It’s inevitable. Your home is a complete and total disaster…and the phone rings with someone on the other end who would like to stop by for a visit. Not only that, they will be at your house in no time at all, like an hour or less. With no time and, let’s be honest, no desire to really clean your beyond messy house, you must resort to drastic measures.
This is a job that requires not cleaning expertise, but creativity. At this point, true cleaning will do you no good. In this scenario, you simply need to pretend that you live in a clean, tidy, organized home.
So, the roughly thirty minute time frame that you have been allotted to prepare you and your home for company will be best spent devising an illusion. Only you know the truth behind your home’s dangerously disorganized state, that’s not what the rest of the world will see. Remember the importance of perception.
Now this guide should be reserved for those truly dire moments when there is no possible way that your devastatingly dirty home can be transformed in time for company. In between, it’s probably a good idea to just actually clean your home, as fake cleaning like this on a regular basis could lead to a total downward spiral.
Anyway, for those times when your home is rebounding from hosting a party or the kids are on vacation, or you just got lazy and didn’t clean, and unexpected guests are arriving momentarily, here’s how to deal.
7 Hide Whatever You Can
Everything lying around on tables, the floor, and counters is cluttering your house increasing its unclean look. You will have to pick everything up, if you want to create any semblance of an organized dwelling. But, don’t forget, we are fake-cleaning right now. Do not, I repeat, do NOT put any of this stuff back where it actually goes. To do that would take entirely too much time, energy, and be considered real cleaning. This is not our goal.
While things need to be picked up, they can be placed anywhere. Load up the closets. As long as the door still closes, you are good to go. Cabinets work too. Same rules apply. It doesn’t matter where the item came from or truly belongs, as long as it has a good hiding spot; it’s fine. Feel free to pile things underneath your furniture as well. If there is covered space between the floor and bottom of your chosen piece of furniture, it’s fair game.
You should note, if done right, this method will create way more chaos than before, but it will appear cleaner. Let me explain. Most of the items that are hidden should be in other locations within your home, but there isn’t time to return them to their appropriate spot in another room. Clutter that lives in the room can generally be disguised in some way, no hiding required.
6 Disguise Dirty Items
Most of the untidiness created by items that belong within a room is dirty items in need of washing. If this is the case, washing all of these items is definitely out of the question and unnecessary. You just need to give them the image of cleanliness.
- Dirty Dishes – These have a way of piling up in the sink and on the counter, mimicking the look of a cluttered kitchen, right? All you need to do is reduce the amount of dishes in the sink to the point where you can fill the sink with soapy water. It now looks like you have a sink full of dishes on purpose. Those dishes are clearly soaking so you can wash them in a timely fashion. All other dishes may be hidden in various locations throughout your kitchen. The dishwasher, oven, drawer below the oven, and cabinets are all viable options.
- Papers Everywhere – Magazines, mail, paper work lying around can all be stacked, in a neat pile, on the coffee table or end table, instantly organized. Now it looks like all those papers are there on purpose. No one needs to know half of it is unsorted junk mail.
- Dirty furniture – Any spills, stains, or pet fur, all of it can be taken care of in seconds. Strategically place throws over all of your furniture. Grab some pillows to add to the comfy feel…or cover up that spot of jelly from lunch. Everything now looks clean without any washing or vacuuming.
- Dirty laundry – Laundry in need of washing can be thrown in the washer/dryer to get it out of the way. Put any extra in baskets. Now, anyone would assume, you just haven’t done your folding yet. Maybe even sneak a couple dryer sheets, or paper towels/tissues misted with air or body spray, into the basket to fuel this deception a little.
- Dirty Shower – Use it for storing the other clutter from around the bathroom, close the door or curtain. Now, just hope no one is nosy.
5 Limit Access
This is a key time saver. Most rooms in your home are, likely, unnecessary for entertaining a guest. If so, don’t allow people in those rooms. You don’t have to be obvious about it. Simply close the door. Most guests will respect your privacy and stay out. Now you can completely ignore all rooms with closed doors. Added bonus, rooms with closed doors now work for storing stuff lying around the rest of the house.
Another benefit, if one of your guests tries to poke around these closed off rooms, you will know. All of that stuff you loaded in those rooms is sure to create an avalanche if the door is opened. That will teach your busy body visitor to snoop around someone else’s home!
4 Use the Garage
If you are lucky enough to have a garage, basement, or some other additional area used predominantly for storage, use it. When your home is cluttered to the point that you don’t know how all this stuff fits in it normally, bag it up and ship it out. The perfect alternative to just throwing stuff away, which is way too final…you do not have time to make those kinds of decisions right now.
You can fill trash bags with all items that are in the way. Then move the bags out to your designated storage area. Later on, when you’re guests have left, these bags can be returned to the main part of the house. Then it’s your call whether you sort all the items inside and put them back where they belong. Or wait until you need something in there, rummage through and leave the remainder in the bag indefinitely.
3 Focus on Smell
You know those Febreze commercials where they send blindfolded people into complete filth, sprayed with Febreze, and they are convinced they are in a glorious, fresh environment. Once the blindfolds are removed, and the truth revealed, they are completely shocked by what they see. Take note: scent is powerful. Use this to your advantage.
Liberally place pleasantly scented items throughout your home. Whatever you prefer will do the trick: candles, plug-ins, incense, sprays; it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it smells good.
Turn the smell tide in your favor
This is particularly useful for any item, not really, but pretending to be clean. Spritz your basket of fake clean laundry with some fresh smelling fragrance. Let the soaking, soapy dishes help the aroma in the kitchen, while adding a few additional scent enhancers of your choice.
While it’s probably best to use smells that complement each other, don’t sweat it if they don’t. Ideally, the smells will nicely mask the unappealing odors that may be lingering in your home. At worst, the smell of your air fresheners will be so overpowering that visitors will be too concerned with the attack on their noses to notice the state of your home. This would still count, at least somewhat, towards what you were trying to accomplish.
2 Make Excuses
In all honesty, accomplishing much in thirty minutes is not too feasible if your house is disastrous. So, if all else fails, make up some good excuses for the condition of your home. The options are endless. Just keep it fairly believable. Children, pets, work, and illness can all provide a variety of excuses. If you have entertained recently, this could work to point out also. For example:
“Having all of the kids home for summer is great, but they leave such a mess. I was already behind, after the cookout last weekend, and then school ended this week!”
You'll think of something
Bear in mind your audience and your true living conditions. For instance, if your house is always kind of messy, and this person visits you at home on a regular basis, your excuse may not hold much weight. You’re probably better off silently praying that they don’t uncover your “cleaning” secrets.
On the other hand, if this person rarely visits and you have managed to get your home to look relatively straight, they will leave with the impression that you typically keep an immaculate house. Obviously, if you are making excuses for this reasonably clean-looking house, you must be a clean freak.
1 Designated Messy Room
Choose a room in your house and designate it as the room where you put all the clutter from the other rooms. This way you only have one room you can't show your friends and guests. Maintain the illusion of looking super neat with the secret of the messy room hidden behind a closed door that no one is allowed to open.
You can make up excuses why people aren't allowed in there as well. You can say it's your home office and you've got an important work project on the desk that you can't let anyone see, that your work is really strict about proprietary secrets and you don't want to get fired.
Anything that sounds important is likely to be accepted as truth. So just make sure that you don't overdo your little white lie, but that your guests respect your privacy. Just think about the benefits a designated messy room can afford you, and get your house clean in 30 minutes flat.