Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Quick Clean: How to Get Your Home Guest-ready in 15 Minutes

For me, cooking is fun. Putting out dishes is fun. Organizing a menu is fun. Shopping for said menu is fun.

Deep cleaning my house is decisively NOT on my fun list.

Sure, I get on a roll and feel fabulous and productive, but it is in and of itself just plain not that fun sometimes. I am prone to clutter, and my big hairy Golden Retriever sheds a second dog's worth of fur just by lumbering around the house.

That being said, I do love HAVING a clean house. That is actually one of the amazing things about entertaining - you are forced to make your house tidy. Goal-oriented cleaning is satisfying because you know you just have to buckle down and get the place gleaming.

However, sometimes you have a last-minute get-together and just plain don't have time for the deep clean you would like. Or, other times, you get so caught up in cooking and making drinks, you totally lose track of time.

Sometimes you need to put your best foot forward with *gasp* only FIFTEEN MINUTES before people are at your house!

Time to prioritize. I am happy to share my personal Quick Clean Checklist, crafted from many last-minute gatherings and reading hordes of Real Simple magazine. It may seem like a long list at first glance, but it is all about the bare necessities. A swipe here, a hide there, and you are ready for guests. Commit to a quick cleanup, without letting yourself get distracted, and you can be ready-to-go in a quarter hour.

Tip: These tasks are best paired with embarrassing pop music or heavy metal. Gets the action going.

Image courtesy Life Photo Archive, Hosted by Google

Stop 1: The Bathroom

This is the place that should get attention first. Bathrooms tend to become a symbol of the cleanliness of your entire home. Fortunately, it can be cleaned lickity split. Here are the basics to ensure you have a guest-ready 'power room.'

  1. Wipe the toilet, both rim and top of the tank. Spray some cleaning spray into the bowl and give it a quick swipe of a brush.
  2. Using one cloth, wipe down any porcelain fixtures - sink, bathtub rim, etc..
  3. Ensure you are stocked with toilet paper (you don't want to leave guests stranded!).
  4. Check that you have a hand towel out.
  5. If your mirror has a sheen of toothpaste, quickly spray with Windex and wipe down.
  6. If you are feeling VERY fancy, light a votive.

Image courtesy Post War Vintage

Stop 2: The Living Room / Dining Room

The cleaning steps for the living and dining rooms are, in essence, the same. These are the rooms where people will congregate, and you want them to make a good impression.

  1. Remove extra clutter from tables and floors and stash somewhere out-of-site (closet, bedroom, etc.). A classic.
  2. If you don't have a designated place to hide clutter, stack it in neat little piles. Looking at you, books.
  3. Group remotes and console controllers together, away from prime coffee table territory.
  4. If you have a dog, gather his toys and put in a basket. I reckon this is the same task if you have children.
  5. On a related note, if you have a big furry beast, gather up the tumbleweeds of fur and throw them out.
  6. Wipe down table surfaces.
  7. If you have an eye sore (such as a stain on a tablecloth), plunk something on top of it (sneaky, yes?)
  8. Light a candle to class up the joint (see a theme here?)

Image courtesy Green in Chestnut Hill

Stop 3: The Kitchen

You want the people you are feeding to feel confident that your kitchen is clean, don't you? I will assume your kitchen is always nice and appropriately hygienic (the one room in the house you must keep spic-and-span), but it is nice to do a pass if its surfaces get un-tidied from pre-party cooking.

  1. Move dishes in the sink into the dishwasher, if available; If you do not have a dishwasher, quickly wash the big items, dry, and put away to free up space.
  2. Wipe down sink - the sink is the focal point of the kitchen, so make that baby shine. Magic Erasers are great for this - one swipe and your sink is gleaming.
  3. Wipe down the stove. This is Splatter Central and also quickly tended to by the above methods.
  4. Throw out any food packaging / vegetable peels / what have you.
  5. Quickly spray some cleaning spray and wipe down the counters. Even the smell of a cleaning product will immediately trigger the "oooh, clean" censors of the brain.

Image courtesy Viva Victoria Vintage

Stop 4: Other Rooms

  1. Close the door. Ta-da!

Bonus Round

Some other quick, impressive hosting tricks if you have a little extra time:
  1. Put out a pitcher or carafe of water. This will show that you thought ahead (and keep people from heading into an untidy kitchen to get their own glass).
  2. If you have one, put out an ice bucket. See above.
  3. Light candles. This one popped up a few times above as it is a really easy way to make your house look cozy.

The ultimate takeaway, though? Your friends are your friends and they won't care too much if your place is clean. They just are looking forward to spending a lovely evening with you, not inspecting your place to see how clean it is.

...or that is what I am banking on, anyway.

What is YOUR favorite clean-up-quick trick?

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