Ugh. Speed cleaning.
You know the feeling.
The rocks in the stomach panic.
Sally Matilda, your second cousin once removed, has just called and informed you that she happens to be in the neighborhood and wants to drop off a coupon she thought you’d like. She’ll be there in 10 minutes. You look around and suddenly see your house the way a guest would. You freak out. You run around like a chicken with its head cut off. You resolve to close the blinds and hide upstairs. No – that won’t work. She knows you’re there. Would she think it was weird if you just run out to the driveway and talk to her through her car window? Yes. Yes she would.
But what do I do? Where do I start? I’m hyperventilating!
Take a deep breath and get started with some speed cleaning
It’s going to be ok. You can manage this. You’ll need to prioritize and attack things based on the amount of time you have and order of importance. Part of the decision making process here has to do with where people enter your house, and where they’re likely to go while they’re there. What do they see first when they come in? Often it will be the living room or the kitchen. In many houses (including mine) both rooms are visible no matter which door someone enters. How much time do you actually have? Ten minutes? Thirty minutes? An hour? In this post we’ll go about it based on having only 10-15 minutes’ lead time.
Generally, a drop-in guest is most likely to see your kitchen, your living room, and perhaps your powder room/guest bathroom. Those are the areas we’ll focus on.
Let’s grab your supplies. You don’t need much.
- Laundry basket
- Trash bag
- Smaller basket or container
- Dusting cloth
- Cordless stick vacuum (if you have time at the end)
The living room might be in chaos, with toys all over the floor, books piled up, and a
thin thick layer of dust covering the fireplace mantel, but if the kitchen is clean I feel much more relaxed. There is something about having a clean kitchen that makes me feel like a good and worthy human being. Your mileage may vary.
So the kitchen is the first place I run to when someone is going to drop by. Here’s what we’re going to do:
Get rid of all dirty dishes in the sink or on the counters. Get. Rid. Of. Them. You can put them in the dishwasher, of course, but that may mean having to rinse and arrange things. You don’t have time for that nonsense. Nope, what you need to do is shove everything into the oven. Not kidding even a little bit. Shove ’em in there but don’t forget to take them back out or you’ll end up with this:
Next you will hide the miscellaneous crap that evil elves pile up on the kitchen counters. The mail, the schoolwork, the 3 mysterious AAA batteries (Are they new? Are they old? Why are they here?), that piece of plastic tubing (WTF?). Get a basket (get one from the dollar store and keep it handy) and throw all of it in there. Put the basket off to the side somewhere.
Wipe down the counters.
Your kitchen is (fake) clean!How to get your kitchen fake clean in less than 5 minutes Click To Tweet
Your guest may or may not use the bathroom while they’re there, but you should be prepared. I know the awful, sinking feeling of having a drop-in guest say, “Is there a bathroom I could use?” and wanting desperately to say, “oh, um, nope. Sorry. No bathrooms here.” I have felt the blood drain from my face as my mother-in-law steps into a bathroom I am almost 100% certain has a pre-schooler sized turd floating in the bowl.
Preventative maintenance goes a looooong way in the bathroom, but that doesn’t help you right now, so let’s get this crisis under control. This is a speed cleaning must. You need the toilet bowl, toilet seat and sink to look clean. There needs to be toilet paper and a clean towel in there.
Grab the toilet brush and scrub the bowl. Don’t worry about toilet bowl cleaner right now unless there is a bottle right under the sink. Remember: We’re going for the appearance of cleanliness, not actual cleanliness.Remember: We're going for the appearance of cleanliness, not actual cleanliness. Click To Tweet
Use a wet wipe to wipe the top and underside of the the toilet seat as well as the rim of the bowl. Toss that in the garbage and use another wet wipe to clean any gunk off of the counter.
Use one more to wipe the faucet and the bowl of the sink. We’re trying to get up things like that blob of toothpaste you dropped in there 3 days ago. If the mirror is just streaky or a little dusty leave it alone. If it has giant wads of beef stew stuck on that were flung on it when someone was flossing, use another wet wipe to get the big stuff off. Nope, this will not leave you with a shiny, streak-free mirror. What it will leave you with is a mirror that will not cause someone to gag as they are washing their hands. If it’s a full bathroom, close the shower door or curtain and shove dirty clothes into a closet, or even in the cabinet under the sink.
Hang up a fresh hand towel and throw a new roll of toilet paper on the hook. Unless there is something else truly egregious going on in there (puddle of pee on the floor from a preschooler’s bad aim?), call it finished and move on.
The living room
You’re running out of speed cleaning time at this point, so just do what you can in here. Get a laundry basket, a trash bag of some sort (a plastic grocery bag will probably work just fine) and a dusting cloth. Work your way around the room in some kind of pattern. Go clockwise. Go counter-clockwise. Go in a W-pattern. It doesn’t matter. The goal is not to have to go back over what you’ve just done. Put everything that doesn’t belong in the living room into the laundry basket. If you don’t have time to neatly fold and arrange decorative pillows and throws, toss them into the basket too. Put any trash into the bag. Drag the dust cloth over the areas Sally Matilda is tall enough to see. If you have time to run the vacuum cleaner over the floor, great! If you don’t have time, you can put the vacuum cleaner in the middle of the floor and plug it in. “Oh my! You’ve caught me in the middle of cleaning, which I do all the time! Yeh… That’s the ticket!”
Stash the laundry basket in the closest place-she-probably-won’t-look, and take a deep breath.
She encountered a traffic jam!
Woot! you have a few extra minutes. Pull out that cordless stick vac and run it through the middle of the floors in the kitchen, bathroom and living room. I love stick vacs for a super quick cleanup on both bare and carpeted floors.
Bring it on Sally Matilda!
Things aren’t likely to be picture-perfect after this whirlwind. Where you end up will depend on where you started and neither the wittiest post nor the cutest printable will take your house from dump to divine in ten minutes. But a clean toilet, cleared kitchen counters, and a reasonably straight living room can go a long way in leaving a good impression on a last-minute guest.
Stop reading this!
You have no time! Get your speed cleaning on and start shoving things into the oven!