8 Tips for Speed-Cleaning a Room

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You just got home from work, picking the kids up from school, and stopping for groceries, when you receive the dreaded call. You have relatives popping in for an unannounced visit—tonight!

It’s Friday, and you haven’t touched a mop or dust rag since the weekend. Looking around your home, it seems like you’ll never get the place whipped into shape and still have time to make dinner. So what do you do?

You speed clean! Remember the tips below, and the next time something like this happens to you, you’ll be prepared.

  1. Enlist help. The kids. The husband. The Roomba. It’s crunch time, so make sure everyone is pulling their weight.
  2. Gather your supplies. You need a sturdy utility apron for just such occasions as this. If you don’t have one of those, a compartmentalized bucket will do. Put every cleaning product and tool you’ll need in the apron or bucket, apart from larger tools like mops, brooms, or the vacuum.
  3. Make each move count. As you’re cleaning, carry your supplies around with you, and always put each spray bottle and tool back in the same spot. You can’t waste time making trips back and forth to find the thing you need, or rummaging around in your toolkit.
  4. Don’t bother with the rooms your guests won’t go into. In fact, since this is an emergency situation, we give you permission to temporarily store any clutter in the laundry room.
  5. If it’s not dirty, don’t clean it. Don’t fuss with upper baseboards, vertical surfaces, or anything else that does not look dusty or grimy.
  6. Make one circuit around the room. Don’t skip over things. This is an extension of “Make each move count.” Instead of zigzagging from one end of the room to the other and back, start at one end of the room and work your way around.
  7. Clean from top to bottom. As you clean, dust and dirt get knocked off of surfaces higher up, and onto surfaces lower down. So start high, and gradually work your way down. Do the floors last.
  8. Focus on what you’re doing. If you’re thinking about that TV show you want to catch up on, or what your boss is going to say about x project, or where you’d like to go for vacation, you’re going to miss things and have to waste time coming back to them. Give your attention to the task at hand, and things will go much quicker.
  9. Order a pizza. Your relatives can’t really expect you to whip up a home cooked meal on such short notice, can they? Order a pizza with their favorite toppings. While you’re waiting for the delivery guy to arrive, take a nice hot shower. You deserve it!