How to Fake Your Way to a Clean Space Before Guests Arrive

clean living room coffee table with candle

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Maybe you've opted to host a super last minute holiday gift exchange or have been slammed with a major work project in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. You now need to figure out how to make your home look sparkling in just a few hours and are feeling a bit panicky. But don't sweat it too much—it turns out that there are several simple ways to give your house a quick facelift in a short span of time. Below, cleaning experts weigh in with their top tips on how to fake a clean home before guests arrive.

Remove Clutter

First things first, you'll want to say goodbye to any clutter that is sitting out. "Immediately remove anything that does not have its perfect place," instructs Danielle Moore of A Little Moore Clean. "Shoes, toys, clothes, and misc items will go into a bag." Taking this type of action will have a major impact, Moore states. "Clutter is a telling sign of your internal state. Removing that clutter will immediately make your space feel open, cleaner, it appease the eye, looks put together and gives the impression your home is in order."

You can even take things a step further and put any items that you know you're ready to part with in a large trash bag to bring to a nearby donation center at a later date. "Put it in your car, out of sight from guests," suggests Logan Alderman of Orderly SC. "Avoid shoving items into cabinets and drawers as this tends to cause a bigger problem in the long run.”

cluttered bathroom counter

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Don't Feel the Need to Tackle Every Room

When you're prepping your house for guests in a hurry, you won't want to—or need to—take on a full blown cleanout of each and every room in your home. "Your house guests will likely gather in a few rooms in your home—not all of them," states Kathy Cohoon of Two Maids & A Mop. "That means you should focus your cleaning efforts on where they will be, like the dining room, the kitchen and the bathrooms, and not waste time worrying about your own bedroom or the laundry room if your guests won’t ever be in them."

Move Onto the Bathroom

If you're going to be having guests over, you'll need to make sure that the bathroom they will be using looks presentable. "Grab the Windex, multipurpose spray and a Lysol wipe," Moore offers. "Hit the mirror, hit the sink, hit the toilet. Lysol the light switches, door handles, fixtures on the sink and flusher." Whatever you do, don't miss wiping down the mirror, Moore reiterates. "It's a quick fix, and when the guests uses the bathroom the mirror being clean is the first telling sign of the condition of the bathroom," she says. Don't forget about finishing touches that will make your guest's experience washing up more comfortable, says Lindsay Droz, who co-founded L’Avant Collective alongside Kristi Lord. "Place a clean guest towel and either the fresh linen or winter fir hand soap on the counter for a luxurious hand washing experience," Droz suggests.

clean bathroom

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Tackle the Kitchen

Now isn't the time to begin a major organizing project; you'll just want to cover the basics. "Ensure the counter tops are clear and neat—even if you have to hide some things in cabinets until you can get back to it," Moore states. "Sweep the floor and quick mop if you have an extra moment."

Cohoon reiterates that clearing off the kitchen countertops will have a major impact. "Making sure your countertops and tables are clear will make the entire room feel bigger and brighter," she notes. "Your guests will have a spot to put their drink down, and, since you’ve done the work beforehand, clean up should be even quicker."

And by all means, make sure that your dirty dishes are out of sight. "Dirty dishes—whether in the sink or around the house—create both a physically unappealing atmosphere as well as a health risk," Cohoon comments. "Making sure there are no dirty dishes hanging around automatically makes your home feel cleaner." You can always toss them in the dishwasher and run it later!

Make Some Last Minute "Design Changes"

Maybe you're almost done tidying the living room but have noticed an unfortunate stain on the wall. Cohoon weighs in with a few tips. "The oldest trick in the book is to cover up any lingering messes with something else," she says. "Kids took a crayon to the wall? Cover it with a decorative sign. Stain on the counter? Cover it with a coaster. There are endless ways to cover a mess just long enough to make your guests think your home is clean!"

Be Cognizant of Scent

If you often find yourself cleaning right at the last minute and are worried about greeting your guests with the smell of cleaning supplies, there's a solution. "There is nothing worse than cleaning the house right before your guests come over because of the harsh chemical smell lingering in the air," Lord says. She recommends the company's biodegradable cleaning wipes. "These...are unscented and powerful enough to wipe away the dirtiest of sinks, floors, counters, and toilets without the chemical scent known to come from so many traditional cleaners."

candles lit on mantel

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There are other simple ways to use fragrance to your advantage. "A fresh scent can make your home feel warm and inviting," Cohoon comments. "A pleasant aroma in the home can definitely create the effect of a clean space, and you can attain this by lighting a candle, using a scent spray or freshly baking a meal or dessert before guests arrive."