Whether you want to be prepared for a visit from a neighbor or you just need some peace of mind before you walk out of the door, you want your place looking presentable — fast. Here are 10 ways to eliminate mess, in under five minutes.
Snap A Pic
Before you dive in, take a quick photo of the space. “It’s so easy to get used to clutter that has been in one spot for a while,” points out Emma Chapman, the lifestyle blogger behind A Beautiful Mess. “Glancing at the photo and trying to spot anything that looks out of place helps me to notice little things that I may not have spotted before.” You can then quickly move those little things to a proper, or at least less noticeable, place.
In a pinch, toss out-of-place odds and ends into a laundry basket (like this woven one) or a bin that you can stow out of eye’s view for sorting later.
Repurpose Empty Spaces
An empty napkin holder can serve as a de facto mail sorter so bills don’t get lost in the shuffle. Corral rogue office supplies in a pretty mug or glass. Take the impromptu cleanup a step further by throwing a patterned tray underneath for a subtle organizational vibe.
Your mission: Eliminate little crumbs or dust bunnies that will stick to people’s socks. “It just makes your guests feel dirty,” says Kadi Dulude, owner of NYC cleaning service Wizard of Homes.
Tackle The Bathroom
Wipe any gobs of toothpaste from the sink, and rinse crusted soap from the dish. Make sure the TP roll is plump, and swish a little bleach in the toilet bowl. Forget scrubbing any mildew-y grout — just pull the shower curtain closed.
Rub Down Surfaces
Don’t worry if your cleaning supplies aren’t well stocked: You don’t need anything fancy to give your shelves or tables a once-over. “Go ahead and use water for everyday cleaning. Just wet a microfiber cloth,” says Dulude. (Remember: This won’t disinfect any surfaces.)
Fluff The Living Room
Flip stained couch cushions to the clean(er) side, fluff your pillows, and fold your throw blanket. Light a scented candle for instant coziness.
Skip The Underneath
Focus on tidying the stuff at eye level. Don’t bother cleaning under furniture or dusting ceiling fans — people won’t be looking there, Dulude says.
Eliminate Pet Hair
Lint rollers are a must-have tool when it comes to tackling pet hairs. Even more effective than the sticky barrel? Throw on some rubber dish gloves and run your hands over your chairs or futon, balling up hair as you go.
Attend To Allergies
We’re already sneezing and coughing a ton this time of year. Put visitors at ease by paying special attention to windowsills and radiators, which accumulate dust that can trigger serious sniffles, suggests Dulude.
- Taylor Swift Is TIME's 2023 Person of the Year
- Why Cell Phone Reception Is Getting Worse
- Why It’s OK to Say No to That Party You’re Dreading
- COP28 Is a Business Bonanza. Should It Be?
- In a New Movie, Beyoncé Finds Freedom
- Column: When India Was a Human Rights Leader
- The Top 100 Photos of 2023
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time