Unexpected Guests? Here Are 8 Tips for Cleaning Up Your House in a Hurry

Roborock / Roborock

When you learn unexpected guests are coming over, those kitchen corner crumbs and that dining room table clutter are probably the first things that come to mind as things that need to go, and fast. Luckily, last-minute cleaning doesn’t have to cause panic—and with the right strategies, you can tidy up quickly, efficiently, and effectively.

To help make your home guest-ready, Mental Floss has partnered with Roborock to offer eight easy tips to clean up crumbs, debris, and clutter before your friends and family arrive.

1. Assemble a cleaning caddy ahead of time.

Even if you have no company on the horizon, you should always have a cleaning kit ready that stocks essential supplies like disinfecting wipes, sponges, and a multi-purpose spray all in one place. Don’t forget a stain-removing stick or a natural stain-fighter like white vinegar to help with any unexpected spots you encounter along the way. Just pack all of these supplies in a caddy with a handle that you can easily carry between rooms to save yourself tons of time.

2. Start with some easy decluttering.

Our homes have transformed into day care centers, classrooms, and makeshift offices as of late, and all of that time spent indoors has led to more clutter than you’d ever want your guests to see—and that’s exactly where you should start your last-minute cleaning. You can enlist family members to help put away clothes, toys, books, magazines, and other spare items. Don’t have a spot for something? Sweep it into a collapsible bin or laundry basket and stash it away to deal with later. Just don’t forget to go back and address the bin after everyone leaves.

3. Focus on the gathering areas.

Your guests will likely spend their time in three rooms: the kitchen, living room, and bathroom. Instead of wasting precious time by cleaning the entire house, narrow your attention to these highly trafficked areas. If you have a robot vacuum, set it to work once you’ve finished dusting the shelves and cleaning the countertops, and repeat this step in every room that your guests will frequent. Think of tidying everywhere else—yes, even picking up those toys scattered in your kids’ room—only if you have extra time.

4. Spot clean the bathroom.

To get your bathroom ready for guests, clear off your counters and wipe them down with a multi-purpose cleaner. If you run out of traditional cleaners, just mix 1 ⅔ cups of baking soda, ½ cup of liquid soap, ½ cup of water, and a splash of vinegar to make a homemade alternative for tubs, toilets, and sinks. Also, remember to refill the soap dispenser, load a new toilet paper roll, and set out a clean hand towel for guests.

5. Empty the kitchen sink.

That cereal bowl from breakfast and your kid’s milk cup shouldn't be sitting in the sink when guests arrive, especially if you’re hosting a meal that requires kitchen prep. Take a few minutes to rinse dishes and load your dishwasher, so you’ll have more room for your get-together.

6. Remove pet hair.

You may not mind your pets’ loose fuzz, but your guests probably do. Remove any unwanted pet hair from rugs and couches by using a lint roller or rubber gloves (pushing the rubber against the fabric generates enough friction to gather pet hair). When you’re done, simply rinse the gloves under running water to unstick the hair.

7. Take out the trash.

This is an obvious one, but it’s so easy to forget. To prepare for the influx of garbage that your guests are sure to produce, you should take out any trash you already have before they come over. This will again cut down on clutter while also removing any unwanted odors. And be sure to line your bins with several bags so a replacement is already there when you remove one.

8. Freshen up.

If it’s not too chilly, open windows or doors to allow fresh air into your home to keep it from smelling stale. Is your garbage disposal giving off a telltale scent of all the dirty work it’s been doing? Cut fresh lemons or limes into quarters, turn the water on, and slowly feed the fruit into the disposal to leave it smelling clean. Use a room spray or light candles to give your home a soft aroma. This approach will also mask any smells from cleaning products that you’ve just used during your last-minute housework blitz. Plus, a few candles will make your home feel warm and welcoming.

With these cleaning tasks complete, you can focus on fun elements of preparing for guests, such as laying out snacks, chilling drinks, and picking the perfect photo spot to snap memories of your get-together.

Treat yourself to hassle-free, automated cleaning this holiday season with the Roborock S7 and S7+ robot vacuums. Not only is the S7 powerful enough to lift debris embedded deep within your home’s carpets, but its sonic mopping function scrubs floors 3000 times per minute, eliminating dried-on dirt and stubborn stains. With the S7+, you’ll get all the features of the S7 but with an added auto-empty function that allows for hands-free debris disposal. Through November 29, you can take 30 percent off the S7 and 24 percent off the S7+, resulting in a sale price of $455 and $720, respectively. If the S7+ is sold out, you can buy an S7 along with a separate Auto-Empty Dock.