Ten-Minute Task Force

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While having unexpected guests call with the cheerful announcement that they just happen to be in your area and will be popping by in ten minutes shouldn’t logically cause any panic, the reality is that this type of surprise often results in the need for a full-blown emergency cleanup brigade! Take a deep breath and tackle the task like this:

1. Focus on two rooms – the room you’ll be entertaining in, and the bathroom. Close the doors to any other rooms.

2. Recognize that your visitors’ noses will enter the room before their eyes, so remove any standing trash, open all the windows if the weather permits, and spray a light misting of room freshener around.

3. Grab a laundry basket and toss in all the clutter currently strewn about the front entryway and the room you’ll be sitting in. Hide the basket.

4. Clear off and wipe down the main table you’ll be sitting around.

5. Head to the bathroom with disposable disinfecting wipes, or an all-purpose spray and paper towels to give the bathroom sink, vanity, mirror and toilet a quick wipe. Put out a fresh hand towel, install a full roll of toilet paper and close the bathtub curtains.

6. Take a minute to check yourself out in the (newly sparkling) bathroom mirror. Run a brush through your hair, change your shirt if necessary and get that panicked look off your face. After all, your guests are coming to visit you, not coming to assess your housekeeping skills!

If you’ve ever had a household “emergency” like this you will certainly appreciate the need to be prepared for future cleanup crises. Follow the tips in the next column to make it a smoother process:

  • Gather all your cleaning supplies and sort through what you have and what you need. You may want to cut down on your jumble of cleaning products by replacing some of them with one, multi-purpose cleanser. Experiment with different combinations of vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice, mixed in a spray bottle with water, a few drops of dish soap and essential oils, to create a more natural, cost-effective cleaning spray. There are lots of recipes online to choose from.
  • Organize your cleaning supplies by placing all the heavy-duty items – the vacuum cleaner, broom and dustpan, mop and bucket – together in one, accessible place. Keep an all-purpose spray cleanser and paper towels under both the kitchen and bathroom sinks for quick, everyday wipe-downs.
  • Try to get everyone in the habit of looking over their shoulder before they leave a room, and taking with them any of their own belongings so junk doesn’t have a chance to start accumulating in the wrong places.
  • Try to maintain a consistently organized household by following some simple rules, like making the bed as soon as you get up, giving the bathroom counter a daily quick wipe to remove any water, hair and makeup after you finish getting ready for the day, and cleaning as you go when cooking.

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