We’ve all been there. You’re sitting on your couch, recognizing the fact that “declutter” has fallen lower and lower on your to-do list, when your phone vibrates. It might be your mom stopping by. Or, in my case, it’s a friend who wants to come up for a post-workout, socially distant glass of wine. You ask yourself, “who has time to keep her home guest ready?” The answer is you!
Here’s how to quick-clean your place in 10 minutes for an unexpected visitor:
Minute 1: Brew Something, Make a Water Aroma Bath or Put Apple Cider on the Stove.
Surprising fact: The scent of brewed coffee masks almost any smell. I turn my Keurig on before I do anything else. That way it’s had time to waft through my apartment before my friend arrives. Toss a dash of cinnamon in with the ground coffee to up the aroma and make it feel Fall cozy. If it’s too late for coffee, I always have apple cider in the fridge. Put it in a large pot and throw in a cinnamon stick, sliced oranges and a few cloves and you will not believe how quickly your home will smell like heaven.
Tip: If you don’t have coffee or cider…just boil some water with anything aromatic in it. Lemon slices, cinnamon sticks, oranges, a dash of vanilla. Works like a charm to make the house smell great and mask any unwanted odors!
Minutes 2-6: Stand in your doorway. Then adjust, stack, conceal.
Seriously, get up and stand where your guests will enter your home. Look around. Whatever you see is what your guest will notice when she walks in. These “sightlines” are where you should concentrate your precious minutes. Dirty dishes in the sink? Unsightly piles on the coffee table? Crooked lampshades or crowded chairs? Take care of those things first.
The less clutter, the cleaner the room feels. First, clear the mess from the rooms your guest will enter. Sightlines first, then where you’ll sit, then the bathroom. Throw the items in a laundry basket and tuck it away in your closet. (You’ll sort it out later.) Straighten pillows, stack like minded objects (magazines, blankets, books), making sure your stacks are nice and neat. Even dishes that are stacked in the sink look more intentional than a pile of messy dishes. Discard any old food or trash that you see.
Tip: Shut doors leading off your common areas (like your bedroom door). It will focus your guest’s attention on the one room you “cleaned.”
Minutes 7-8: Wipe down surfaces.
Grab some counter spray and go to town on your kitchen counters, dining room table, and coffee table. Think about the largest surfaces in your entertaining space. Or any space where your guest will put her glass down. Because you wouldn’t host a guest without offering her something to drink, right? You’ll also want to spray down your bathroom counter if you use hair products or loose makeup.
Minutes 9-10: Turn off overhead lights.
Bright overhead lights can be a spotlight on dusty places! Be kind to your nooks and crannies by swapping harsh lighting for soft lamps. Plus, lamplight makes your space feel warmer and more inviting for guests.
Candles are also a great idea. I light a candle at the very end of the process. Mostly because I’d rather my friend walk in while I’m about to light a candle than when I’m about to wipe down my counter. Plus, candlelight is more forgiving on the space. A warm scent like Vanilla or Spiced Oranges will also add to that good smelling that is already happening in the kitchen.
Minute 10: Fluff the throw pillows.
If you have any time left, take 30 seconds to fluff the throw pillows on your couch and chairs. Well-arranged pillows give the room a pulled together feel without a lot of effort.
Okay, so maybe it’s cheating. But perception is reality, right?
Nobody has time to deep clean her home every day. But, in a pinch, you can at least give the impression. Let’s just hope your mom doesn’t open your closet door…
Style Me Pretty Contributor – Madeline Littrell is a corporate PR strategist and freelance writer. Born and raised in the South, she loves big hair, country music, and chicken fingers. Madeline lives in Dallas with her Sheltie puppy, Tennessee.