12 Days of Clean: Pre-Guest Tidy in 10 Minutes


Tidying vs. Cleaning

There is a difference you know.  The divisible line is whether something is being cleaned (i.e. dirt removed, spiffed) or simply tidied (organized and straightened up).  One should not be confused with the other.

We tidy up when friends come over, but we clean up when our mother or mother-in-law comes over. Get the difference now?

We’ve been getting a lot of requests for this post – people want to know how to do this quickly because quite frankly, most of us hate doing it.   If you keep your home tidy, then cleaning it isn’t too hard.  It’s just a matter of picking up and organizing.  But, if you are methodical about it you can get it done even faster and that’s what I want to explain with this post.

Room dividing technique

When I clean, I divide up each room like a clock.  The door is my 12 O’ Clock point (or the sink if there is one in the room) since this is the last place I want to clean.  By dividing it up into 12 smaller ‘chunks’ I can go around the room and clean all areas quickly,using one consistent method and knowing that I have not forgotten any areas.  This may sound strange but if you think about how much time you waste going back to spots around the room that you’ve missed, you will love this method.  This way, you keep working around the room and by the time you reach the door, your cleaning is done.


10 minutes to straighten and tidy

Tidying on a regular basis works wonders for keeping a room clean.  If you follow the cardinal rule of giving everything a place and keeping it there, you should be OK.  But, if you’re not like that (which I am not), it will take some concerted effort to tidy.  Here’s what to do.

This 10 minute routine focuses on getting rid of trash and putting everything in its home, then leaving everything looking neat and tidy.

What you are going to do is have a garbage bag, recycling bag  and a laundry basket ready to collect your items that are currently not in their place (garbage or otherwise). You’ll also have a dampened microfiber cloth at the ready to touch anything up or pick up any rogue dust.  We’ll focus on ‘faking it’, meaning we’ll tackle the eye-level areas and omit the less-obvious spots for a more thorough clean.  The most important thing here is that things look tidy, organized, decluttered and straightened.

  1. Set your timer for 10 minutes and get a laundry basket, dampened cloth, recycling bag and a garbage bag. Choose a starting point (see above).
  2. Starting at your 12 O’Clock , pick up all items you can see that are not in their place.  If they belong in the room, place them in the basket and pull them out when you reach that particular chunk of the room.  If the item is garbage (or recycling, just consider garbage as both garbage and recycling going forward), you know what to do.  Anything that is out of place and belongs in another room can go in the laundry basket as well, and can be dealt with at a later point.
  3. Use the cloth to do any quick cleans i.e. wipe away a fingerprint, touch up a dust ring you see, remove a scuff mark on the wall etc.  This is not heavy-duty clean up time, you are just touching up the glaring boo-boos.
  4. Line all items up parallel or perpendicularly and straighten everything.  So, if you have stacks of papers, straighten them out and make sure the edges are together, line all items up on tabletops or the floor by placing them parallel or perpendicular to each other.  If you have a lamp shade tilted to one side, centre it, etc.  That’s the visual cue that everything is tidy. Try it – you’ll be amazed!
  5. Take a moment to fold blankets, fluff pillows and upholstery and remove lint or debris from seats (use a lint roller for this).  Never fluffed a pillow before?  Think of an ex or a bad teacher or boss and start punching.  It feels gooooood!
  6. Finish off by placing the garbage directly in your garbage bin and taking all the items in the laundry basket to their rightful home (or, place it in a room that won’t be visited and promise yourself you’ll deal with it later).

Take a moment and just pat yourself on the back.  That’s super awesome.  When we finished shooting this video, I was *slightly* out of breath and my husband reminded me how great I was at tidying and encouraged me to ‘spend 10 minutes each day’.  Dream on!

So that’s my tidying secret.  That’s how I do it.  I used to be all over the place and get distracted (‘oh, I forgot I had that.  How does it work again?) or fall off task and end up in another room inevitably Googling something.  If you stick to your 10 minute timer and work room by room, you can have the whole house thoroughly tidied and organized in an hour (depending on size of course).  A condo can be tidied in about half that time!

What are your tidying tips?

Check out our other 12 Days Of Clean tips here!

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Melissa Maker is the host of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube, editor-at-large of CleanMySpace.com, and founder of Clean My Space (a well-known Toronto-based cleaning service). She's been knee-deep in the cleaning game since 2006. Follow Melissa: @MelissaMaker on Instagram, SnapChat & Twitter!


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