So your Aunt Zelda just called to inform you she plans to stop by your house tonight for a visit. Oh, and the last time she dropped by on short notice she had a few choice comments on how you could stand to keep your home a little cleaner.
Not good. With a quick calculation, you realize you’ve still got 60 minutes to do a quick scan and clean up the clutter and grime that’s accumulated over your relentlessly busy week.
If the disorder of your home is a common source of stress, you’re far from alone. A recent survey found that 84 percent of Americans are worried that their home isn’t clean or organized enough. When you live in a two-income society with plenty of career and family responsibilities, hobbies and other interests can easily take precedence over household chores.
But fear not: Aunt Zelda’s impending presence is probably nothing to get bent out of shape about. In fact, you may be amazed at the transformation you can make by applying yourself to your surroundings for just an hour. Consider these suggestions for a lightning-quick cleaning process that can get your house in “good-enough” condition for unexpected guests. Or good enough for Aunt Zelda, anyways.
- Put on your favorite positive-energy music to give yourself a mental boost while you’re cleaning. The more bounce, the better.
- Come in where your guest(s) will enter and visualize where they’ll walk and spend the majority of their visit. Throw away all trash in those prime target zones and toss clutter into garbage bags you can temporarily stash in adjacent closets. Keep a close eye out for anything you wish to keep private.
- Spray scented air freshener throughout your rooms. Better yet, light a couple great-smelling candles to create ambiance and mask any stray odors.
- Reduce kitchen clutter and odors by loading up and running your dishwasher. If that’s not an option, temporarily hide dirty dishes in the oven or under the sink.
- Give kitchen sinks a quick scrub with an antibacterial cleaner, paying particular attention to slimy drains.
- Take out the garbage and spray air freshener in the bin before replacing the bag.
- Run a quick lint brush over the upholstery and spot-clean it with a damp rag. Too time-consuming? Just flip the cushions!
- Grab one microfiber dust cloth, one wet rag, one rag sprayed with furnish polish, a few paper towels and an all-purpose spray cleaner that works on glass. Walk around your house, zeroing in on cleanable surfaces — both vertical and horizontal — and wipe them free of dust, crumbs, fingerprints, and grime.
- Swab toilets clean with bleach and toilet brushes.
- Put out fresh toilet paper and clean hand towels.
- Switch on lamps and turn off the more revealing overhead lights wherever possible. What Aunt Zelda can’t see won’t bother her.
- Shut the doors of any rooms your guests don’t need to enter.
- Run a quick dust mop under and around furniture, then shake off the mop outside.
- Conduct a quick sweep and vacuum, focusing on the big picture instead of the details.
- Put on an aromatic pot of coffee to add to the sense of welcome and warmth and in your home.
Finally, banish any residual guilt that your home can’t always be immaculate. After all, you have one life, and it should be spent enjoying your family and friends, not maintaining a flawless household — no matter what Aunt Zelda has to say.