Mastering the art of the quick clean


Let’s be honest: Chances are that at any given moment, your place is not quite showroom ready. Unless you’re a neat freak you probably have a dish or two in the sink and a stack of mail on the counter. And you probably won’t notice bit of clutter until you’re expecting company; suddenly you realize that you should probably run the vacuum more than once a year. While your closest friends probably don’t mind the clutter, your parents and other less casual guests might judge. Here are a few tips for making your apartment/condo/house visitor-friendly in a pinch.

Useful items to have:

  • Trash bag
  • Disinfecting wipes /multi-surface cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • Vacuum
  • Broom & dustpan (or dry sweeper)
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Candle or air freshener

First pass

Do a quick pass through the room(s) and collect anything that needs to be hung up or put away: jackets draped over chairs, shoes sprawled across the floor, etc. The trick is to keep moving stuff to where it belongs, or at least to where it can be hidden for a while. As you continue cleaning, keep picking up any stray items and drop them off in the right place. You’d be amazed at the difference even this single step can make.


No one wants to use a dirty bathroom, unless it’s their own. Give the toilet a quick brush, run a disinfecting wipe over the sink and other surfaces, and make sure there’s a spare roll of toilet paper readily available. Empty the trash and, if you think of it, give a mirror a brief shine. This entire process shouldn’t take much more than 5-10 minutes.

Living room

The living room (or equivalent TV area) is likely where you’ll spend the majority of your time. Fold any blankets and remove any stray dishes, cups, or snack wrappers from your last movie marathon session. Run a vacuum if you have a run. Straighten up any books, magazines, or papers that are lying around.


Guests might spend some time in the kitchen, depending on the set up of your place and the purpose of the visit; it’s nice if people don’t cringe when you serve them food. Wipe down the counters and get rid of any crumbs, stains, etc. If you have a dishwasher, tuck any dirty dishes in there. If not, get to washing them, or give everything a quick rinse and make a mental note to clean them more thoroughly later. Any bills or mail on the kitchen table/counter should be tucked away. Empty and take out the kitchen trash as well.

Final sweep

At this point, your place should look pretty sharp. If you still have a bit of time, run a vacuum, sweep the floors, or just spot clean anything that’s looking a bit dirty. Light a candle to freshen up the air – air freshener sprays can be slightly abrasive, but will work if you don’t have/like candles. Kick back, relax, and wait for your company to arrive!


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