A quick kitchen clean-up can make your house look presentable when unannounced guests arrive. (Stock photo)
A quick kitchen wipe down can make your house look presentable when unannounced guests arrive. (Stock photo)

Sometimes you have plenty of advance notice to deep-clean your house for company. Other times, your spouse tells you that his long-lost high school friends are on their way over. For days when unexpected house guests catch you off guard, here’s a 20-minute “cheater’s guide” to making your house presentable. These ideas are adapted from the book “Happy Homemaking: An LDS Girl’s Guide” (Cedar Fort, 2011) by Elyssa Andrus and Natalie Hollingshead.

Five minutes: Clear the clutter. First things first, pick up and put away misplaced items. If there are only a few things strewn across the house, take the time to put each away individually. If it’s a day when your house is starting to resemble something out of the TLC show “Hoarders,” gather items into a laundry basket or storage container to be addressed later. Shut doors to messy offices, bedrooms and playrooms, with a strict promise that you’ll get around to deep-cleaning those areas … soon.

Five minutes: Pick up the powder bath. The guest bathroom is an area where visitors are very likely to go, so make sure it’s camera-ready. Wipe down the sinks and mirror, and scrub the toilet. Empty the trash and replace the liner. Make sure the hand towels are clean and that there is plenty of hand soap and toilet paper. Don’t worry about cleaning the shower: If impromptu guests ask to use it, there are bigger issues here than a messy house.

Five minutes: Clean-sweep the kitchen. Quickly put away any dishes in the sink. (In a pinch you can even hide them in the back of the refrigerator. It’s effective, if not terribly sanitary.) Wipe down the counters with a strong-smelling cleaning agent, and sweep any visible crumbs off the floor. Spot mop any big, noticeable spills or stains.

Five minutes: Add the finishing touches. Speed vacuum wherever you will be hosting your visitors. (The faster you do this, the more of an aerobic workout it provides.) Wipe down any really dusty wood with a polishing agent. Light a scented candle, put on classical music, sit down with a book and prepare to enjoy your guests. Those laundry baskets full of toys and papers will be happily waiting for you when they leave.


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