9 Shortcuts to Fake a Clean House

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Whether you’ve got last-minute company coming or just can’t stand the mess, these shortcuts help you fake a clean house when you’re short on time.

Fake cleaning concept shot of woman holding bucket of cleaning supplies and tossing cleaners in air

Let’s face it: sometimes you want a home that looks clean but don’t have the time or energy to bother. That’s where cleaning shortcuts to fake a clean house come in. They’re not the same as a true cleaning session, but they also don’t take a lot of time, either.

How to Fake a Clean House

So, maybe you’ve had a long week at work and, rather than spending your Saturday doing the whole weekly cleaning routine, you just want it to look good enough. Or maybe you’ve got friends coming over who don’t expect your home to be spotless, but you don’t want it to look like a mess, either. That’s when you follow these steps to make your home look clean without having to spend a lot of time on it.

1. Air it Out

A stale, musty smell will make any home seem dirtier than it is. On the other hand, fresh air makes everything feel cleaner than it is. So, before you continue with the steps to fake a clean house, open the curtains and windows, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes.

2. Grab and Toss Trash

Get rid of any empty food wrappers, wads of tissue, and piles of junk mail sitting on your counters or tables. Empty the trashcans, too — they can make your home look and smell awful. If you’re cleaning for guests, take a shortcut and focus on the rooms they’re most likely to visit: the bathrooms, kitchen, and guest bedroom.

3. Clear and Wipe Tabletops

There’s always a spot on the coffee table in a clean home for guests to set a beverage. The same goes for the dining or kitchen table. So, if you want to fake a clean house, make sure those surfaces are clutter-free and clean. In fact, keeping at least one horizontal surface bare in every room is key to ending household clutter, so get in the habit of doing this.

4. Straighten and Fluff Pillows

Sofas, loveseats, cozy chairs, and beds all draw the eye when you enter a room. Don’t leave them all piled randomly on one end of the sofa or tossed on the floor. Arranging them neatly makes your seating areas look more inviting whether or not you give them that trendy “chop.” Don’t forget to fluff bed pillows, too!

5. Clean the Bathroom Basics

When you’re faking a clean house, the bathroom should get most of your time and effort. No one wants to use a dirty bathroom or for their guests to use one that looks and smells filthy. Take time to clean and disinfect the toilet, then wipe the sink basins and countertops. Polish faucets and mirrors to get rid of water spots, too, then set out fresh towels.

6. Shake the Mats

Placing a mat at your home’s entrances helps keep dirt from getting tracked inside. Following a no-shoes rule helps keep your carpets clean, too. But when your mats are dirty, anyone entering your home will track in more dirt. Give them a good shake outside or vacuum them quickly, and your guests won’t mind shedding their shoes at the door.

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7. Vacuum the Main Strip

If you don’t have the time to properly vacuum your home, at least go over the main paths through every room. In sitting areas, that includes the floor around your coffee and end tables, and underneath them if the floor is visible. In other rooms, clean where people are likely to walk, but don’t bother moving chairs or small furniture unless you see a mess there.

8. Sweep the Step

Once you’ve used the other cleaning shortcuts to fake-clean your home, head to the front door and sweep the step. While you’re there, knock down any cobwebs and pick up any dead leaves or other debris you find. A tidy entryway creates a good first impression, which will help the rest of your home look better.

9. Spray Some Scent

A homey, welcoming fragrance is a nice finishing touch to your fake cleaning session. A quick walkthrough spritzing homemade air freshener spray also gives you a chance before guests arrive to make sure you didn’t overlook anything. Or, if you’re short on time, simmer a pot of cinnamon sticks and citrus peels or even an orange spice tea bag on your stove to create an inviting scent.

Remember, faking a clean home is about establishing comfortable spots to sit and banishing the worst sources of odors and dirt. Once you’ve tackled those with these cleaning shortcuts, you can feel confident your home is tidy enough for friends and family to visit — as long as they’re not the type to wear white gloves.

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