Don't feel bad if you find yourself scurrying like mad before a guest comes over in an attempt to make your house clean. Instead, give yourself a break and aim for the appearance of clean rather than trying to get your entire house clean in the span of 5 minutes.
Stash the Clutter
A mad dash around the house with a basket or bucket in hand to pick stuff up can do wonders. Toys that are scattered about, empty soda cans, or just about anything that's out of place can be shoved into the basket and then dealt with later.
- Leave a little room between your couch and the wall et voila, you have a place to dump stuff when someone is coming over.
- If you're not cooking for your guest, your oven becomes the perfect dumping grounds for dirty dishes.
- Any room behind closed doors is fair game as a clutter storage area.
Clean the John
It never fails -- just when you think your guest won't see any of your mess, she slips into your bathroom where your kids have left towels on the ground and toothpaste gobs all over the sink.
If your bathroom is like most bathrooms, it's used frequently and hardly ever clean, let alone spotless. This is a great room to hang one of those inspirational signs about how your family does messy and big love and all that jazz. So even if the room isn't close to clean, your visitor will think to herself, "Of course it's not clean in here; this family's too busy loving one another to worry about towels on the floor!" There's nothing like a little psychological warfare to sway your visitor's perception of your home.
Of course, a tub of all-purpose cleaning wipes will be your biggest ally in your pursuit of a clean appearance. Keep the tub of wipes under your sink and do a quick wipe-through of everything: counter top, mirror, and top of the toilet included. You'll be amazed at how much you can clean with these wipes in 30 seconds.
Leave a Little Mystery
Who says that a visitor needs to go snooping around your entire home? Close the doors to cluttered bedrooms and it's almost as if you took the time to clean the rooms! You can use these closed rooms as the dumping grounds for everything you threw into bins and baskets around your house.
If you can't close the doors to messy rooms, take a quick moment to shove anything in sight in those rooms out of sight - for example, the pile of dirty clothes next to the bed can be quickly kicked and shoved under the bed.
Add Some Ambiance
The brighter the light in your home, the easier it is to spot a mess. Resist turning on every lamp and opening every curtain and instead, allow the lack of bright lights help hide the layer of dust. As a bonus, your guest can't notice your smudged windows if the curtains are closed.
If it Smells Clean....
Spray some cleaning products in the air before your guest arrives. It will smell as if you spent the day toiling and cleaning instead of the last five minutes throwing stuff into bins. Dusting spray works well for this. In rooms where dusting doesn't make sense, spray some air freshener.
Flip That House
If your couch cushions are covered in stains and pet hair, take a moment to flip the cushions over before your guest arrives, suggests Real Simple. It helps if you consistently have an "everyday side" of your couch cushions and a "guest side" of your couch cushions.
If you have enough time, replace damp, dirty towels with clean ones. A guest wiping hands off on a soiled, damp hand towel is a dead giveaway of a less than clean home. Do this in both the bathroom and the kitchen.
The Myth of the Perfectly Clean Home?
Nobody's house is perfectly clean all the time. If you find a friend unexpectedly at your doorstep wanting to come in for a visit, try not to panic if you don't have time for your mad 5-minute dash. A true friend won't allow a little messiness to be offensive.