Ah, the dread. A relative decides she wants to behold your beautiful face and says she’ll drop by soon or the husband calls and casually drops a bomb about his colleagues visiting or you entirely forgot that you called work friends over for tea. As you rack your overworked mind with all failed excuses you can use to get out of this predicament, a silent realisation sinks in. The house is in a complete mess. Panic, you will and rightly so but we suggest you keep the “why me?” wailing session short and crisp. A quick clean-up is on the charts and you are your own help. Good thing you have us to walk you through it.
THE BEDROOM TREATY
Start with reminding yourself the best news of the day: Your unexpected guests are not going to set foot in the bedroom. This realisation will set you free, calm those nerves and bring out the sly evil in you! You thought right, the bedrooms can be utterly ignored and utilised as temporary dumping grounds (Insert: creepy resonating laugh).
AUTHORISED SCANNING MACHINE
Scan the batter field and access the damage. If you have kids, put them to work as well. Desperate times call for desperate measure, so bribes and promises are completely legitimate. On your own? Put on that determined look and get to work.
The three main areas you’ll need fix is the living room, the kitchen (most guest tend to saunter into the kitchen) and the washroom. Do a quick run around and mentally allot the time you need to turn the turmoil upside down. Keep the total amount you need to a strict 15 minutes. After all, you need spare time to fix yourself up too!
BATTLE OF THE LIVING ROOM
Think hotel. Think spartan. There is no time to be dainty and decorate the place. Your main aim is declutter and dust. There are three kinds of things: Things that don’t belong here, things that do and things that need to be disposed. Start with things that need to be disposed. Take a large garbage bag during your first scan of the house and pretend to be the best garbage collector there ever was. Swiftly collect all things rubbish from the living room and toss away the bag.
Now, deal with things that don’t belong in the living room. For now, you want to make them disappear. Putting them back in their original spot is a task for after your guests have left. Pick them up armful and dump them in the bedroom or inside closets. Close the door and revel in the magic of the disappearing act!
With fewer things to tackle, you are probably already feeling less stressed. But don’t let that slow you down. Put things from the living room in their rightful place and dust away surfaces while you are at it. The shoes go into the shoe cabinet, the coffee table books stacked up, pillows fluffed and the throws neatly tucked in.
THE KITCHEN WARS
Before attacking the kitchen, spray the stove with surface cleaner and let it sit. Do the same in the washrooms as well, with the sink, mirror, tank, faucets. Also, add toilet cleaner to the toilet bowl before heading back to the kitchen. This will give the all-purpose cleaner enough time to loosen dirt and grime, which in turn means faster cleaning. It all boils down to judiciously managing that little time you’ve got.
The ingenious closet rule applies for the kitchen as well. Canisters, ladles, plates whatever is out of place need to be simply dumped them in one cabinet and shut tight. If you need more space, the oven, microwave and dishwasher are great places to hide dirty dishes. Yes, you heard right. The chances of your beloved guest opening the microwave for inspection are slim to none, which magically converts that appliance into a hide away spot.
If you do have some time left over from your living room allotted minutes, dedicate it to washing a few dishes and cleaning the dining table. If you don’t, you can just as easily use the oven and a tablecloth to do the trick. End the mighty war on the kitchen with a quick scrub of the cleaner-treated stove and wipe of the counter top with a damp cloth.
CONNIVING FLOOR PLANS
If the floor needs a once over, it’s gotta be done. Fire up the mean dust fighting machine — the vacuum cleaner. Do your famous dance number and jive through the living room and kitchen with one clean sweep. Worse case scenario? The floor is dirty and you are out of time. With some tact, insist that you guests wear their shoes inside the house. Are you seeing where this is going?
THE WASHROOM CONSPIRACY
Spend the leftover of your time in the washroom. As you take a shower, scrub down the surfaces that you’ve sprayed with surface cleaner before. Combining personal grooming with cleaning the washroom is smart trick which wastes absolutely no time — a blessing for the time-starved, indeed.
Before you know it, the task at home has been done with grace. Finally, light some scented candles or spray the house with an air freshener.
This article written by me was originally published in The Ideal Home & Garden magazine, India in April, 2013.
All images are from pexel.com