Your bachelor pad. Your family home. That apartment with all the architectural detail and the amazing view. Wherever you live, houses get messy. And they stay that way, until you clean them. When your plans to let someone inside ends up happening before your hopes of getting your home back to normal, then it's time to clean it. Quickly.
You don't have the time to deep clean and scrub, so make the little bit you have count. If you're smart and focused, you can pull it off in the running time of your favorite record.
45:00 – Pick a music album (or playlist) you know and love. Not Ramones-length short, but no double LPs here either. An average 12-14 song album that you can sing along to and not focus on. Your house will be clean by the time the secret bonus track comes on.
44:00 – Fill up the sink with hot soapy water. Or, if you have a dishwasher, make sure it's empty with the racks pulled out. You're gonna need somewhere to place all the dirty plates and coffee mugs lying around all over the house.
42:00 – Start in the Bedroom.
- Pick up all your laundry and put it in the hamper. Don't worry about emptying pockets or removing belts or turning socks right side out – just get it off the floor. If your hampers are overflowing, place items in laundry baskets and put them in the most hidden corner of your room.
- Pick up any books and magazines and stack them neatly. Clean off dressers and side tables. Close all dresser drawers, making sure there's no little pieces of sock or t-shirt sticking out of the closure.
- Make your bed like you mean it. Arrange pillows neatly.
38:00 – Begin the bathroom and kitchen. You can't make the whole thing spotless, so focus on the areas that need the most help. Use time and the power of the cleaners to your advantage.
- Put your toiletries and daily use items away and where they belong. Hang up towels.
- Then spray the hard surfaces with bathroom cleaner. Get the sink, faucet, outside of the toilet, and the bottom of the tub or shower. You can use the shower curtain or doors to your advantage. Just clean the outside. (Unless you know someone will be using it. Then spray away.)
- Fill the toilet bowl with toilet cleaner, getting as high up as possible (that's where the real crud lives).
- Spray cleanser on the kitchen surfaces: stovetop, counters, and any sticky spots on the floor.
32:00 – Tackle the Living Room.
- Deal with the surfaces: clean off the coffee table, entertainment cabinet, side tables etc. Stack books and magazines and place remote on top.
- Fold blankets, then smooth cushions and neatly arrange pillows. It sounds fussy, but it's amazing what a difference it will make.
- Roll up any cables or cords, close and store your laptop, and turn on all lamps.
- Embrace the stack. If you don't have time to put things where they belong, place them on top of each other from largest to smallest. It might not look like an display of objets d'art, but it'll look like you intentionally put them there. Which you did.
25:00 – Finish the bathroom.
- Wipe down all the surfaces that have been soaking.
- Clean the toilet insides with a toilet brush. You cannot scrub too hard.
- Use an antibacterial wipe to clean the outside of the toilet and the area around the bowl. Don't get that stuff on your good sponge.
- Use a wet paper towel to clean the floor, wiping up all the hairs and beard trimmings and other goodies that end up in cracks and crevices.
- Replace the hand towel your guest will use, and light a candle if you have one.
- Essential #1: Empty the bathroom trash so no one sees your dirty q-tips and other unmentionables.
- Essential #2: Clean the mirror with glass cleaner and a paper towel. YOU MAY NOT SKIP THIS. It takes 90 seconds, and getting all those toothpaste splashes and water drops off the mirror is the single most important thing you can do to make your bathroom look clean.
- Use the glass-cleaner towel to polish the sink, faucets, or other metal fixtures. It's the sparkle that counts.
17:30 – Kitchen It Up.
- You're still singing along right? This is what keeps you sane.
- Wipe down all the surfaces you sprayed before, including counters and cooktops. Get all the crumbs and coffee grounds and salt and stuff out of the corners and edges.
- Wipe off the front of microwaves, toaster ovens, refrigerators, etc. If you have stainless steel appliances, use those little wipes intended for the stainless. Those things are &#*%ing magical.
- Deal with the dishes. Like faster than you've ever dealt with dishes before. Food-encrusted plates and dirty glasses are what makes your house look gross. Figure it out. Don't get obsessive, just get it done.
- Finish by wiping out the sink and polishing the faucet. See: bathroom.
5:00 – Sweep the [floor], Johnny.
- Bust out the vacuum and do all carpets and rugs. If you don't have much time left, focus on the paths from the door to the sofa, bed, and the bathroom. Those not only will be the dirtiest, but are the places your guests will see.
- If your vacuum can handle it, use the hard floor setting to do the kitchen, baths, or any tile/wood floors. If not, bust out the broom and work quick. Make several little piles and then come around with the dustpan at the end to finish up.
- You probably don't have time to mop, so use an antibacterial wipe or two to scrub up grimy or sticky spots and remove built-up crud. A wet Swiffer thing will also get it done fast.
- Use any extra time to dust hard surfaces in the living and bedroom.