We’ve all been there: in deep denial over an unexpected guest or parent’s visit, and it looks like the fraternal order of hoarders has been squatting in your apartment. Which means it’s time to clean. Fast.
The thing is, when time is limited, the trick is to be strategic about where and how and in what order you do your chores. But before we get into the details: Put on some music. It will help make the cleaning feel less gruesome. Next, tuck a trash bag in your pants. That will make more sense in a sec, but for now just trust us.
You will need:
- Scrubbing Bubbles (or a similar foaming bathroom cleaner)
- Dish soap
- All-purpose cleaning spray, like 409
- Glass cleaner
- Trash bags
- Paper towels
Bathroom — 1 Minute
Start in the bathroom by removing everything from the sink and tub ledge, and anything perched on the toilet tank. Then spray the tub, toilet, and sink down with Scrubbing Bubbles. Grab any dirty clothes or towels that have been left around, and head to the bedroom.
Bedroom — 5 Minutes
First thing’s first: Make your bed. Even if you do nothing else, making the bed is the one thing that will make the space look much, much tidier than it actually is. And it will really take just a minute! If that!
After that, use the remaining four minutes to pick any clothes up off the floor and put them in the hamper (including what you removed from the bathroom). Clothes that aren’t quite ready for the laundry can be draped neatly on a chair or at the foot of the bed. On your way out, grab any water glasses or other kitchen items that have made their way to the bedroom. Deposit those in the kitchen and head to the living room.
Living Room — 5 Minutes
The living room clean up will be similar, just applied to different furniture. So, start by taking fluffing and straightening the cushions and any throw blankets and pillows. Tidy the coffee and end tables by corralling remote controls, straightening piles of books or magazines, and tossing out any junk mail or old catalogues. This is where that trash bag tucked into your pants will come in handy.
On your way out, grab any water glasses or other kitchen items that have made their way to the living room. Head to the kitchen.
Kitchen — 10 minutes
If you do only one thing here, let it be the dishes. Nothing screams FILTHY KITCHEN like a sinkful of dirty dinnerware. If you’ve got a dishwasher, great. If not, make short work of it by plugging up the kitchen sink, filling it halfway up with hot, soapy water, and allowing the dishes to soak while you take five minutes to put any clean dishes and foodstuffs away, wipe the counters with an all-purpose spray, and toss trash in the garbage pail.
After tidying up the kitchen surfaces, go back into the sink with your sponge or other scrubbing apparatus and wash the dishes while they’re still submerged in the hot soapy water. Now drain the dirty water and rinse the dishes, checking to be sure you got them entirely clean and giving them another go-over if they need it. Stick those dishes in your drying rack (you have one, right?) and head back to the bathroom for the final sprint.
Bathroom — Remaining 9 Minutes
The bulk of your hustle is going to happen in the bathroom. But it’s important, because guests inevitably want to use your bathroom.
When you get back in there, you’ll find that those Scrubbing Bubbles have done a lot of work for you. Take the first four minutes to wipe the tub, toilet, and sink free of the Bubbles, and marvel at how painless that was.
Next up, spend 1 minute using glass cleaner to wipe your mirrors free of toothpaste spittle and to shine up chrome fixtures. Another 2 minutes should be spent straightening hand and bath towels, emptying the wastepaper basket into that trash bag you’ve been carrying around in your pants (you can take it out of your pants now, by the way) and putting stray and/or embarrassing items away — stash your hemorrhoid cream, dude. Your mum will appreciate it.
Use those final 2 minutes to grab your vacuum and go to town on stray hairs. If you have tile floors, be sure not to use a model with a beater bar, which can cause damage — better switch to a hose attachment in that case.
Got 5 More Minutes?
Guests running late? Grand! Since the vacuum is already out, take those extra five minutes to run it in the living room and kitchen.
Only Got 15 Minutes?
Take one minute to close the bedroom door and pile dirty dishes neatly in the sink, then use the remaining 14 minutes to clean the living room and bathroom. Just skip the tub cleaning portion of the festivities by closing the shower curtain, then pray your guests lack any eye for detail.
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