Sneak-Clean Your Home in Two Hours or Less

Guests just called to say they’re coming over? In-laws about to show up with no notice? You look around your place and you realize—the enemy is coming. And they must be impressed. What to do? Here are some helpful tips for making your home appear cleaner than it really is—and nobody has to know.

  • Clean the windows. A little vinegar and an old, soft rag should brighten those babies up in no time. Plus, windows let in natural light and are the eyes of your apartment, so to speak—if they’re shiny, the rest of your room will look cleaner, too.
  • More light, more! Now that you’ve cleaned those windows, feel free to open them; this lets fresh air into your apartment and more light in. Avoid harsher overhead lighting and opt for lower-standing lamps instead. This illuminates dirt less obviously and gives the place a warmer, cozier feeling. Candles are a quirky trick that achieves much of the same effect.
  • Good, clean smells. Light some scented candles. Crack open that bottle of Febreeze. For a mixture of good smells that permeate through the house slowly, pour boiling water over lemon or orange rinds, add nutmeg, cloves, or ginger, and let it sit out while you follow the rest of these tips.
  • Stack your stuff. Arranging books, remotes, and magazines in size order gives it the appearance of being tidly put together rather than what it really is—clutter in your apartment.
  • Swipe the bathroom. Take a wet paper towel and wipe down the counters, toilet seat, mirror, and tub. This removes outermost dust and grime without requiring you to deep-clean the place. Also, pick up any towels off the floor and close all your cabinets. Toss a couple of dry towels in there and you’re guest-ready.
  • Fung shui the sneaky way. Clean the areas that immediately hit the eye when you walk into the apartment—get the shoes out of the hall, vacuum the entryway and living room. If you require your guests to take off their shoes before walking around your place, the vacuuming does a double duty—it makes the floor look fresher and ensure that your guests’ socks won’t pick up a bunch of dust and lint, turning their whites into permanent grays.
  • Counters. Buy a yummy-smelling—or just fresh—cleaner to wipe down your tabletops and counters. This is where your guests are likely to lean on or put their things down on. A filthy counter makes it just that less appealing to relax on.
  • Birds like shiny things. In this case, the people coming over are the birds, and they’re likely to be just as easily distracted. Bring in a mirror or a tall vase and position in a place where it will catch a lot of light. This brightens up your room AND your mood.

Of course, calling a cleaning service is also an option. But if you haven’t got the time or money to spare, these bits of advice should help your place be as guest-ready as it’s going to be—all in under two hours!

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