Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Faux Cleaning: The Illusion of Clean in a Snap

If your house somehow blew up over the last 24 hours, then you'll probably find this handy. My house blows up every 24 hours, and every 24 hours I have to rein it back in.

Baseboards are important, but let's be honest: Sometimes the most important thing a busy family can do is trick people into thinking their house is clean. ("Whoa, wait...Kendra, are you suggesting that I LIE??!" Uh...I wouldn't exactly call it "lying"...I'd call it, "improving the truth.")

Before we get started, you need my credentials. I don't want you to trust me without proof that I know what I'm talking about, so here it goes: I am an expert whirlwind cleaner. When I was growing up, we would arrive home at night and immediately become surrounded by backpacks, shoes, coats, the glasses we were drinking out of, loose mail, and various and sundry pieces of crap that magically appear in a house where people are SO FREAKING BUSY they don't have time to breathe. Inevitably, that's when the phone would ring, and it would be an obscure friend who planned to be at our house within 15 minutes. EEK! Those phone calls were like a battle cry...but we were the quick-clean champions of the universe. I have honed those skills as an adult - not because we have friends just "dropping by," but because I have a very hard time functioning in a messy house. I can't do anything if the house is a wreck. Once I trick myself into thinking the house is clean, I can move forward with more important things...like blogging! :)

I've got "faux cleaning" down to an art, kids. Here are the basics...

If you have 5 minutes:
  • Put everything that doesn't belong (papers, toys, clothes, shoes, bags, and other miscellanea) into ONE laundry basket, and shove that sucker into a room. Shut the door. Sort later.
  • Fluff the pillows in the living room
  • Shut every bedroom and closet door
  • Swipe the toilet and the bathroom counter
If you have 10 minutes:
  • Take every miscellaneous thing to the room in which it belongs (don't worry about putting it away...just get it in there. This will make your life easier when it's time to clean for real). If it belongs in a common room (like the kitchen or living room), put it temporarily behind a door -- like a bedroom. Shut the door. Sort later.
  • Fluff the pillows in the living room
  • Shut every bedroom and closet door
  • Swipe the toilet and the bathroom counter
  • Put all your dirty dishes into the dishwasher (or at least the sink if there's no room)
  • Swipe the kitchen counters
If you have 15 minutes:
  • Do all the 10 minute tasks
  • Stack miscellaneous paper and put it in to a bin specifically purchased for miscellaneous paper. (If you don't have one of these, please go get one. Having a place to put school papers and junk mail will rock your world) You can go through and sort later...right now you just need to get it off the kitchen table, amirite?
  • Wipe surfaces in the living room
  • Vacuum - for heaven's sake, don't get ambitious - just hit the high spots.
If you have 20 minutes:
  • Do all of the 15 minute tasks
  • Put a laundry basket in each bedroom and fill it with any clothes that happen to be strewn around the room. It's not ideal, but it works in a pinch, and your floors will look awesome. Those clothes can be put away when you have a little more time.
  • Light a scented candle
If you have 30 minutes:
  • Do all of the 20 minute tasks
  • Sweep and mop the kitchen and bathrooms
  • Wipe out your kitchen sink
  • Empty bathroom trash

If you have more than 30 minutes, stop taking shortcuts and clean your darn house.

Worst case scenario, visitors will realize that you (gasp!) actually live in your house. People who love you don't mind seeing your shoes by the door and your dishes on the kitchen counter. People who don't love you...well...their opinion shouldn't matter anyway.

Now, go forth and fake perfection like a champ.



  1. I do the laundry basket trick - works like a charm. Of course, then I struggle to actually put the things back where they belong, and the basket sits there until I need to next sweep around and do the laundry basket trick again. Whoops.

  2. Love this!! I use the scented candle plan a lot! Wipes over the edges of the doors and the door molding add a sense of clean as well.



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