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The holidays are coming up fast! Next week Thursday it is Thanksgiving already, and then Christmas quickly follows. Chances are you will at some point need to get your regular messy home (I’m assuming you’re normal and not an OCD cleaning freak) company ready.
So, aren’t you so glad that I am going to share my secrets on how I turned my mess of a downstairs (sorry, just focusing on the main entertainment areas today) to a clean, guest-ready space in just under 40 minutes?! The best part came at the end when I got to use my new awesome microfiber spray mop, that made the final step in the cleaning process a breeze.
What my Messy Home Looked Like Before:
Where do you begin?
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Sometimes during the holiday season, you may have surprise guests and need your house to be spotless, or at least clean enough, before the in-laws show up, or that friend you haven’t seen in months, or even your next door neighbor. And perhaps you’ve been so busy during November and December with all the ridiculous amount of Holiday events, Christmas programs, and shopping, that you may have let that housework slide this time of year (I mean, something has to go, right?)
And, let’s face it: we all like to pretend like our houses are immaculate all the time, so we feel this crazy desire to pick up and sweep up and mop up before we have visitors in our home, no matter what relation they are to us.
But, when you are strapped for time, and your house is a disaster (like I showed you in the video above , and no, I did not purposefully make my house a mess, and yes, you are welcome that I am keeping it real, honest, and raw here on my blog), it can be all sorts of overwhelming on knowing where to start cleaning a messy house and how to get it all done in a short period of time.
So, pay attention to the following tips, and you will hopefully be done in about 30-40 minutes, depending on how large your space is, how much you need to clean up, and how big of a mess it is when you start.
1. Assess the Situation
What needs to be cleaned? In my opinion, I only really need to clean the main area, the downstairs, of our home before we have company over. Most people will never venture upstairs. However, keeping the guest bathroom clean is a good thing to do too (and not my strong suit – sorry friends!) although it may not get used. So, figure out what needs to be done first, and then what to do if you have time. For this post, I’m just focusing on the main entertaining areas in my home, since I want my guests to be comfortable while over at my house.
2. Enlist Help
Since you likely don’t live alone, you should enlist the help of your roommates or family to help you get the house presentable in a short amount of time. With three young children, who make most of the mess around here, I definitely enlisted their help, and that of my husband. I couldn’t get my home company ready in 40 minutes without them! So, if you are like me and have some available child labor at your disposal, put them to work!
Children Cleaning Assignments and How to Motivate Them to Help
Children are very capable at wiping down the table, chairs, stools, and counters. They should also pick up and put away all of their toys, shoes, jackets, books, and clothing in the proper areas. The following are some good motivators, should your child need a little help in that regard: set a timer and make it a game, bribe them with a reward or treat, or threaten them that anything left on the floor and not picked up will be swept up and thrown in the trash. Whichever method fits your parenting ideologies (and I’d love for some other good suggestions in the comments below too). Kids are also capable of taking out some trash or recycling. And of course, they can help load and unload the dishwasher.
Splitting up the tasks makes the job so much more doable in a short time frame. While my kids are wiping and picking up, with my husband making sure they are staying on task (and picking up stuff himself), I can wash the dishes, sweep, put other things away, or organize a flat surface.
3. Clean Top to Bottom
First, a little lesson in how to clean efficiently and effectively: start from top to bottom. Don’t sweep and mop before you’ve wiped down your counters, or you’ll just be making more work for yourself. Start with the table tops and counters, letting those crumbs, bits, and scraps fall onto the floor where they will soon we swept away.
*Sidenote: Did you know dish rags are only like $3 for a 4-pack at Walmart? I had been using some ratty, holey, smelly, tinted from cleaning grime, dishcloths, until I finally bought some new ones at Walmart. Why did I wait so long? Aren’t they pretty?
As you clean off the counter and tabletops, make sure to load the dishwasher. Or, if it’s clean, unload it so you can put new dirty dishes in there. If it’s already full of dirty dishes, run that bad boy, and stack whatever dishes don’t fit, or shouldn’t be put in there, in the sink which you will clean in just a minute. Put your wet, but clean, dishes in your drying rack (or fancy kitchen towel like me), and move to the next task.
Can I just say how happy I am that we don’t have a carpeted dining area anymore?! Keeping the dining area clean has been so easy. I almost never have to pull out the vacuum now. However, we do have a floor rug in the living area that collects dirt as well as stairs, that any guests to our home will see. My quick fix? Sweep them off. Don’t bother with the canister or upright vacuum, just sweep off the stairs and the rug and even the doormat and kitchen mats. I do this all the time now, and love it. Of course I still vacuum them off every so often, but for that company that is coming over soon, I just sweep the popcorn kernels off the rug onto the hardwood floor where I put it in dust pan, and throw the dirt away.
As I said that I am new to the hardwood floors (okay, really they are laminate, but whatever), I have had to figure out the best way to mop a very large area. Since we moved here I picked up a more traditional mop, and would fill up one side of my sink (which means I had to clean my sink first before I could mop). However, I recently picked up an O-Cedar ProMist Spray Mop at Walmart, along with a replacement microfiber head, and this beauty is saving me some serious time.The ProMist just has a little water bottle that you add water to and just two tablespoons of a floor cleaning solution of your choice, and then you click it into place on the handle of the mop.
You pull down the handle to spray ahead of the mop, and then get cleaning. Just be sure not to move the mop too fast or you might dribble a little extra water on the floor. The spray is plenty wet, but the floor dries really quickly and without ugly streaks.I’m also a fan of the head rotates 360 degrees, and the microfiber pad is bigger than the plastic part holding it there (securely with Velcro) so it can get in nice and tight in those corners and it’s slim enough to fit under the stove and fridge better too. And since the pad is washable, all you have to do is throw it in the wash when you are done, which means saving money because you don’t need to buy more than like one or two.
And the great part is that the spray mop itself is pretty inexpensive at $22.98 and an extra pad for only $7.48 at Walmart.
6. Rearrange Furniture and Organize Papers
And the last thing is to make sure all the tables and chairs get put back where they need to go, and that work surfaces and papers get organized or thrown away.
Now your home is company ready, even on a short notice!
A Company Ready Home:
Tell me, what are you secrets for cleaning last minute during the busy holiday season?
Then be sure to check out my other post about After Dinner Clean-up: 7 Things to Do Before You go to Bed, especially if you are hosting a holiday party.
I like that spray mop. I bet ti would work well on our laminate.
Melissa @ Serendipity and Spice says
First of all let me say THANK YOU! My house looks exactly like that….and I only have 1 kid! It’s so refreshing to see “real life” in someone else’s home. In fact I think Little Man’s toothbrush is sitting next to the TV too. Anyway, kudos on getting everyone to pitch in. I’ve been thinking about getting that mop….guess I’ll definitely have to give it a try!
Kelly @ Texas Type A Mom says
I seriously need to try this mop! I usually hate mopping my floors because it’s such a pain hauling around a bucket and mop and trying to get everything cleaned and dried before moving on so no one breaks a leg, but this like a great alternative! #client
I like the tip of just storing your vacuum in the entryway – that way when unexpected company comes you can say, “Oh, you just caught me, I was just about to start the housework.” Or you line up a whole lot of “get well soon” cards on the mantle and pretend you’ve just been under the weather for a very long time. 🙂
Seriously, I find if I try to pick up every night before bed, it’s much easier to keep on top of the mess. I try to do about 20 minutes of housekeeping every day (make beds, make sure the dishes are all put away, tidy up, plus one more in-depth chore which rotates) and then on Fridays I do a more thorough approx. 90 minute session.
A funny story – Years ago my sister in law and her husband came home from church knowing that when they opened the door, they’d have to face the messy house and spend all afternoon cleaning it up. Dejected, my sister in law said to her husband as he was unlocking the door, “I just wish the cleaning fairies would come and do it all.” Then they walked into a perfectly clean and organised house. While they’d been at church, my brother in law’s mother had come over and cleaned the entire house. (She was a very sweet and wonderful woman so there was no passive-aggressive-insult meant; and she loved cleaning.) For the next few weeks it was impossible to get the kids to do any housework – “Oh, the cleaning fairies will do it.”
Katelyn Fagan says
Such funny stories Becca. Love it! And I prefer to clean up some everyday too. It’s just over the weekend that I get lax and so sometimes the house ends up like this, but it’s not normally that much of a disaster; although, there have been times it’s been worse than this too. And I wish my MIL would just show up and clean my home when I was at church too. What a great gift for them that day.
I have learned the hard way to clean from top to bottom – great tip. I am thinking this spray mop might be better for hardwood floors because it won’t leave them wet. I know you aren’t supposed to get lots of water on hardwood flooring. It also looks easy to use.
Lauren Tamm says
I love the videos Katelyn! I would love to learn how to do that. Did you use windows movie maker? I try to keep the house tidy everyday, and I agree enlisting a bit of help really goes a long way. I actually really need a good mop. I’ve been scrubbing my floors on my hands and knees. How archaic is that?!
Katelyn Fagan says
I have Adobe Premiere Elements 12, which I am still learning how to use. Keeping the house tidy is the way to go, but sometimes life gets busy and your house ends up like this. And this mop actually does a fantastic job! Better than Swiffer (which I had and hated, just the regular wet cloth ones) and better than our current regular mop.
Katie @ Clarks Condensed says
THese are such great tips. I really am not the best at keeping our house tidy at all times, so I”m always looking for more quick ways to clean up before people come over 🙂
Brenna @ Life After Laundry says
I’m a procrastinator, so just about every time I clean my house it has to be the 40 minute version. lol. I know from practice these are all great tips.
just a couple of things….first what kind of floor cleaner do you use…I have not found any that don’t streak?
Second …cleaning drip pans and make them new again…fill large pot with water and place all but one drip pan along with some powered dishwasher soap. Boil for a couple of hours and see if they are clean or what my step grandma told me is to bring to a boil, add the last drip pan, cover and go to bed..wash like normal dish and put stove back together in the am.
Katelyn Fagan says
I bought a big things of floor cleaning solution at Sam’s Club. I pour a little into the spray mop container with water, and then sprayed it and cleaned. It worked pretty well. I find that the less water you use, the less streaky a floor will get. My floor has ridges in it, so it does a better job at hiding streaks too.
Thanks for the tip on the stove drip pans. I will have to try that out (because the other ones I tried never worked perfectly). Thanks so much.