Friends coming over in T-minus 30 minutes? Save yourself a freak-out with our guide to speed-cleaning.


Do a pass-through of key rooms, picking up clutter as you go. Forget about putting things in their proper places. Just collect any of these and put in a closet: catalogs, bills and newspapers; pet toys; handbags and shoes; sports equipment and stray DVDs.

Time: 4 minutes

Wipe down

Slap on your gloves and carry all of these items in a small cleaning caddy so you can easily move from room to room.

Spray an all-purpose cleaner on your kitchen countertop and wipe away grime with paper towels or a microfiber cloth.

Remove fingerprints from stainless-steel surfaces using a glass cleaner, specialty cleaner, or plain water and a cloth.

Wipe down the dining table and other surfaces, such as a china cabinet or server (if you have hardwood, just remove dust with a damp rag or microfiber cloth).

Spray the bathroom sink, vanity and counters with an all-purpose disinfectant.

Wipe down the outer edge of the tub (it's something all guests will see) and pull the curtain or shower door closed.

Clean the mirror with vinegar and wipe with newsprint (odd but it works). Paper towels can leave a fuzzy residue.

Spritz all outside surfaces of the toilet with disinfectant before moving inside. Wipe clean.

Lift the toilet seat lid and spray cleaner on the top and bottom, then squeeze bowl cleaner under the rim or pour in a cup of cleaner. Use a toilet brush to scrub under the rim and inside of the bowl. Flush.

Time: 10 minutes


Swiffer-type cleaning products are the speed cleaner's friend. Swiff your coffee table after spraying it with an all-purpose cleaner, if your furniture surface is suitable. Next, tackle the TV (including screen) and entertainment center and quickly swiff any frames and collectibles on display. Then, swiff the floors in the kitchen, living room and bathroom and finish up by defurring couches and chairs with a lint roller.

Time: 5 minutes


Clear out the sink and put dishes into the dishwasher.

Empty the bathroom wastepaper basket.

Take out the trash.

Time: 2 minutes


Put out fresh hand towels, a box of tissues, extra TP, air freshener and hand soap.

Do a chair count and haul out the extras.

Replenish your table with fresh placemats if there are stains on the current set, or flip them over to the clean side.

Fill the napkin holder.

Time: 4 minutes


Take out serving dishes and wine glasses (check for smudge spots) so they are within reach when guests arrive.

Fluff and arrange wayward throw pillows and push in couch cushions that might be off-kilter.

Make an instant centerpiece by throwing fruit or vegetables into a decorative bowl in the center of the dining table.

Dim the lights and light candles. Nothing hides cleaning imperfections better.

Put on your game face. People are at the door!

Time: 4 minutes

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.