Having visitors over to your house can be pleasure, although many people enjoy keeping their house clean and tidy for when guests show up. If you receive short notice that guests are coming by, you may need to make your house presentable by cleaning it in a hurry. Don’t panic: figure out which areas of your house your guests are likely to spend time in, and clean there first. Don’t spend time deep-cleaning areas, but focus on finishing a quick, surface-level cleaning before the doorbell rings.

Part 1
Part 1 of 3:

Developing a Cleaning Strategy

  1. Before you start any actual cleaning, remove all trash from rooms your guests will spend time in. Throw away any old magazines, trash from food, and work- or school-related papers. These messy items are the first things your guests will notice, so they should be the first that you clean up.
    • If you have time before guests arrive, do a second walkthrough with a laundry hamper. This time, pick up out-of-place items from every room, place them in the hamper. Once you’ve walked through the house and placed items in the hamper, return the items to the room they belong in.
    • For example, grab the cereal bowls from the living-room couch, and place them in the dishwasher.[1]
  2. Whether you’re dusting a bookcase or cleaning kitchen counters, always start cleaning on the upper surfaces, and work your way down to the lower surfaces and the floor. This will push dust from higher surfaces down onto lower surfaces, ensuring that you fully clean the appliance or room.[2] If you clean from the bottom up, you risk leaving dirt or other residue on the higher-level surfaces.
    • This step applies on both large- and small-scale cleaning. If you clean the top floor of your house first, you’ll bring dirt from upstairs rooms down the bottom floor. Then, when you finish dusting and vacuuming the bottom floor, you’ll have removed all of the dust and dirt. .
  3. Unexpected guests are likely to notice smudged windows and dirty tabletops long before they spot an un-swept pantry.[3] Large, highly visible surfaces—especially windows, tabletops, and counters—show fingerprints easily and should be cleaned. Clean large visible surfaces using Windex or another all-purpose cleaner. You may already have these products around the house, but if not, they can be purchased at a local convenience store or grocery store.
    • When cleaning large surfaces, like windows, it can help to mentally break the surface down into a grid. This will help you clean the window fully: start in the top-left, then top-right; move to cleaning the middle-left, and so on.[4]
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Part 2
Part 2 of 3:

Cleaning High-Traffic Areas

  1. Since your unexpected guests are bound to enter by the front door, and the entryway will be the first part of your house that they see, it’s important to concentrate on this area.[5] If there are shoes or coats strewn about, clean those up and put things in their proper place.
    • Also clean the entryway floor: if it’s carpeted, vacuum the area. If the entryway is tile or linoleum, a quick mopping would help.
  2. If your guests are going to eat or help prepare food while they’re at your house, you should straighten and wipe down kitchen appliances, the stovetop, counter surfaces, and the tops of tables. Spray an all-surface cleaner, such as Windex or a store brand, over kitchen surfaces and wipe them clean with a rag.
    • If you’re lacking cleaning supplies, slip an old sock over your hand and use this as an impromptu duster.[6]
  3. It’s almost certain that your guests will need to use the bathroom, if they’re staying for any length of time. Depending on the cleanliness of the bathroom sink and toilet, you may need to get out your Comet and toilet cleaner and quickly scrub these areas.[7]
    • Make the bathroom clean and presentable: set out fresh towels, straighten the bath mats, and tidy up any stray toothbrushes, razors, or other personal grooming items.
  4. If there are sections of your house that it’s unlikely your guests will see, or rooms they’re unlikely to enter—for example, a second-floor home office, or your bedroom—you can skip cleaning these altogether. There’s no need to spend your already short amount of time cleaning areas that won’t be seen.[8]
    • If you have large amounts of clutter that you need to clean quickly, put the messy items in a room that your guests are unlikely to visit, and shut the door.
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Part 3
Part 3 of 3:

Maximizing Your Cleaning Time

  1. Your guests aren’t likely to inspect the cleanliness of your house, but they will notice if things are messy or out of order. For example, since it takes less time to throw out (or hide) a stack of old magazines than it does to scrub out the kitchen sink, take care of straightening messy areas before you break out the cleaning supplies.[9]
    • Put away strewn or messy clothing, close the shower curtain, make sure toilet paper is available, make your bed, and clean books or magazines off of chairs and sofas.
  2. Vacuuming carpets and rugs is a relatively quick process that makes a great deal of difference in the overall clean appearance of your house.[10] If you’re pressed for time, only vacuum areas where you guests will spend time: start with the entryway, living room, and hallways. Vacuum large open areas first; your guests are unlikely to notice specks of dirt in a dark living-room corner.
    • Before you begin vacuuming, check your vacuum’s bag or dust-receptacle. Vacuuming with an already-full bag will clean very little dirt from your carpets.
  3. Most cleaning supplies are designed to be sprayed or applied to surface, and then left to sit for 10–15 minutes before being wiped off or scrubbed away. Giving these products time to sit will increase their effectiveness and make your job (scrubbing off dirt and stains) much easier. If you’re using cleaning products in multiple rooms—for example, both the kitchen and bathroom—spray or apply the products in both rooms before you start cleaning.[11]
    • While you’re waiting for cleaning products to set, focus on other straightening you can do. For example, if you’ve sprayed toilet cleaner in the toilet, use the next 10 minutes to make your bed and put out new towels.
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Expert Q&A

  • Question
    What is the fastest way to clean for an unexpected guest?
    Raymond Chiu
    Raymond Chiu
    House Cleaning Professional
    Raymond Chiu is the Director of Operations for MaidSailors.com, a residential and commercial cleaning service based in New York City that provides home and office cleaning services at affordable prices. He has a Bachelors in Business Administration and Management from Baruch College.
    Raymond Chiu
    House Cleaning Professional
    Expert Answer
    Prioritize the areas that are used and seen by the guest first. Walk around these areas and throw away garbage and clutter. Use a duster and cleaning spray to wipe down countertops and other surfaces. Clean any dirty dishes in the kitchen and focus on the toilet, sink, and floors in the bathroom. Vacuum and Swiffer the floors and finish by closing off the rooms your guests won't use.
  • Question
    How can I have a good attitude when guests come unexpectedly?
    Mia Colangelo
    Mia Colangelo
    Community Answer
    Know that it probably wasn't their fault that they had such short notice, and keep a smile on your face.

About This Article

Raymond Chiu
Co-authored by:
House Cleaning Professional
This article was co-authored by Raymond Chiu. Raymond Chiu is the Director of Operations for MaidSailors.com, a residential and commercial cleaning service based in New York City that provides home and office cleaning services at affordable prices. He has a Bachelors in Business Administration and Management from Baruch College. This article has been viewed 24,912 times.
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Co-authors: 6
Updated: January 1, 2024
Views: 24,912