Fastest Way to Clean Before Company

stay calm during a toddler meltdown

Keeping your home spick and span is practically impossible (at least to sustain) when you have kids. From toys to snack cups and all the socks and shoes in between, the young ones tend to be incredibly good at strewing their stuff around for you to trip on, sit on, or lean on. So it’s no wonder that most parents feel a flurry of excitement immediately followed by a rush of anxiety when friends or family confirm they’re coming over. 

First, there’s managing the mess of things, then you have to actually get rid of the dust bunnies (we all have ‘em!) and clean the crumbs off the counters and floors. If just thinking about organizing and cleaning your house sends you into stress mode, fret no more. We’ve got the perfect hack for busy parents. 

Start tidying up at the front door and work your way through your house just as your guests will. This method will help you to see your home through the eyes of an outsider and focus on the areas that can make the biggest impression–good and bad!–so you can prioritize the essentials spots and tackle them efficiently so you’ve got time to deal with the kids, too.

To get started, gather your cleaning caddy and army of small but able children, then follow this helpful plan. 

Front Door + Entryway 

First, empty the mailbox and wipe down any glass panes on your door, which will be noticeable to guests who are staring ahead waiting for you to let them in. Then, instead of lugging the vacuum over, simply shake out your front door mat to rid it of any loose debris. Once inside, have your kids help pair up the shoes and bring them to the right bedroom closet while you hang up any coats or hide them behind closed doors. A blank wall is a good first impression, plus it makes space for guests’ outerwear while they’re over. If there’s no time to unpack deliveries, give yourself a break and neatly stack the boxes in the corner. 


Next, make your way into the bathroom your guests will be using and start at the top–literally. Spray the mirror, counter and toilet, then wipe in order of cleanest to dirty so you’re not spreading germs. You can cut floor cleaning time in half by picking up pieces of dirt and hair with a cleaning wipe as you swipe away visible spots. Last but definitely not least, empty the garbage can and throw in a fresh hand towel. 

Living Room

A quick run of the vacuum and fluff of the throw pillows goes a long way here. Lest not forget removing any cheerios or socks stuffed in the couch, of course. If miscellaneous toys are an obvious eye sore, pile them up on the coffee table or ottoman and have your kids collect what’s theirs and run them back to their rooms.    


Ending here means you can devote whatever leftover time you have, plus transition right into any food prep. Counters and stove tops tend to have stuck-on bits, so give them a good spray and empty your sink drain and garbage can while they work their magic. Once you wipe everything clean, put away everything in your dish drying racks, which tend to attract attention in the worst of ways. Then, throw dirty dish towels in the wash and light a candle for good measure. Finally, tackle unsightly fingerprints on appliances. Do a quick wipe of the outside of the dishwasher and fridge before you move on to meal making.


Always leave these for last (whether you’re cleaning up yourself or checking your kids’ handiwork) because it’s easy enough to close the door if you run out of time. Start by making the bed or at least straightening out the sheets and blankets and arranging the pillow. Then, address the hamper. Bring big heaps of dirty clothes to the laundry room if you can, or settle on pushing everything down so it doesn’t appear to be overflowing. Unless there’s something on the floor or dressers that’s super visible, skip dusting and vacuuming which frankly won’t be appreciated by the children who might be spending time in there.

If and when you start to feel the clock ticking, remember no house (with kids or not!) is ever perfectly clean or organized. Do what you can in the time you have, but be sure to leave some time to get yourself ready, too! Afterall, you’re less likely to be peeved about not having been able to vacuum the living room if you styled your hair or had time to find your favorite top.