If you came to our house unannounced you would be greeted by a chicken on the porch, a bag of garbage by the door, and a tribe of half-naked cherubs turning cartwheels, hurdling piles of unfolded laundry. Just a heads-up, I may have to shoot you at this point because you would have seen too much. No offense. Give me an hour, or three, or preferably a day, or three. This way I can make the appropriate accommodations for your upcoming arrival, and then, come right in, you nice person, you! Are you a coffee or tea person? Stay for dinner? Take a sauna? Move in much?
The term “Spiffing-up” should tell you something about this post. This is not how to deep clean your whole house in a morning’s time. Spiffing is a bit like spoofing for the purpose of this post. It is an inside joke with your cupboards and closets. They are all laughing at the fact that the house looks clean while you just chucked phone chargers and batteries into the spice cabinet.
In order to carry out this all-around aesthetically pleasing clean in three hours or less, you are going to need a somewhat impromptu visit from a special someone. That’s the only part of this process you can’t control. You are going to need a special somebody that may just think your family is full of nut jobs if they were to see your house in its current state. For us, that is usually any person that does not know us very well but happens to have two working eyes. (We used to have an almost blind priest over for dinner. He didn’t work out for this purpose.)
Preferably this person should also have a good reason to peruse your entire house. If you suspect they will only come in through the front door and visit at the dining room table, you will inevitably only spiff-up said places and not get the whole house clean which is our goal here. Once you are aware of a very near visit from that special someone, you will embark upon a cleaning frenzy that you never thought you were capable of undertaking.
If you have children, like myself, you are going to need to pretend you do not have children. Tell the kids you love them and make sure they aren’t dying of immediate hunger. Tell them mommy is turning into a witch on a broom. You can only hope and pray your children won’t be in a particularly crafty mood or want to stick stickers all over the wall to help decorate. I pray they don’t have any major life crises, like coming to the realization that we are all going to die and that you are older than them so you will probably die first. These sorts of crises develop around age five and come on rather suddenly. Try to avoid talking about the dearly departed, Michael Jackson.
Older children need to know to never question your cleaning tactics. That now you are a totalitarian dictator and they are merely your subservient pawns. If you ask them to pick up that large piece of floating cardboard outside, they simply perform task. Tip: Watch out for a spell they can cast on you that makes you think they are way too weak to carry cardboard and are simply swamped with all the tasks of showering and brushing teeth. To break this spell, do not let them shower until they perform task A, B, C. The sky is the limit once showering is on the line. If you tell them they need to scoop off that large chicken poop on the porch that your guest may slip on, tell them they are simply a cog in the machine. You can tell them this also isn’t a difficult task and suggest holding off on that shower until afterwards <wink>. They will tell you those things don’t matter and you can tell them their opinions don’t matter. They won’t fear you turning them into frogs, but behind the iron curtain there are no media devices.
Six Magic Fast House Cleaning Hacks:
1. Pay attention to your entrance.
This area gets so clogged-up in our house and gives our guests their first impressions of living with nine barbarians, well eight, I for one am a lady. We do so many mess-making things in this area. We put our garbage here to be taken out, chuck off our “muddy” barn boots, store tools for current projects, as well as a moving station for things going out to the car and donation items. Sprucing up this space comes absolutely first. And shoes… SHOES!
Clear all tables, counter tops, display shelves. Wipe them down. Then place just a few pretty things on them. Lay out your favorite table cloth and fill a pretty bowl with some fruit or something natural from your yard. Put everything else out of view. If you’re moving fast and have the time, put things where they should go. If you’re running slow, tuck them wherever to be properly stored later. Or just never mind.
3. Pick up.
Pick up everything that isn’t furniture. In my house, that would be toys, clothes, shoes, toys, clothes, shoes, repeat. Sweep or vacuum all floors, and then mop only if needed. Shake out rugs.
I know you’re thinking I should get these little kids picking up their toys but this is a mission. I just go. It’s a storm that is coming into each room and children need to move. I am down to one hour, people. The kids are practically starving to death after two hours of not eating, and don’t let the baby catch a glimpse of you! See what happened; holding baby and cleaning with one arm now. All you can do then is sling the baby, as in, put the baby in a ring sling.
Straighten tablecloths, pillows, throw blankets, bed skirts, bed spreads, towels, rugs, books, and visible dishware. Clean, crisp lines make things look instantly good.
Scrub only things that will be seen or used. Toilet, sinks, oven top.
Freshen things up with something great smelling. I love cleaning with Mrs. Meyers Lemon Verbena multi-cleaner. Spark up a lovely aromatic candle. Or better yet if you made good time, bake something delicious and sweet, like banana bread or apple crisp, for your lucky guest. And yes, kids too.
Awe. That wasn’t too hard. Your house is looking so bright and clean. Time for you to spiff up yourself! Get out of those rags! Then proceed to rescue your children from the witch, brush their hair, fill up their cups, and take your remaining 10 minutes reading a book together to welcome mommy’s nice, new home and look like you’re in a Jane Austen movie, sitting so prim and proper in your clean house. This little spell will be presentable for twelve hours tops, so plan accordingly.
What are your cleaning hacks?