The 20-Minute Cleanup

White Cabinets in Modern Kitchen

How to get your house guest-ready in under 20 minutes

We’ve all experienced that moment of panic. Your husband calls to say he is on his way home with a few friends to watch the game. Your in-laws call to say they’re in the neighborhood and want to stop by. Your daughter invites her friends over without giving you a heads up.  

You look around your house and realize it is in no shape for company. Dirty dishes are in the sink, the unfolded laundry is sitting on the dining room table, and you can’t even see the kitchen counters. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Here is our guide to getting your house guest-ready in 20 minutes or less.  

1.  Light a candle and open some windows. (1 minute) 

Woman Opening Window for Fresh Air
Photo: istock.com/Jun

Lighting a candle, plugging in a diffuser or using a room spray is a quick way to mask any lingering odors in your house – especially if you have pets. Just make sure you aren’t using anything too fragrant as that can be overwhelming. Try to keep a neutral, clean scent on hand (such as fresh linen or cotton) to give your home a pleasant smell when your visitors arrive. Open some windows as well if it’s nice out – fresh air is always nice. 

2.  Clear off your counters and kitchen table. (4 minutes) 

Clean kitchens share one common trait – clutter-free countertops. It’s inevitable that at one point or another, your kitchen counter will become a catch-all for car keys, mail, dirty dishes and more. If someone is on their way over, you won’t have time to put everything back where it belongsso quickly grab a bin and throw everything in it (except dirty dishes – hide those in the dishwasher). If your kitchen table is in similar shape, do the same thing and then stash the bins somewhere out of sight. Your guests will never know! 

3. Wipe down your counters. (2 minutes)

Clean White Granite Island with Sunflowers in BackgroundNow that your kitchen counters and table are clear, make sure to wipe them down. Grab a cleaning spray or wipe, and hit your counters, island and kitchen table. This is the easiest way to make your house smell and look clean and takes less than two minutes.  

4.  Do a quick bathroom sweep. (3 minutes)Bathroom Sink with White Soap Dispenser

Make sure to check in on the guest bathroom. Bring some cleaning supplies with you and quickly wipe down the counter and toilet seat. Empty the trash bin and put out a fresh hand towel. It only takes a few minutes and is a room you won’t want to miss. 

5.  Hide first-floor clutter. (3 minutes)

Men's Brown Shoes and Toys on Messy Living Room Floor
Photo: iStock.com/Image Source

Pick up an empty basket and do a quick sweep of your first floor. Put stray shoes, clothes, toys, devicesand other items left around the living area in the basket and tuck it out of view. You can organize it later but for now, the goal is to hide the clutter! 

6.  Vacuum and/or Swiffer. (4 minutes)

Woman Cleaning Floor with Dust MopGrab your vacuum and/or Swiffer and hit the floors. You won’t have time to do a deep-clean but vacuuming your family room carpet and washing your kitchen floor are easy tasks that will make the entire living area smell great.  

7.  One final check. (2 minutes)  

Two Happy Female House Guests
Photo: iStock.com/SolStock

Do a final walkthrough of your main entertaining areas. Hide any stray clutter (shoes, pet toys, devices) in cabinets or closets, and fold your throw blankets. Push in your dining room chairs. Congrats – it’s time to head to the fridge and pour yourself a glass of wine because your guests are about to arrive, and you have a minute to spare!  

 

 

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