Have you even been in a situation where you are comfortably snuggled up with a good book after a hard day’s work and you just want this quiet afternoon to last forever?

You have all you need – your new favourite book, your couch and a glass of wine. Then the phone rings and it’s your mother-in-law on her way to visit you. So much for staying in your pyjamas for the rest of the day.

“I don’t care what my guests will think”, said no housewife ever and similarly to numerous other women, you start to feel a little sweaty when panic sets in.

You know that if there is one person who is capable of assuming that you are ruining your husband’s life, because there are dirty dishes in the sink and smudges on the bathroom mirror, this is definitely your “other” mum.

Don’t let anyone think any less of you as a wife, mother and a host and get ready for a quickie. Cleaning, that is.

Do a quick calculation and see how much time do you have before anyone arrives. Most times 40 minutes is all you need to put everything in order.

Take a good look around yourself. What is the single most embarrassing thing you wouldn’t want anyone to see? Deal with that first and you will feel how the pressure is literally lifted. Is it the state of the couch, or the mess in the corridor? Roll up your sleeves, it’s not going to clean itself.

Now that you have sorted that out, think about the rest of the home.  Divide tasks by their importance to you and the time it takes to complete them.

For instance, it takes a lot longer to vacuum clean the floors, while you can do three other things in the mean time. Think whether what you want to do is actually relevant. No need to make up your bed, right?

However, skipping the bathroom is a no-no! There is no denying entrance there.

Here is a list of different relevant tasks and how much time approximately takes to complete them:


  1. Put the dishes in the dishwasher: 5 mins
  2. Wash them by hand: 20 mins (depends)
  3. Wipe kitchen surfaces: 5 mins
  4. Throw rubbish bin: 5 mins
  5. Prepare kettle, coffee machine: 5 mins

Living Room:

  1. De-clutter coffee table, sort out magazines, wipe it clean: 5 mins
  2. Vacuum the living room and hall: 10 mins
  3. Put away toys and dust: 7 mins
  4. Open windows and fluff pillows and cushions: 2-3 mins


  1. Wipe toilet, sink and bathtub: 5-7 mins
  2. Check if there is enough soap, toilet paper and need of new hand towel: 2-3 mins
  3. Wipe mirror and de-clutter: 5 mins

Here is how to avoid getting caught in future. Make sure you do a little and often.

Hopefully, you won’t have to do all these things at once and you will have some time to slip in a nice dress, fix your hair and make-up a bit and add some snacks on the table.

If you want to be better prepared it is useful to do a little and often everyday. Have a schedule similar to this one and tailor it to your needs and lifestyle.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • Great tips on speed cleaning. Just wanted to add that I hate the surprise visit. A phone call at least half an hour earlier is just common courtesy and gives you that bit of time to sort yourself out.


  • No quickie cleaning here. My guests should be coming to see me and my family not how clean my house is


  • I get so much more done with less time … why is that?


  • My mother inlaw was always welcome at our home and i never worried about her judging me or my home. I was very lucky….we never had a bad work between us and I miss her something terrible.


  • I like the idea of starting with the one thing you would be most embarrassed by. I also like to light a scented candle as it sends a lovely welcoming fragrance through the home. Makes it seem like you’ve gone to more trouble too!


  • Good advice. I the no I might do a clean up now!


  • I try to keep on top of the housework but it can easily get messy again. I’m definitely guilty of speed cleaning if people come over but we also get some people that don’t bother giving us any notification that they intend to visit and just show up, usually when we already have people over or I really don’t feel like visitors.


  • yeah i don’t get a phone call, the m-i-l just turns up….sucks


  • Yes, I would rather be relaxed when someone comes, then a hot sweaty mess because you have had a mad cleaning dash. I am usually somewhere in the middle of the two!


  • Good tips thanks for sharing these handy hints


  • ooh boy done this a few dozen times


  • good tips with the scheduling but don’t make your life revolve around a clean house.


  • This sounds so simple, how come I can’t do it and get organised, I would love to be able to do this everyday but I am hampered by adult children at every turn, when I learn how to remove a couple of 26 year old men I may be better off and able to keep the house perfect. up til then I will have to suffer.


  • This lady is very wise. If you keep your place up to scratch and even do a little each day you dont get caught. My darling mum used to say if the beds are made, floor swept and dishes are washed you are almost there. Always make sure the toilets are sparkling clean!


  • I’m never too worried when guests come over. I live in my home. It’s not a display suite.


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