How to Speed Clean Your Family's Mess for Unexpected Guests

By Nikki M

I’m a ruthless cleaner with the sparkliest house on the block... most days. Once in a blue moon I'll embrace the mess and let the dishes and toys pile up everywhere, while the kids run amok and I sit in my underwear eating snacks. Again, this is VERY RARE.

And as luck would have it, this is when guests decide to drop by unexpectedly. Maybe it's my karma for yelling at my husband when he's not giving 100% with his chores. Or maybe people have a secret desire to see me looking like a trainwreck... Either way, they’re dropping by!

Luckily (unfortunately),  this has happened so often, I’ve got the clean-up routine down pat. First things first: Get up and put some clothes on. Depending on how much time you have, you can still pull together some semblance of tidiness.

Only 10 MINUTES? Living and Bathrooms Only.


If you‘re strapped for time, focus on the living area – after all, this is where you’ll be entertaining your guests.

Grab a huge basket or bin, and throw in whatever’s laying around. Sweaters, toys, books, video games, and other miscellaneous things you have strewn about. Take your basket and stuff it in the nearest closet. 

Straighten things out a bit – fluff up pillows, stack up coffee table books nicely, and just make things look cozy.

Pro tip: Toss a book open onto the coffee table, or play a TED Talk about kids' creativity midway (this is a good one), and no one will know you were covered in crumbs a few minutes earlier.


Besides the living room, the bathroom is the one room you should never neglect. Make sure to give it extra attention.

Grab some cleaning wipes and wipe down the seat (underneath, too!). Spray toilet cleaner in the bowl, then give it a quick scrub with the toilet brush. Make sure there’s a fresh roll of toilet paper. 

Place a hand towel or two by the sink. You don’t want them wiping their hands on your bath towel, do you? Yeah, neither do they.

30 MINUTES to Spare? Add in the Entry, Kitchen and Dining Too.


You’ve got a bit more time; this is the first thing your guests will see when they walk into your home, so make it count!

Make sure they don’t trip over any shoes or school bags. Hide anything bulky and unsightly in the closet (next to the bin you just stuffed in there.)

You know that lovely scented candle you’ve been saving for years? This is the perfect time and place to light it. We love clean smelling Nest candles

Play some music, but don't forget to remove Kidz Bop or gangster rap from your queue. 


You know how friends are. You invite them to your cozy, uncluttered living room, yet somehow they’ll manage to migrate the conversation all the way to the kitchen. 

Clear and wipe down all surfaces. You can use an all-purpose cleaner for maximum effect – Mrs. Meyers Basil Multi-Surface Cleaner smells like you cleaned the house all day AND picked fresh herbs from the garden to garnish your lunch. Stuff dirty dishes and pots in the dishwasher. 

Don’t bother putting snacks back in the pantry, unless it's to replace the 7/11 snacks with the Whole Foods snacks. In fact, bring out all the fancy finger food you can find, and set out some small plates.

Take out the garbage! I don’t know about you, but nothing screams "I don't have my priorities straight” more than a day-old bag of trash just marinating in your kitchen.


Seriously? If you’ve got an hour to spare, your guests aren’t “unexpected.”

In addition to cleaning to the house, spend the extra time getting yourself ready... Your goal for the day – and maybe for life – is to look like a domestic goddess who wasn’t expecting company (even if you totally were.) 

Go on YouTube and learn the Transatlantic accent. Put on a fancy dress that's hard to sit around in because that's definitely not what you were doing all day. Spray on a lot of perfume to literally intoxicate your guest and make them want to leave quickly.

Chase down the kids, wipe their boogery faces, and change them into clean clothes. If you’ve got a baby, their diaper is most likely clean – they will wait until your friend arrives to soil it.

Put some fresh flowers in a vase. Re-arrange your vignettes.

Go back to the kitchen and make a pot of coffee. While you wait, plot how you can drop by your friend’s house unexpectedly.

When They Don’t Even Call in Advance and Drop by Truly Unexpected

Pretend it’s opposite day. Or act like there's an earthquake and start thrashing around violently, then point out the mess it made. Find new friends.

What are some of your speed cleaning tricks? Share some of your cool tips on the comments below!

Suggested Products

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Basil Cleaner

Maison Normande Wicker Basket

NEST Linen Classic Candle 

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Tags : motherhood   home   humor   

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