Time to read:4 minutes
Crisis cleaning for last-minute guests can help save your sanity as well as your friendships.
Let’s face it: sometimes, despite having the best intentions, the house becomes a horrible mess, and you just don’t notice it until your phone rings and the Room Mom from your kid’s class or nosy Aunt Enda says they’re stopping by in a few minutes for a quick chat.
Don’t feel bad because it happens to all of us, including me.
The thing is, anyone who knows me also knows that I don’t like surprise visitors. Ever. Between working at home and being an introvert, I need–and expect–a few days’ warning to give myself a chance to prepare the guest room as well as myself. Unfortunately, some folks won’t listen.
Aunt Edna is one of those people. Once when she dropped by and rang the doorbell, I pretended not to be home, which would have worked had my youngest not shouted, “Look, it’s Aunt Edna!” So then I had to pretend that I hadn’t been pretending not to be home and deal with her disapproving perusal of my home. (See why I don’t like her?)
Crisis Cleaning for Last-Minute Guests
Now, this admittedly won’t work for those rude people who just show up on your doorstep and ring the bell, expecting you to drop everything to greet them. Ever noticed those people are invariably freshly showered, dressed nicely, and well-caffeinated? Meanwhile, you’re wearing yesterday’s workout clothes, maybe covered in baby spit-up, and haven’t had a chance to sit down to catch your breath, much less have a cup of coffee.
There’s really no help for dealing with people like that except using a daily cleaning routine or giving serious thought to cutting them out of your life, whichever you prefer.
To get your house clean enough for guests who at least have enough manners to call ahead, however briefly, here’s help.
Grab Your Supplies
When you’re in crisis cleaning mode you do not have time to run back and forth between rooms looking for your supplies, so grab them before you start.
You will need:
- A timer
- A laundry basket
- A large trash bag
- Several microfiber or other cleaning cloths
- Disinfecting wipes
- All-purpose spray cleaner
- Glass cleaner
- A broom and/or vacuum
- Air freshener
- Empty the dishes in the sink. If you can, put them in the dishwasher but don’t run it. If there’s no room, shove them in the oven. Yes, really. Just remind yourself to get them out of the oven and wash them when your company leaves.
- Gather any countertop clutter and throw it into the laundry basket. Crisis Cleaning is about making things look tidy, not actual organization, so you’ll have to deal with the clutter later if there’s time.
- Throw trash into the garbage can.
- Spray the counters with the all-purpose cleaner and quickly wipe them. Repeat with the fronts of appliances, the inside of the sink, and the faucets.
- Quickly sweep or vacuum the floor.
- Use a disinfecting wipe to clean any spots on the floor.
- Spray the air freshener.
- Turn the bathroom fan on to rid the room of any lingering odors and the scent of your cleaning sprays.
- Splash some all-purpose cleaner in the toilet and let it sit.
- Clean any spots from the mirror and polish the faucet fixtures.
- Use the disinfecting wipe on the vanity and sink basin, then wipe down the toilet seat and inner rim.
- Give the toilet a quick brush then flush it.
- Replace the towels with clean ones.
- Quickly sweep the floor then use a disinfecting wipe to clean up any obvious spots.
- Turn off the fan. Spray the air freshener.
The Guest Room
(Skip this if guests are just popping by to chat.)
- Toss any clutter into the laundry basket. (See explanation above.)
- Shake the curtains to dislodge dust.
- Change the sheets. Be sure to fluff the pillows before making the bed.
- Dampen a clean microfiber cloth and use it to dust the furniture. Pay extra attention to the headboard, nightstand, and dresser top.
- Use the glass cleaner to get rid of any smudges on the inside of the windows.
- Polish any other reflective surfaces like doorknobs, dresser pulls, and picture fronts.
- Quickly vacuum the floor.
- Spray air freshener. (Pro tip: very lightly spray air freshener on the light bulb and it will scent the room when the light is in use. Just be sure the light bulb is cool before you do this!)
The Living Room
- Toss clutter into a laundry basket. (See explanation above.)
- Put trash in the trash bag.
- Straighten sofa pillows and neatly fold any throw blankets.
- Spray all-purpose cleaner on a cleaning cloth and wipe away any food spills from table tops.
- Use the same cleaning cloth to wipe pet hair off of furniture.
- Neatly arrange items on the coffee or side tables.
- Use the broom or vacuum to pick up obvious crumbs or pet hair on the floor.
- Spray the air freshener.
This is where your guest’s first impression will be made, so don’t skip it!
- Wipe down the door knob, inside and out.
- Shake off the Welcome Mat.
- Quickly sweep the front step.
- If you’ve got a glass storm door, give it a quick polish.
- Step back inside and toss any shoes, sports equipment, and other clutter into the laundry basket.
- Sweep up any crumbs or pet hair.
- Use a disinfecting wipe to clean up any obvious spots on the floor.
- Spray air freshener.
- Take the laundry basket full of stuff to your bedroom closet and hide it to deal with when your guest leaves.
If you have a few minutes to spare, do the following, too:
- Empty all trash cans and take the trash out.
- Add a touch of hospitality to the guest room with a box of tissues, a book or two for your guest to read if they’re so inclined, and a water carafe with a drinking glass (or some bottled water) in case they get thirsty at night.
- Fill your home with a welcoming scent by simmering on the stove 2 cups of water, 2 whole cloves, a cinnamon stick, and half an apple, orange or lemon.
Don’t forget YOU!
Before Aunt Edna sticks her nose into your house, she’ll be forming an opinion of how it looks based on how you’re looking. Take a moment to comb your hair, then change into workout gear and throw a towel around your neck.
You’re probably huffing and puffing from the last-minute mad dash, anyway, so just tell her you’ve been doing aerobics because, really, shouldn’t we all try to take care of our bodies? Then give her a slow glance up and down and she’ll think twice before expressing any further disapproval.