- The whole house: Skip the vacuum. Use a DustBuster to pick up noticeable debris in high-traffic areas, and follow with a dry Swiffer if needed. Avoid strongly scented cleaners like bleach and Pine-Sol, and opt instead for Mrs. Meyers Basil Countertop Spray ($4) or Method Multi-Surface Wipes ($4). Light a couple scented candles, and open all the windows.
- The entry: Hang up jackets and scarves, and either put away shoes or line them up neatly. Relocate stacks of mail to the office or a letter basket, and spritz the entry with a fresh-smelling room spray — I'm partial to Crabtree and Evelyn's Lavender Room Spray ($16).
- The kitchen: If you don't have time to wash and dry the dishes lying around, give them a quick rinse and stack them neatly in the sink to get them out of the way. Wipe down the counters with a cleaning wipe, and take out any stinky trash like compost.
- The living room: Pick up any out-of-place items and toss them in a basket. Refold throws, straighten sofa cushions, and put throw pillows back in their rightful place. If you have pets, give their areas a quick shot of Febreze.
- The bathroom: Wipe down the bathroom counters, sink, and faucet with a premoistened, flushable cleaning wipe, like these from Method ($4). Spritz a little cleaner into the toilet bowl and give it a quick swirl with a toilet brush.
Just before your guests arrive, dim any overhead lights, light a few more strategically placed candles, and open a bottle of wine. I guarantee no one will be looking around for what you missed! How do you speed clean to prepare for unexpected guests?