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My 15-Minute Speed Cleaning I Do Before Guests Arrive

May 23, 2024

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There’s something so satisfying about a rapid fire clean-up round. If someone is coming over in less than 20 minutes, I’ve got a formula for speed cleaning that helps me feel like my space is welcoming, yet I’m not going to be hustling at the last minute. (Generally, I’m only focusing on the first floor including the entry, living room, dining room, and kitchen since that’s where most of our guests stay).

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The very first thing I’m going to do is to light a candle or turn on my Pura diffusers. Lighting a candle just adds a little something special. Turn on all the lamps, turn off the big overhead lights and turn on some music. I start with these so whenever guests arrive, even if it may not be completely clean, it will be calm and welcoming. It’s all about delighting their senses with soothing light, soothing smells, soothing music. That should only take about 3 minutes.

Chris Loves Julia | Kitchen nook with glass cupboards.

Marble Fruit Bowl | Lamp | Faux Eucalyptus (similar) | Handles | Knobs | Pendant Light Fixture

Next I head to the kitchen. If there are dirty dishes on the counter, I’m going to stack them in the sink. We’re not loading the dishwasher right now there are only 15 minutes! IF a dishwasher is empty, I can usually load it quick (is there anything better than an empty dishwasher?!) But if it’s not, you don’t have time. Wipe down the counters and that’s it for this space in 4 minutes.

Grab a basket and pick up the shoes lying around (just me?) and put it under the entry bench as if it’s intentional. I throw my mail in a tray on my desk. If you have any boxes or packages lying around (again, just me?) then put them in a corner out of sight. That’s the entry done in 3 minutes.

Then I run to the powder bathroom and make sure it’s clean. I’m going to put a fresh towel on the towel ring. Then close the lid of the toilet — I don’t like the lid of the toilet up. That should only take a minute.

Chris Loves Julia | Living room viewing into the dining room

Couch | Leather Accent Chair | CLJ x Loloi Bradley Rug | Floor Lamp | Lamp (vintage) | Dining Table | Dining Chairs (vintage) (similar) | Gallery Frames | CLJ x Shades of Light Edie Two-Tier Chandelier | Dining Room Wall Sconce (similar)

If I still have time, I run to the living room and fluff the pillows on my couch and put magazines away. I have another basket handy to throw any little toys in, and I put it on the back stairs so that I or one of the girls can grab it and take it upstairs on our next trip. But at least it’s contained! If I’m feeling good on time, I’m going to do a quick vacuum but it doesn’t always happen since we’ve got 4 minutes here.

Then the last minute before people come, I get a big wooden board out and put little hors d’oeuvre on it. Always have a little bite to eat as soon as everyone gets there to buy yourself some more time if you need it.

And that’s my normal routine — I don’t stress it too much if something doesn’t get done! Perhaps my biggest tip is: I guarantee that when you have people over, they’re not bothered by your home’s natural state. I know when I go to someone’s house, I am not looking at things on the floor. I am matching the energy of my host! So more than anything, I try to make someone feel welcome and relaxed by being welcoming and relaxed.

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What do you think?

  1. Marilyn Kennedy says:

    I learned long ago that closing a toilet lid is good Feng Shui so your instinct about that is right on

  2. Angela Sewell says:

    My family is trained to put the lid down! If it wasn’t supposed to be down, why would toilet seats come with one?!

  3. Lacey says:

    Love this. So helpful and practical.

  4. Elisabeth says:

    I love how you mentioned that people match the energy of the host, so it’s more important to be relaxed and welcoming than it is for the house to look perfect! That’s a good lesson for me as I am a perfectionist and always bustling around. I do love a candle and some ambience lighting, always sets the mood!

  5. Lee Ann says:

    Love this! Thanks. One change we’ve made since the pandemic … we no longer use fabric towels in our powder room because no one wants to use a damp towel that someone else has used. We bought a pretty guest towel container, purchased a few pretty fabric guest towels (those fun ones with sayings), and found a basket for the floor that used towels could be thrown in. Each guest can use a fresh towel. After the visit, we just launder the towels and put them back in the powder room.

  6. Nancy says:

    I love this Julia! It’s about making guests feel welcome! Our houses aren’t always perfectly clean. It’s the thoughtful touches that mean something💛

  7. Patricia says:

    We show our senior living condo frequently to people interested in moving into our community. I make sure the living room is picked up, fluffed and papers stowed away, the last meal in the kitchen is tidied up and the bed made. One place I need to share that most hosts don’t are the closets. People want to know about closet space. Luckily, we’re generally tidy people. But everything needs to be hung up.

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