Picture this: It’s Friday afternoon, you’re hosting a group of friends in a few hours for a cozy night in and your apartment is a disaster. You have absolutely no clue how to get your space ready in time for visitors. Mountains of dirty clothes, mail, and random stuff you swore you’d put away have taken over every surface. Before you start panic-cleaning your space from top to bottom, take a breath. We’ve put together a quick cleaning guide that will help you get your place together in a pinch, even if you’re by no means an organizational pro. The key: Focus on the messes your guests will actually notice. If you’re looking to save time as well as your sanity before your guests arrive, read on for expert tips and tricks to make your home appear squeaky clean.
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1. Switch your mindset about cleaning
First things first: It’s important to get into the right mindset about exactly why you’re cleaning. “Focus your thoughts on the positive reasons you’re having people over, which might be to gather, celebrate, and have fun,” said Linda Samuels of Oh, So Organized! “Setting an intention or clarifying your ‘why’ will influence everything you do to be guest-ready.”
2. Pick up any dirty clothes
This is a simple yet critical task! “Do a quick scan of the common space for dirty clothes hanging around and pick them up and bring them to the hamper,” urged Katrina Green of Badass Homelife Organizing. By no means do you need to wash, dry, and fold an entire load of laundry before guests arrive. Just ensure those sweaty gym shorts are tucked away from where your guests will be gathering.
3. Stock the bathroom
Guests are bound to visit the loo at some point, so make sure it’s presentable well before they ring the doorbell. “The toilet, sink, and floor must be scrubbed and sanitized,” advised Arlene Williams of Bona Fide Organizing. “I check to make sure the toilet paper and soap dispenser is topped up with liquid soap. Add a few extra clean towels for drying hands. And empty the trash bin.” To provide your guests some comfort, consider adding some hygiene products to your drawers. If possible, monitor the bathroom throughout the evening—Williams pops in periodically to confirm that her space is still clean and well-stocked.
4. Focus on clutter hotspots
Kristin Roser of Kristin + Co Organizing recommended focusing on the “clutter areas” your guests are bound to notice. “These areas are typically first seen when entering the house—think the entryway, mail drop zone, kitchen countertops, and the hall closet,” she said. To tidy these spaces on the fly, Roser offered a few quick cleaning tips. “Grab a bin, box, or laundry basket and quickly move through the cluttered spaces, gathering things that don’t belong in that space,” she suggested. “Once gathered, put these items back in their rightful storage spots.”
5. Prep refreshments ahead of time
Claudia Winkler of Wow! Organized! LLC makes it a priority to set up food and drinks before her guests arrive. “That way, instead of working, stressing, and being distracted, I can relax and enjoy spending time with my friends,” she said. Bonus: This also gives you a chance to tuck away those chip bags, dispose of empty hummus jars, and wipe up any messes you just made before anyone walks through the door.
6. Don’t dive into any major organizing projects
It may be tempting to turn your entire house upside down in the spirit of getting company-ready, but Jenna Haefelin of SPIFF Organizing advised saving any major projects for another day. “I would focus your efforts on what is in plain sight,” she said. Jean Prominski of Seattle Sparkle agreed. “Unless you really want to give your guests a tour of your entire home, ignore organizing your bedroom or spending too much time folding laundry and putting clothes away,” she suggested. “That’s what doors are for!”
However, if you are hoping to better organize your space for the long haul, consider investing in a rolling cart or two, Green suggested. She uses rolling carts in her own home to quickly corral her husband’s gear and move it out of sight. “[My husband] collects all of his tech things into the cart and rolls it away so that the space he used is now clutter-free,” she explained. “This kind of method also works for arts and crafts or toys for children… Having a rolling cart allows ease of cleanup!”