the front door to the living room, to the kitchen, and to the bathroom. You’ll also vacuum each one of these rooms
Note: You will need to move quickly to complete this last step in under 15 minutes.
Remember not to get caught up in small details like baseboards and cut lines. This is a quick once over.
If you have tile or hardwood, be sure to set your vacuum on the bare floor setting. This disables the power roller so you don’t scratch your floors.
Please note that I am not recommending that you sweep with a broom. It will take far too long and you’ll exhaust yourself trying to do it in the allotted time.
A vacuum will grab any large debris.
Then, go back and spot clean with a paper towel any areas of tile that have marks, scuffs, or spills that stand out to you.
That’s it. With those 5 house cleaning steps completed, you’re done.
You might be out of breath, but your home will look great and you’ll be able to entertain stress-free.
Certainly, the amount of time it takes you to complete these steps will vary depending upon the state of your home, and if you have help.
It can be done solo, however, if you hustle.