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8 Tips for Cleaning Your Home in a Hurry

It’s been a busy week, and your house is a little worse for wear. No problem—except your mom/neighbor/friend has just announced that they will be over in 20 minutes for a quick visit. Yikes!

It’s next to impossible to do a solid deep clean in just 20 minutes, but it is very possible to do an effective surface clean. Your guest will never know the difference. Here are 8 tips for performing a quick overall cleanup of your home.

Enlist Help
If you’ve got any extra helpers on hand—kids, a spouse, a roommate—get them to drop whatever they’re doing and start delegating tasks. If the kids are too young to offer much help, distract them with a quiet activity: reading, coloring, a puzzle, or TV.

Foyer Focus
The first thing your guest will see when they walk in is the front door area, so start by tidying it up. Put shoes away (or at least arrange them so that they’re aren’t in a mismatched mound) and tuck mail, backpacks, and other random stuff into a closet.

To the Bathroom
A couple of minutes spent in the bathroom goes a long way. First, wipe down the sink and clear the mirror of any toothpaste speckles. Next, wipe down the counter and straighten out the hand towels (if you have a spare set readily available, swap them out). Make sure there’s some soap on hand.

Finally, stash any extras that are on the counter—toothpaste, shampoos, razors, makeup—out of sight. This is a go-to trick that home stagers use when taking real estate photos. Voila: bathroom done.

The Main Area
Think about where your guest will be hanging out—the kitchen or living room are popular bets. Do a general clean sweep of the area, clearing counters, emptying dishes sitting in the sink, fluffing up couch pillows and re-adjusting throw blankets. Wipe down main surfaces and clear items off the floor. Organize books and other miscellaneous items into clean piles, or just stash them away to organize later.

Make the Bed
If your guest will be walking by the bedrooms, make sure that the beds are made. An unmade bed in an otherwise tidy room can make space look disheveled; similarly, a nicely made bed in a slightly cluttered room can spruce the space up.

Close the Door
A closed door is the unofficial symbol for “KEEP OUT”. There’s no shame in keeping the doors closed to rooms that can’t be salvaged on your accelerated timeline. Your guest will most likely get the message.

Bust out the Baskets
If the idea of tossing stuff in a closet or drawer makes you cringe, stash items in a decorative basket instead. This keeps them out of the way and somewhat organized-looking, but it’ll be in plain sight so that you remember to clean it out properly later on.

Vacuum and Sweep
If you only have time to do one chore properly, make it cleaning the floors. A good vacuuming or sweeping can go a long way in making a room feel clean. This is a great one to delegate, if you’ve got help.

Chill Out
If you can’t get it all done, don’t stress. Your messy space probably isn’t as big of a deal to your visitor as it is to you. Hospitality is more important than a perfect home: offer your guest something to drink, give them a comfortable place to sit, and focus on meaningful conversation. And ignore those dust bunnies peeping out from under the couch.

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