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Health & Balance

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Speed Cleaning: Get Guest-Ready

Company's coming – in 12 minutes. Tackle these hot spots before the doorbell rings.

WebMD Feature from "Good Housekeeping" Magazine

By Carolyn Forte
Good Housekeeping Magazine Logo

Tools You'll Use

  • Empty laundry basket, bin, or bag
  • Plastic grocery bag
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Paper towels
  • Rubbing alcohol

Biggest Challenges

  1. Cluttered entryway
  2. Disheveled living room
  3. Not-quite-spotless bathroom

Fastest Fixes

1. Overhaul the front hall. Grab a laundry basket, storage bin, or large shopping bag to serve as a junk receptacle, plus a plastic grocery bag and microfiber cloth. Load up your bin with any shoes, gloves, or hats that litter the foyer. Stash hall-table clutter that could get lost (mail, keys) in the plastic bag; put the bag into the bin. While you're near the door, shake doormats outside. Flip on the light for an indoor cobweb check; flick webs off with the cloth (don't worry about ones too high up — chances are, visitors won't notice them once they see your smiling face). Take your bin, and keep moving. (3 minutes)

2. Put the living room in order. Next stop: where guests will hang out most. Keep filling the bin with kids' toys, newspapers, and anything else that doesn't need to be here. Run your microfiber cloth over the coffee table and other dusty surfaces, like the TV screen. Pile magazines or books into neat stacks on the end tables; gather all of the stray remotes in one place. Plump up throw pillows and chair cushions (even easier: flip the latter, if possible). Use a clean corner of the microfiber cloth to nab any obvious clumps of pet hair or dust stuck to upholstery or carpeting. Drape throws to hide dingy chair arms or furniture stains. Drop off the bin in the laundry room or a nearby bedroom, or hide it in a closet; swap the cloth for a few paper towels. Move on to the bathroom. (4 minutes)

3. Fake a super-clean bathroom. Tuck stuff from the vanity into the cabinet or drawers, and close the shower door or stretch out the curtain (sure, nosy guests may still snoop inside, but at least you've cut down on visual clutter). Wet a paper towel with rubbing alcohol to both clean and shine, and wipe down the mirror, faucet, sink, and countertop. Use a new alcohol-dipped towel to go over the toilet's seat and rim. Clean up spots and hair from the floor with a third water-dampened paper towel. Finally, put out fresh hand towels. Make a round-trip to the kitchen with the wastebasket to dump it into the larger trash can. (5 minutes)

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