16 Ways to Fake a Clean Home — Fast

Follow these 16 steps to a quick home clean-upNeed to clean up in a hurry? Whether you're expecting guests, the guests just left, or you want to at least pretend that yours is a life of clean and ordered bliss, pick a task, any task, for quick tips to fix your place up fast.

1. Brighten the Bathroom
First, flush. Next, grab some bleach. Pour a cup into the bowl; brush around the sides and under the rim. Next, fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and white vinegar. Spritz onto paper towels or a microfiber cloth, and hone in on those telltale soap drips and toothpaste spatters on faucets, mirrors, countertops, and in the sink - a definite dirty-bathroom giveaway. Next, shake out your rug or bath mat to fluff it up so it looks recently vacuumed. Now, flush the bleach that's been sitting in the bowl.

2. Put the Living Room in Order
Run a microfiber cloth over the coffee table and other dusty surfaces, like the TV screen. Pile magazines or books into neat stacks on the end tables; gather all of the stray remotes in one place. Plump up throw pillows and chair cushions (even easier: flip the latter, if possible). Use a clean corner of the microfiber cloth to nab any obvious clumps of pet hair or dust stuck to upholstery or carpeting. Drape throws to hide dingy chair arms or furniture stains.

3. Speed-Clean the Mudroom
Dry dirt is easier to remove than sticky mud, so don't even bother cleaning until the footprints get crusty; then just open the back door and sweep it all out. Wash the floor the fast, no-bucket-necessary way, with either a water-dampened microfiber mop or an all-in-one mopping system like Swiffer WetJet. Zap any scuff marks as you go with a bit of baking soda on a damp sponge.

Related: How to Clean and Organize Toys

4. Think Sink
Stop pretending you're going to rinse those dishes piling up on the counter, and load them in the dishwasher (or if not, at least stack them neatly in the sink). Run some water over drippy detergent bottles, then stick those, pot scrubbers, and rubber gloves under the sink.

5. Skip the Oven
If you haven't run the self-cleaning cycle, and can't commit to this hours-long task, spot-clean dead-giveaway grime - stovetop spills, grease on the door handle or inside the glass door - with a sponge and a dash of baking soda (it'll rinse off easier than a sudsy cleaner, FYI).

6. De-hair the Chairs
Don't waste your time with a lint roller. Instead, don a pair of clean rubber gloves. Run your hands over the arms, seat, and back of the furniture, gathering and tossing the fur as it balls up. For water-safe upholstery (which doesn't change or transfer color when blotted with a damp cloth in a hidden spot), wet the gloves for better pickup.

7. Overhaul the Front Hall
Grab a laundry basket, storage bin, or large shopping bag to serve as a junk receptacle, plus a plastic grocery bag and microfiber cloth. Load up your bin with any shoes, gloves, or hats that litter the foyer. Stash hall-table clutter that could get lost (mail, keys) in the plastic bag; put the bag into the bin. While you're near the door, shake doormats outside. Drop off the bin in the laundry room or a nearby bedroom, or hide it in a closet.

8. Combat Cooking Fumes
Try this to erase the scent of yesterday's broiled fish: In a saucepan, mix 3 tablespoons of white vinegar and 1 cup of water and boil for several minutes. Vinegar is acidic and odors are alkaline, so the former will neutralize the latter.

9. Quick-Wash Your Desktop
Move light items like files and your keyboard or laptop out of the way (just work around the bigger stuff). If your work surface is laminate or another washable material, spritz on all-purpose cleaner, wipe with a sponge, and rinse. For sealed wood surfaces, use a vinegar-water mix. Let either cleaner soak on sticky stains for a few seconds, then scrape with your fingernail or a credit card; wipe and rinse. Ink stains will come off with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol; rinse with a sponge.

Related: Cleaning Tips to Solve Any Crisis

10. Fireplace Fix
After the ash is completely cold, sprinkle it with damp tea leaves or coffee grounds to cover the stale smell and keep down dust (so you don't inhale it). Then scoop the pile with a fireplace shovel (don't worry if you can't get it all - leaving an inch or two behind is fine), and dump it into a metal can, bucket, or even an old stockpot or clay flowerpot. Discard the mess outside, ideally in a metal trash container, but definitely away from your house.

11. Hide the Stains
Maybe the covering is a little worse for the wear, too. Have your kids cut out paper snowflakes to discreetly tape over problem areas. Scatter a few extras, so the look seems intentional. If all else fails, set serving trivets on top.

12. Fluff Up the Carpet
Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI) gives top marks to the Woolite Pod tool from Bissell ($4.39, woolitecarpet.com), which cleans and fluffs fibers in minutes. Also, see previous rug fix for wood floors.

13. Fix Up the Walls
Your best bet: A stain-repair stick like Minwax Blend-Fil Pencil in a close hue (assorted colors, $4.49 each, minwax.com). It's like concealer for your baseboard's blemishes. Second best: A Crayola marker can help stained-wood boards.

14. Get the Nicks Out
You've got two choices: Marker it or cover it. For the former, try the GHRI's favorite furniture markers, the Guardsman Touch-Up Marker Kit ($4.50 for three, guardsman.com). Apply to scratch, buff with a soft cloth, and top with a coat of furniture polish. Or just institute your own cover-up: For coffee or end tables, arrange books, coasters, or nibbles on top, or drape with a nice scarf. For the dining room table, need we even say it? Haul out that holiday tablecloth.

Related: Your Speed-Cleaning Guide

15. Fake a Super-Clean Bathroom
Tuck stuff from the vanity into the cabinet or drawers, and close the shower door or stretch out the curtain (sure, nosy guests may still snoop inside, but at least you've cut down on visual clutter). Clean up spots and hair from the floor with a water-dampened paper towel. Finally, put out fresh hand towels.

16. Make It Easier Next Time
Add a shoe bag to the inside of your entryway closet door: It makes a great stash spot for hats and gloves, unopened mail, and (yep) shoes when you're picking up in a hurry.

How do you clean up in a hurry? Let us know in the comments!

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