We’ve all had that moment when a friend or family member (hello, mother-in-law!) calls or texts to say that they will be dropping by in 15 minutes. And we’ve all felt that moment of panic because the house just is not looking its best. We know, you begged your husband not to tear the coffeemaker apart on the kitchen table, and you’ve told the kids to put their laundry away, but there’s only so much you can control. So we’ve compiled a list of the best ways to prioritize that 15 minute cleaning window to make your house look its best.
1 – Hide Dishes in Dishwasher
We know you don’t have time to actually DO the breakfast dishes, and you don’t have to. The key is to get them out of the sink and off the countertop. You’ve only got a couple minutes for this task, so just stack those plates in the dishwasher, you can arrange the load for more efficient cleaning later. Chances are your guests will not look in your dishwasher, so you can get away with a fast one here!
2 – Open Drapes/Blinds
There’s a reason that photographers rave about the power of natural light. It really does make everything look better. So open those drapes or blinds, even if you don’t have time to do anything else during your cleaning scramble. Not only will everything look better bathed in sunlight, your room is visually opened up when people can look out the window, giving them other things to focus their gaze on than your clutter. Trust us, this one works!
3 – Presentable Storage Bins
It’s amazing how intentional your mess can look when it’s piled inside a nice looking storage bin. We recommend having a very cute, well-maintained storage bin or two empty and available in your living space at all times. This way, you can just do a quick arm sweep and knock all the mail, teacher’s notes, phone chargers, toys, birthday cards, nail polish, remotes, and loose change that just seem to accumulate on your side tables into your ready and waiting storage bins in less than a minute. There will be time to sort it all and put it away later, but when you’re in a rush to tidy up, just toss it all in a cute storage bin!
4 – Make the Bed
Look, we know there’s a laundry basket in the corner and slippers beside the bed and yesterday’s jeans slung over the chair in the corner and last night’s water glass still on the nightstand, but when you’re in a rush, just do the one thing that will immediately make the rest of that clutter fade into the background: make the bed! Your bed takes up a lot of space in your room, and when it is neatly made, it immediately makes your bedroom seem much, much cleaner. So take two minutes and smooth out the duvet, fluff up your pillows, fold over your top sheet and move on!
5 – Turn Off the TV!
Don’t ask us why this works so well, but it really does. Turn off the TV. Your space will immediately seem less cluttered. Whether it’s because of the uncluttered space of the blank tv screen, or because it makes your space seem immediately less hectic, turning off the TV makes it seem like your space is cleaner than it actually is. In fact, why wait for that last minute scramble when someone is dropping by, just turn the TV off right now and see how much calmer and more put-together your space seems. (Obviously this tip never applies if Fixer Upper is on, LOL!)
6 – Pull Off the Tablecloth
This one might sound counterintuitive, but bear with us. You really do need to pull off that tablecloth and stash it in the pantry until your guest is gone. Clean, crisp open spaces give a sense of calm and illusion of order, and the smooth surface of your table can actually create an oasis of tranquility even in a room with an overflowing toy chest in the corner and that pile of expense reports you’ve been working on piled on the chair. Don’t be tempted to drop a vase or other decorative item in the middle of the table once the tablecloth is gone. A wide open, uncluttered surface is key to pulling off this visual illusion.
7 – Light Scented Candle
This probably should be step #1! We all know the power of aroma, after all, one of the first things a real estate agent will recommend to prep your place before an open house is that you bake a batch of cookies–or light a candle that smells the same. Few things make a better inviting first impression than a great smell. So if your house is somewhat less than spic-and-span, at least make it smell like it is. Try a baking cookies or cake scent, or something that smells like freshly cleaned laundry. Your guests will be so aromatically pleased, they’ll ignore the lived-in clutter!
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