5 Minute “Cleaning” Tips

Everyone's been there at some point: your friends or family give you a call and say, “Hey, we're in the neighborhood, mind if we drop by for a minute?” Even as you tell them yes, you're looking around at your messy house, trying to decide what to get clean first!

Obviously, the best prevention is to keep the house clean. Maid services and a little daily maintenance can help with that! Even with those precautions, though; sometimes the mess just can't be helped. What can you do when you've got 5 minutes before guests arrive?

Focus on what people see most.For the pros at Apartment Therapy, this is the toilets, tabletop, and TV (a dusty TV can capture someone's attention pretty quickly!). You could extend that to mirrors and other surfaces in the room—but only if you have time. Clean, empty areas give the illusion that the space is cleaner than it actually is.

Dishes? What dishes? This is one of those tips you're going to cringe at and then find a use for pretty quickly. If the sink is full of dishes and you don't have time to wash them before your guests arrive, put them in your oven. It sounds strange, but not too many people are likely to come in and open your oven!

If you use this trick, there are two notes: 1) don't turn on your oven and 2) make sure you take the dishes out and wash them once your company leaves.

That couch is for the birds—or the cats. Do you have animals that insist on sleeping on your couch or favorite chair? This tip comes from an Apartment Therapy commenter: put a throw on your pets' favorite piece of furniture. Instead of shedding on the couch, they'll leave their fur on the blanket.

Store an extra throw or a pair of pillows nearby, and when company is on the way, stash the furry blanket and replace it with your decorative throw or pillows. No one will know that they're sitting on the cat's couch (except the cats!).