How to Speed Clean Your House When You’re Short on Time

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Follow these steps to speed clean your house when you need it to look nice, but you’re short on time or energy.

It’s been a long week. Your home is a wreck. All you want to do is unwind, but you can’t relax when surrounded by messes. Or you’ve found out that company is coming, and hate the thought of them seeing your home looking this bad. You need to know how to speed clean to fake a tidy home. Fast.

What Is Speed Cleaning?

Picture of woman's hands holding a spray bottle and sponge to speed clean house

Speed cleaning isn’t the same thing as actual cleaning. It’s important to understand that distinction. Speed cleaning shouldn’t be the only housework you do. It’s enough to make your home look clean, but that’s it.

Try not to think of it as “tidying up,” though. Too often, tidying becomes decluttering, and decluttering is not cleaning.

What’s the Point of Speed Cleaning?

If you enjoy spending hours cleaning the house, go for it. Dust those baseboards. Clean those windows. Vacuum the dust bunnies under the bed and mop your floors. At bedtime, you’ll have no problem falling asleep.

Sometimes, though, you might want your home to look clean without spending all day on it. That’s where speed cleaning helps.

How It Differs from Real Cleaning

Actual cleaning also involves attention to detail. You move things to clean under and behind them. You dust walls and baseboards before vacuuming. When you vacuum, you use the crevice tool at the base of the walls. After you dust furniture, you polish it. Ditto for glass surfaces. (Related: Printable Cleaning Checklists for Every Room.)

With speed cleaning, you do only enough for your home to look tidy and smell fresh. Then you stop.

When Should You Speed Clean?

If you have kids, you know the pattern. You spend an entire day cleaning, and two days later, your home is a wreck. A mid-week speed cleaning session keeps the mess under control.

If you have a small household of only one or two adults, you probably don’t make as much mess as busy, young families. Take back your weekends by speed cleaning every other Saturday.

Is Your Home a Wreck? This Will Help!

Speed cleaning is an excellent way to transition to a more thorough routine. Do a round of it one day. A few days later, do it again, but add in some detailed tasks. Repeat that, changing the rooms you focus effort on, and you’ll soon have your home under control. (Related: How to Find Motivation to Clean Your House.)

How To Speed Clean Your House

Overhead shot of spray bottle, rubber glove and sponge surrounding an old-fashioned wind-up alarm clock for speed cleaning your house

Speed cleaning focuses on surfaces, so you don’t need to haul around a lot of equipment. Here’s what you need:

  • A laundry basket or box to hold clutter
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Several microfiber cloths (I use these.)
  • Vacuum cleaner or broom

Work in This Order

The idea here is to create the impression of cleanliness. So, start at the entryway. That’s where guests form their first impression, and also the first thing you see when you get home. From there, you’ll move onto the more “public” areas of your house — the kitchen, living room, and guest bathroom.

Wrap up your speed cleaning session in the private areas of bedrooms and other bathrooms. (Working in this order means you can also close the doors on any areas you don’t have time to reach.)

Your Entryway

  • Gather clutter in the basket. Set it aside.
  • Throw away any trash you find.
  • Spray and wipe the doorknob, inside and out.
  • Shake your Welcome mat outside.
  • Sweep or vacuum any debris you see.

Your Living Room

This is the room where you entertain guests, whether you call it a living room, parlor, sitting room, or lounge. Getting it clutter-free and tidy creates the impression that the rest of your home is that way, too. If you never entertain, you’ll at least have a place where you can relax alone.

  • Throw away any trash you find.
  • Collect clutter and things that belong elsewhere in the basket. Set it aside.
  • Straighten books, magazines, or other items on tabletops.
  • Use a damp microfiber cloth to dust the free space on all horizontal surfaces. (Tabletops, bookshelves, window sills, etc.)
  • Neaten throw blankets and sofa cushions. Fluff throw pillows.
  • Use the vacuum’s upholstery attachment to clean seating surfaces.
  • Sweep or vacuum high-traffic areas.

Your Kitchen

A tidy kitchen makes everything from cooking meals to fixing a cup of tea more pleasant. Guests always seem to wander into the kitchen, too, so speed-clean it to avoid embarrassment.

  • Gather clutter in the basket. Set it aside to deal with later.
  • Empty the sink. Get a microfiber cloth and add a drop of dish soap. Scrub the sink and faucets then rinse.
  • Use a dry cloth to buff water spots on the window above your sink. Repeat with the faucet.
  • Spray free space on counters and appliance fronts and wipe them. Repeat with kitchen table and stovetop.
  • Sweep or vacuum the high-traffic areas of the floor. Use a damp cloth to wipe any dirty spots you see.
  • Empty the trash.
  • Set out a clean dish towel.

Your Bathrooms

Whatever bathroom your guests use deserves a bit of extra effort. Focus on getting high-touch surfaces sparkling clean and eliminating sources of odor.

  • Put away things left on the countertop.
  • Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe debris from the counter and sink, then the tank and base of the toilet.
  • Spray the toilet seat and bowl with disinfectant. Let it sit.
  • Using a microfiber cloth and disinfectant spray, clean the counter, sink, and faucets.
  • Wipe the toilet seat.
  • Use a brush to scrub the toilet bowl. Flush.
  • Use a dry microfiber cloth to buff water spots on the mirror and faucets.
  • Sweep or vacuum the floor.
  • Empty the trash can.
  • Check supplies of toilet paper, towels, and soap.

Your Family’s Bedrooms

If you’re speed cleaning for short-term visitors, you can skip the bedrooms. Otherwise, speed clean to keep them tidy between deeper cleanings

  • Throw away any trash you find.
  • Hang up clean clothes that are on the floor or in the chair.
  • Pick up the clutter and put it in the basket. Set it aside.
  • Make the bed.
  • Put away things on the nightstand and dresser.
  • Using a damp microfiber cloth, wipe the free space on all horizontal surfaces.
  • Sweep or vacuum the high traffic areas.

Finishing Touches

  • Go through the basket of clutter. Sort the contents based on the room where they belong. Put things away.
  • Light scented candles to freshen the air, or use a homemade air freshener spray. When things smell clean, they seem clean, even if they’re not.

Get Results with Speed Cleaning!

Following these speed cleaning steps is a great way to get your home company-ready when you’re in a rush. Even if you aren’t expecting guests, though, a speed cleaning session gets your home tidy. It can substitute for a weekly cleaning session if your family tends to be neat. For bigger families, a mid-week speed cleaning session helps keep messes under control. Make it a part of your week.

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