We've consulted a couple of cleaning and decluttering gurus to help you whip your house into shape in an hour or less.
The key, they say, is setting priorities: Everything can't get sparkling clean in this short time.
But you can make the house presentable.
Living Room and Foyer
Clear clutter. Put shoes, jackets, hats, newspapers, toys, mail and anything else that shouldn't be in these areas in bags that you can stash out of sight.
Use a microfiber cloth to dust any horizontal surfaces, as well as the TV and coffee table.
Straighten out couch cushions and pillows, drape a throw over any stains or worn spots, and if you have pets, run a cloth or pet roller over any visible fur.
Check the floor and clean up any food stains, giant dust bunnies or clumps of pet hair.
Clear the counters, shelves and back of the toilet of any excess cosmetics, curling irons, hairbrushes etc. Stash it all under the sink or in a drawer.
Squirt toilet-bowl cleaner in the bowl and let it soak while you clean.
Spray down sink and counter with disinfecting spray. Use paper towels to wipe down counters. Scrub sink with a sponge and rinse. Then spray faucet and stopper and wipe down with a paper towel.
Spray a vinegar solution on mirrors and wipe clean.
Scrub the toilet with a brush and flush. Use disinfecting wipes to wipe down the seat and to go over the outside of the toilet.
Shake out the bathroom rug so it looks fresh. Hang some fresh towels.
Stash any unnecessary tools or appliances. Spray disinfectant on the counters to remove grime.
Use spray cleaner and get every particle of food out of the sink. Wipe down the faucet. And the refrigerator handle.
Spot clean any food stains on the floor and sweep up any remains of breakfast or lunch that are still lingering. Wipe down your table and any chairs that have sticky fingerprints or food residue.
Hang new dishtowels.
Empty the trash and take all bags outside to your can. Put in a fresh bag.
Scripps Howard News Service