How to Fake a Clean House

Prepare for Last-Minutes Guests

Modern living room


hikesterson / Getty Images

An old friend calls and says she's in the neighborhood and wants to drop by in 15 minutes. You look around and wonder how to get this mess clean in a matter of minutes. The following eight steps will help you fake a clean house. Start at the beginning and do as much as you have time for until your guests arrive.

What You Need

  • Air freshener
  • Large basket or sack
  • Brush, body splash/deodorant, clean clothes
  • Handheld vacuum or broom
  • Cleaning wipes or all-purpose spray and cleaning cloths
  • Dishwasher or dishwashing supplies

Odor Control

Spray your favorite air freshener to remove any unpleasant odors. Pay special attention to the trash areas. Turn up the air conditioner, a fan, or open the windows to get stale air moving. Throw something sweet and tasty in the oven. Some women I know keep frozen cookie dough on hand for this very occasion. Not only will the house smell wonderful, but you'll have a tasty treat to serve your guests.

Clutter Control

Nothing makes a house look messier than clutter. Grab a laundry basket or a sack and begin gathering up items. Don't worry about putting them away. Just stow the basket or the sack out of sight until after the guests leave.

Freshen Yourself

In your clean bathroom mirror, examine yourself. The truth is that your guests will spend more time looking at you than at your house. If necessary, change clothes, run a brush through your hair, put on some deodorant and/or spray body splash.

Living Room

The place where you'll be sitting and visiting the most, needs the most attention. Since you've already removed the clutter, and made it smell nice, now all you have to focus on is tidying surfaces. Work quickly from left to right tidying each surface and removing any extra clutter. Quickly vacuum the main walkway of the floor.


Grab disinfecting wipes or a cleaning cloth and all-purpose spray. Wipe down all the surfaces quickly. Remove any clutter. Change the trash. Quickly wipe down the mirror. Make sure there is hand soap, a hand towel, and toilet paper accessible.


The first thing that your guests will see is your entryway. Remove any clutter. Tidy up with a broom or handheld vacuum.


If you have a few spare minutes, load those dirty dishes in the dishwasher, or rinse and stack them neatly in the sink. Take a cleaning wipe and wipe down the kitchen surfaces.

Other Areas

If you've finished all this and your guests still haven't arrived, keep doing small chores until they arrive, focusing only on rooms they will see. Some ideas might include, vacuuming floors, changing the kitchen trash, dusting ceiling fans, and straightening books and magazines.


  1. If guests are going to spend more time in another area of your home, substitute it for the living area, and focus your time there.
  2. Disposable cleaning wipes make a good quick helper, but you can also use an all-purpose spray and a cleaning cloth.
  3. Once you've finsished your quick cleaning, and your guests arrive, don't apologize for the state of your home. Guests come to see the host/hostess, not the house. Unexpected company, especially, will understand if everything isn't perfect.
  4. Enlist the help of children and/or spouse to make the quick cleanup go even faster. One silly thing my family does is to have "practice" sessions when we aren't expecting anyone, to see if we can beat our best times.