Mom Hacks :: Five Quick Steps to a “Clean” House


We’ve all been there: that moment when you find out company is coming, your house is being shown to a potential buyer, or you need to host a last-minute function. You look around and see Cheerios on the floor, dirty clothes on the couch, dishes in the sink, Magnatiles stacked to the ceiling, and dog hair, well, everywhere. There’s no feasible way to clean your whole house before outside humans enter.

So, what do you do? I have run into many instances where I had an hour or less before guests arrived, and I am here to share my methods for making my house “clean”. I am sacrificing the illusion of my cleanliness so that you also may trick your friends and family into thinking your house is clean. You’re welcome!

Five Quick Steps to a “Clean” House:

Step 1: Screen Time

If your kids are home during this cleaning spree, it is not the time to worry about screen time limits. Turn on a show that captivates them and get moving to Step 2.

*If your children will sit and read quietly or play alone in their room for an hour, have them do that. Then come train my children to do the same, please!

Step 2: All the Smell Goods

This is the hardest step for me to disclose because I have always viewed it as my secret weapon: Tide Washing Machine Cleaner. These are small packets of magic that look like detergent. Just follow the package directions, and all the space around your laundry room will smell like you just deep cleaned! It is important to do this early on so that the cycle can finish before your guests arrive. Leave your washer door open to ensure maximum fresh scent. This is also a great time to light a candle and spray (with discernment) some fabric refresher. You don’t want to make your house smell like a perfume shop, but I truly believe people notice dirt less when your house smells clean.

*Bonus tip: Don’t take out the trash if it isn’t full, just throw a couple of dryer sheets in there. The dryer sheets will mask the smell and save you a few minutes.

Two of my favorite things

Step Three: Dust Bunnies

Grab your dust buster. I love mine! If I were to marry a household appliance, this would be the one. Don’t haul out a big vacuum. Just dust bust the big pieces of food (like the aforementioned Cheerios), any large clumps of dust or dog hair, and the trail of grass your dog (or husband) tracked in from the backyard. Ignore the tiny crumbs and small specks of dirt. Simply dust bust and move on, because you’re in a hurry, remember?

Step Four: Stash and Dash

This will take the bulk of the time you have, but I do have a few tips to speed up the pick-up process.

  • First, put all the kids’ toys in whatever receptacle you have. Do. Not. Organize. I looooove to keep things neat, orderly, and color-coded. But your guests are not going to open the toy bins and boxes. Just shove all the Shopkins somewhere and keep going.
  • Second, have a designated place for mail. It could be a bin, a box, a cabinet . . . just something. Ideally, you put the mail in there each day, but if nothing else, have a designated place for it during your stash and dash. A box of mail sitting on a table looks much better than piles all over the counter. You may even be complimented for your organization. No one needs to know that you haven’t gone through that mail all week!
  • Thirdly, put all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, even if they are not dishwasher safe. You can always take them out later to hand wash them.
  • Lastly, keep an empty laundry basket somewhere in your house. In emergencies such as these, fill it with all the things that don’t have a “place” or take too long to put away. Put the basket in the trunk of your car until your company has left. Just be sure to get it out and put things away when they leave, or you will have an even harder time later.

Step 5: Prioritize

This is the point where you are probably running around like crazy! So, think about where your guests will be in your home. Will they go in the bedrooms? If not, shut those doors and pretend there is no mess there. If you are showing your house or have out-of-town guests coming, this would be the time to very quickly make the bed (maybe skip the throw pillows). Determine which bathroom(s) may be used and do a quick once over. Use a toilet wand cleaner on the toilet if needed (do not stop for deep cleaning) and hang a fresh hand towel. Ignore all other bathrooms in the house.

Just before everyone arrives, change Paw Patrol (or whatever your little one watches) to some smooth jazz or other relaxing music and prepare to welcome your guests. Or, if your house is on the market, speed out and pretend you don’t see the realtor that is about to pull in your driveway.

How about you? What are your go-to, quick-clean tricks? I’d love to hear them in the comments!