You Only Have 30 Minutes to Clean Before Guests Arrive — Here’s the Best Way to Use That Time

published Nov 21, 2022
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Here’s the scene: Guests are coming in half an hour. The food is pretty much done and you’re just about ready, but the place looks a little disheveled. There’s no time to deep clean (and frankly, it’s not necessary), but you’d love it if things looked a bit more the way you want them to. This isn’t only to honor your guests, but so that you feel comfortable and undistracted while you’re entertaining

While you won’t have time to do all of these tasks in half an hour, pick and choose which needs your attention the most. Here are the top things to do in the 30 minutes before guests ring the doorbell: 

Don’t spend any time cleaning rooms that won’t be seen.

Don’t waste time or energy doing anything in spaces that won’t be seen by your guests. Now is not the time to straighten up the laundry room or finally make your bed. Instead, turn your attention to the spaces where you and guests will hang out, which probably includes the kitchen, the living room, and possibly your outdoor space. The bathroom that’ll be used by guests, however, is non-negotiable. More on that next. 

Make sure the guest bathroom is spotless.

Cleaning the bathroom is the most important part of getting ready for guests, and a dirty bathroom is the worst kind of dirty room. As always, start at the top and work your way down. Clean the mirror, then wipe down the faucets and the countertops. Scrub the sink. If you have a glass shower door, make sure that’s clean as well. Straighten up any visible items inside the shower so things look tidy. Next, clean the toilet, outside and in. Finally, make sure the floors and any mats are clean and straight. Check that there’s a plunger handy, refill hand soap if necessary, and make sure there’s plenty of toilet paper. 

Tidy the entrance and make it welcoming.

First impressions can set the tone for the entire visit. Make walking into your home a joy by taking the time to clean up any clutter in the entryway. Turn on the lights inside and outside by the door and along pathways if you have them.

Straighten up the living room.

Make sure that whatever room you’re entertaining in is nice and clean. Clearing clutter is the most important. Grab a laundry basket and toss anything that doesn’t belong in the room into it. Then, put the laundry basket into your bedroom (and make a promise to yourself to deal with it later). Straighten rugs and throw pillows. If you have time, running the vacuum over the floors will go a long way in making the room feel clean. Finally, add any finishing touches, like lighting candles and turning on soft music. 

Clean up the kitchen.

You may be tempted to clean up the kitchen first because it might be the messiest, but the kitchen is a utilitarian room that is expected to have a few dishes that need to be washed. It’s okay if it looks a bit more lived-in than other spaces. If you do have time, though, start by clearing the counters of clutter and wiping them down. Next, wash any dishes that are near or in the sink. Polish appliances and make sure the floors are clean. Add fresh cuttings to vases and light candles or set out water glasses and a pitcher.

Now, check your watch: It’s probably time to answer the door!