Sarah Althouse: How to Speed Clean for Last Minute Guests

Guest Post By Sarah Althouse | Pretty Simple Ideas

Photo Credit: Rebecca Wilcher

We’ve all been there. You’re just settling down with your favorite book or turning into that Netflix series everyone has been talking about when you get a text, “Hey! I’m in the neighborhood. Can I stop by?”

Uh-oh. You look around your house at the unfolded pile of laundry on the couch, dirty dishes in the sink, and countertops full of last week’s mail. But don’t worry. With these simple tips you’ll have your place ready for last-minute guests in no time.

1.) Keep Countertops Clear

What? You’re thinking. This was supposed to help me clean up at the last minute.

I get it. But hear me out. Since you’re reading this article NOW it means you can prepare for unexpected guests well before they even think of popping on by.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Wilcher


By keeping your countertops clear (notice I didn’t necessary say always clean) you can make cleaning up so much quicker later. Yes, this means store things like the toaster and coffee pot away and out of sight.

It’s really more simple than it sounds. As soon as you are finished with an item just put it away. It only takes two seconds and saves loads of time later on when you have to clean.

That way, if someone stop in last minute all you have to do is spray down the counters with a cleaner and your kitchen is ready for those guests.

If you have time before hand you probably want to declutter your home of unnecessary items anyway.

2.) Create Designated Spots for Items in your House

Oh no. Another task you have to think about ahead of time? Yes, but again, this is a step that takes some time up front but will save you so much time later on.

Create a spot for your mail that needs to be sorted so it doesn’t pile up on the kitchen table. Create a spot for shoes. Create a spot for cat toys. Create a spot for baby spit cloths. Whatever it is…create designated spots or containers in your home for items to keep your counters clear. You might find you no longer need a junk drawer either.

Okay, so you didn’t do either of these things ahead of time but guests are still coming. What can you do?

3.) Set a Timer

This is my absolutely favorite cleaning hack, especially when I am feeling overwhelmed. When you feel like the house is in chaos and you don’t even know WHERE to start, set a timer for 15 minutes.

In that 15 minutes do as much as you can.

  • put whatever dishes you can in the dishwasher
  • throw out the trash
  • clean the inside of the toilet
  • place your dirty clothes strewn about your bedroom floor in the hamper
  • refold the blankets in the living room
  • fluff the pillows or
  • vacuum up the smashed cookie in the corner of the kitchen.

As soon as your eye sees something to do – do it!

You will be surprised at how much you can get in 15 minutes. And it’ll also give you a good idea of what to focus on next in the extra few minutes you have before your guest arrives.

Next time you’re overwhelmed try it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much you can get done in so little time when you’re laser focused.

4.) Grab a laundry basket and throw all miscellaneous things around the house in it and store out of sight.

That way you can do a quick swipe of the counters or run the vacuum without stuff in your way. Just make sure to sort the laundry basket after the guests leave.

Here are some more tips on preventing clutter from sneaking back in, too.

5.) Keep cleaners in one easy to grab container.

Whether you need to wipe down the kitchen counters, bathroom vanity, or dust the fireplace, keep items to clean these places in one handy spot. That way you are not running around the house trying to find them. I like to keep a magic eraser, multi-purpose cleaner, and glass cleaner all in one container under my kitchen sink to grab at the last minute.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Wilcher

Also, cleaning mirrors and windows makes your house seem like you spent all weekend deep cleaning your home instead of rushing around the last minute.

This is a great time to stock up on GO by greenshield organic™ Multi-Surface Cleaner, Multi-Surface Wipes or Glass Cleaner. (Find a retailer near you, here.)

6.) Lastly, Make Your Home More Inviting

After you have your house reasonably picked up quickly change out the bathroom towels, bring out your pretty bathroom soaps, open the windows, or light a candle. Your last-minute guests will be so impressed your house is *always* this cozy and inviting.

Next time someone wants to stop by last minute – don’t panic! Try these tips and you’ll be ready. And even if you’re not, they came to see you and not your house anyway.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Wilcher

Sarah Althouse is the founder and author of lifestyle blog Pretty Simple Ideas, sharing the latest green trends, inspiring home care and creative do-it-yourself projects. Join Sarah on Instagram as she “gets back to the basics in life, love & the pursuit of happiness” + check out her recent post on 5 Ways To Prevent Clutter From Sneaking Back In.   |   Instagram: @sarahalthouse

Photography Credited to Rebekah Wilcher   |    Instagram: @rebeccawilcher