This is not your mama’s spring cleaning post. If you’re looking for some tips on how to deep clean your house, there are some very put-together bloggers out there who can help you out. I am NOT your girl. Unfortunately, the housekeeping gene (yes, I do believe there’s such a thing) has skipped over me. Sorry, mom, I know you tried.
But there is a cleaning skill I’m amazing at. That’s making my house presentable really quickly when company’s coming over.
My husband and I are church planters. About nine years ago, we started a church here in Albuquerque where we knew zero people. One of the ways we got to know people is by having them to dinner. There were some weeks we were having people over to our house four or five times a week. You guys, it was insane. Even though that pre-launch phase of starting a church is over, I still play the hostess often . . . at least weekly. And more often than not, the deep cleaning is just not going to happen.
So here are my tips for cleaning (well, not really cleaning, but making your house presentable) in one hour.
Disclaimer . . . this method only works if you’re pretty much keeping up with the house. If absolutely everything is disgusting, you’ll need to develop some kind of system or have a cleaning service come every so often.
1. First of all, relax!
Here is the conclusion I’ve come to. My guests are going to feel comfortable if I’m relaxed and not frantic. Plus, nobody wants crazy mom.
2. Motivation matters (and brings perspective).
Why do I want a neat house before company arrives? Am I trying to show off what an amazing housekeeper and decorator I am? If my deep-down, secret goal is to impress my guests and display my Martha Stewart skills, my motivation is completely self-centered. My focus should be on my guests, not myself! When my motivation is to provide a welcoming environment for my guests where they can feel comfortable, then I can breathe so much easier.
Life is so hard! My hope is that when a guest steps across my threshold, they get some much-needed relief, even if it’s just for a couple of hours, from the tough stuff of life.
My guests’ motivation matters too. Obviously, I want them to feel comfortable. But if their goal is to come over and white-glove my baseboards or eat off my tile, they are probably not my people. And I’m OK with that. If you’re visiting me to judge me, “Bye, Felicia!”
3. Prepare earlier in the day, if possible.
I usually have kid things, work things, or church things going on during the day, but there are some steps I can take to prepare early in the day if I know I’m having people over in the evening. First of all, I make sure I’m dressed and ready. Let’s not be straightening our hair ten minutes before our guests arrive. Also, run the dishwasher so that’s ready to be emptied and loaded again.
I know someone who gets her hair blown out at a blow-dry bar when she’s hosting. This might not be super cost-effective, but regardless it’s a genius move.
4. Turn on the automated things.
I have a robotic vacuum cleaner that is worth its weight in gold. When I first begin cleaning, I turn it on and let it vacuum the crumbs, dog hair, and dirt while I do other things it can’t do. I remember thinking when I first got it that it was such a frivolous purchase. Now I wouldn’t trade it for a million bucks. (But read my caution about the contraption here.) I don’t recommend starting the dishwasher, washer, or dryer if you are trying to clean your house in one hour because they’ll still be running by the time your guests arrive.
5. Focus on the seen, not the unseen.
I have a two-story house. My guests are not going to go upstairs. Do I love having a messy upstairs? No way! Is anyone going to look in my closets? Unlikely! Am I gonna spend my one hour on the parts of my house they will never see? Nope!
6. Employ the children.
You can train your kids to help clean your house in one hour. My kids and I have things down to a science when company is on the way. Of course, kids should be able to clean their own rooms. But here are some other things my kids do when we are down to the wire.
- unload the dishwasher
- take out the trash (in the kitchen and the bathrooms)
- take out the recycling
- vacuum the stairs
- wash the French door windows
- wipe the leather couch
- run the lint brush over that one couch that collects dog hair
Will this be the most amazing dusting/vacuuming/wiping your house has ever had? No, but it’s definitely good enough when you’re on a time crunch. I usually glance over the things the kids were supposed to do . . . just in case.
7. Clear the clutter.
I go through each room downstairs and collect everything that doesn’t belong. I start a pile for each kid and they are responsible for taking those items to their rooms. Put away or throw away any mail or papers. Put everything in its home. (My rule of thumb: if it doesn’t have a home, I probably don’t need it.)
8. Wash and wipe.
Load any dishes into the dishwasher. Wash any pots and pans by hand. Wipe your table, counters, and appliances. Spot check your tile and wipe any spills or stains. Push in chairs. Then put any dishes in the dish drainer away.
9. Wipe bathrooms.
There’s not time to scrub your bathroom(s) with a toothbrush if you are cleaning your house in one hour. But you can certainly wipe all the surfaces. Also, pour some cleaner in the toilet bowl and scrub it quickly with a brush. Check for a fresh hand towel. Light a candle. Done!
10. IN CASE OF EXTREME EMERGENCY ONLY
I don’t recommend these measures. And of course, they’re only temporary. But if you are under a super-duper short time crunch, you can put unwashed dishes in the oven. (Just don’t forget about them.) You can also put dry clothes you didn’t have time to fold back in the dryer. They’ll still be there tomorrow!
There you go! You’ve cleaned your house in one hour.
Lastly, put on a smile and enjoy your guests!
Originally published March 2019.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.