A person holds a basket of cleaning supplies.
Natali _ Mis/

Last-minute plans have been made, and now you’re expecting visitors to knock on your door soon. However, there are dishes in the sink, unfolded laundry on the couch, and honestly, you don’t remember the last time your floors were swept. How do you clean your house fast?

Take a deep breath because we talked to a few experts at Procter & Gamble—Home Care Scientist Maria Striemer and Fabric Care Expert Jennifer Ahoni—to give us professional advice on how to fake a clean house in a pinch. And don’t worry, we won’t tell your dirty little secrets.

Here are some quick and easy cleaning tips that will make the most significant impact on your so that guests think you’ve got the cleanest house on the block.


A woman uses a rag to dust shelves.

“Nobody cleans faster than when they know their mother-in-law is on her way over,” said Maria Striemer, Procter and Gamble Home Care Scientist and Global Scientific Communications Senior Manager.

Dusting is a much-needed first step when expecting that surprise guest. It provides a healthier environment and makes the home look instantly cleaner when dust and debris aren’t floating around the air and on surfaces.

But did you know there’s a proper order for dusting? According to Striemer, you should always start high and work your way to the bottom.

“Ceiling fans, light fixtures, shutters, and blinds down to tables and picture frames. Don’t forget the kitchen where dust and grease meet and leave a sticky residue on the floor next to the stove,” said Striemer.

She recommended finishing the job with a floor mop to absorb all that dust that’s floated its way to the floor, simultaneously making your floors appear sparkly clean.

Use Your Dishwasher


Don’t waste your precious time hand-washing the dishes in the sink—turn to your dishwasher instead.

“Your dishwasher was designed to be way more energy and water efficient than washing dishes at your sink, which can waste two gallons of water a minute,” Striemer said.

Even if you don’t have an entire load to wash, you can still get them out of sight by running a half-load or placing them in the dishwasher until it’s full. We know what you are probably thinking. Running a half-load is a waste, right? Think again!

“Even a half-load in the dishwasher is designed to save water vs. hand washing,” Striemer said.

She also recommended cleaning as you go by washing the dishes or putting them in the dishwasher after cooking (or between meals) instead of letting them pile up for one big clean. In fact, according to Striemer, more than 60% of people clean as they go on a daily basis.

This bit of advice might not be super helpful at the moment, but it certainly can help future you who might stumble upon this dilemma later!

Do Laundry

A woman put laundry in the dryer.

Your home can look messier with piles of laundry all around your house, according to Jennifer Ahoni, Fabric Care Principle Scientist at Procter & Gamble.

“If you have a large, daunting load of laundry and suddenly find yourself facing last-minute guests, don’t worry—you can still quickly get to it,” said Ahoni.

For unwashed clothing, Ahoni recommended trying out your washing machine’s quick wash cycle. Not only does this cycle wash clothes fast, but you’ll also save water in the long run thanks to the shorter running time.

“Plus, when you pair the quick cycle with a cold wash temperature, you’ll use five times less energy versus the average normal cycle on a warm setting,” said Ahoni.

We know it’s tempting, but Ahoni also recommended not overstuffing the washer. To ensure the machine is adequately full, she advised placing your hand between the drum wall and the clothes — if it fits easily, you’re good to go! If it’s a tight squeeze, or you can’t place your hand in there at all, you should probably remove some clothes to avoid damaging the machine.

Of course, the remaining unwashed clothes can be placed in a hamper and stuffed in your bedroom closet. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

You can also place washed clothes in a hamper (careful not to mix them with the unwashed clothing, of course) and place it in the closet too. Nobody will ever know.

Sanitize and De-Wrinkle Fabrics

Woman lying on the couch, typing on her laptop.

Bacteria can linger on all surfaces, including linens and upholstery, but you can’t just throw your couch or large rug in the washing machine, can you? Ahoni recommended using a fabric sanitizer or spray to kill the bacteria and freshen up the home.

A fabric sanitizer will not only make your home and upholstery smell great, but it also sanitizes it, giving your guests a clean environment to hang out in.

“Pleasant ambient odors tend to improve mood, and unpleasant odors worsen mood,” Striemer said. “Even more, scent can elevate emotions when performing routine or mundane chores such as cleaning or laundering clothes.”

So whip out that fabric sanitizer to clean the furniture in your home and make it smell delicious too. But don’t stop there.

“Wrinkled fabrics also make your home look less than its best,” Ahoni said.

She recommends using a wrinkle-release spray on throw blankets, curtains, or any other visible fabrics so that you aren’t spending a lot of time ironing.

To use a wrinkle-release spray, Ahoni advises spraying it in a sweeping motion about 8 inches away from the fabric until just slightly damp; then, tug and smooth out wrinkles and allow it to dry.

Get Your Bedding and Towels Ready

A basket is filled with folded bath towels.

One of the easiest ways to make your home feel clean is to always have fresh and clean guest linens and towels.

“Since guestroom bedding and bathroom hand towels aren’t used often, you want to make sure they are cleaned with a quality detergent that removes visible and invisible soils well and use some fabric enhancers to leave them fresh out of storage,” Ahoni said.

To freshen up bedding and towels, Ahoni recommends washing them in cold water with a high-quality detergent to provide a deep clean of the build-up of visible and invisible body soils that can be present in bed sheets and lead to odors, dinginess, and dullness. Don’t forget to follow the care label for drying!

Check out products designed to provide a lengthy amount of freshness for extended periods, especially if guest-bedroom linen and towels are sitting in between guests.

“Even if you have to quickly make a bed last minute, the bedding can smell fresh as if you just washed it,” Ahoni explained.

Remove Pet Hair off Fabrics and Surfaces

A dog rolls around on a couch.

Pet hair lingering on fabrics and surfaces around your home can make it appear less clean, per Ahoni.

Attack your furniture and carpet with a lint roller, Squeegee, or handheld vacuum. Vacuuming any rugs and carpets to rid more than just pet hair, like other dirt and debris, is also recommended.

However, for throw blankets and clothing, use a product like hair and lint guard dryer sheets to help keep pet hair at bay before it even begins to stick to your fabrics.

“The same technology that reduces static also helps to repel three times more pet hair vs. regular dryer sheets so you can lint roll less,” Ahoni said.

Simply throw the dryer sheets in the dryer with your blankets and see the difference in how they collect pet hair, saving you time and energy in the future.

To get rid of that pet hair in a pinch, you can also whip out some rubber gloves. This hack will save you time and money!

Don’t Forget Air Care

A living room features a candle on a coffee table and a green blanket thrown over a couch, and a plug-in is plugged into a wall near a wooden floor.

“The sense of smell and the impact of scent is fundamental to most experiences of daily life, including memory, mental and physical wellbeing, motivated behavior, and social behavior,” Striemer said.”

And scent plays in the ‘feeling’ of cleanliness and the perception others have on your home.

“Smells are a fundamental part of daily life, with a unique ability to arouse emotions and impact our mental and physical wellbeing,” Striemer said. “Yet, it continues to be underutilized when it comes to the design of our homes.”

She recommends using an air freshener to create the perfect atmosphere for every room’s specific needs, odors, and style.

According to Striemer, a bad-smelling home can negatively impact a space, no matter how beautifully decorated or clean it is.

“Although fragrance isn’t tangible, scientific evidence continues to show it has an impact on people’s moods and emotions,” Striemer explained. “Scent Styling builds on the art of interior design by engaging this often-overlooked sense – smell – to enhance the way we experience our homes.”

When in doubt, spray some Febreze, light a candle, make a simmer pot, or plug in an air freshener. A yummy-smelling home might just be the lifesaving answer to making your home appear clean (even if it truly isn’t).

And if you still have some time after “fake cleaning” your home, check out these quick and easy cookie recipes so your surprise guests can enjoy your clean house and a delicious dessert. You’ll have to re-clean your kitchen a bit after, but it’s an easy price to pay for happy guests!

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