The Emergency Cleaning Checklist

updated: 24/12/2023

You’ve been having a bad week cleaningwise, and the place is a mess, or else you have busy children who seem to strew toys and other belongings around the house.  And you’ve just had a phone call to say that your mother, mother-in-law or the boss is coming around within the next hour. You could panic and decide that the best thing to do is meet the visitor at the door and whisk them off to the nearest café so you don’t have to tidy up.  Or you could try the emergency pickup method.

Emergency Cleaning Tasks

1. Throw a cleaning product into the toilet bowl and leave it to sit for twenty minutes. Proprietary cleaning products can work, but fizzy aspirins or even Coke® works wonders.

2. Dump any stray items (books, toys, discarded clothing, newspapers, etc.) on the floors, benches or sofa into a basket and pop this into a corner or somewhere out of sight, like a bedroom.  Only concentrate on rooms your visitor is going to be seeing, which include the living room, the dining room, the toilet and/or bathroom, hallways and possibly the kitchen.

3. Vacuum. This always makes any room look well-kept. However, don’t bother vacuuming underneath furniture.

4. Quickly scrub out the toilet and flush.  Put out a fresh roll of toilet paper.

5. Give the bathroom sink a quick once-over wipe with a damp flannel to remove soap and toothpaste smears.  Make sure a reasonably fat cake of soap is in the dish and quickly change the hand towel.

6. Put on some coffee to brew so the smell greets your visitor. Also, get some nibbles ready for your guest.

7. Make sure that you are presentable – comb your hair, apply lipstick or cologne, etc.

8. Dust anything obviously needing it if you have a few minutes to spare.

9. Greet your visitor immediately with a smile and the offer of a hot drink as soon as they get through the door. Sparkling conversation and food will keep them focused on you rather than what the house looks like.

If you have slightly more time, do the following:

1. Wash the dishes

2. Put out fresh flowers – these always make a house look well-kept and welcoming

3. Change the tablecloth

4. Empty rubbish bins if they need it

5. Straighten sofa cushions

6. Put away the stray items collected in Step 2 of the basic list.
When preparing to make an unexpected visitor welcome, there are certain things you don’t have to worry about.

Optional Tasks

You can safely ignore the following unless they’re really, really obviously in-your-face messy.

1. Dusting houseplants.

2. Scrubbing the bath.  They won’t be using it, so if you have a shower curtain or similar, pull this across “to air it out” and hide offending items such as grey rings and razors.

3. Making beds.  Just shut the bedroom door!

4. Doing laundry.  So your dirty laundry basket is full?  With any luck, they won’t see it.  If they do, they probably won’t be shocked, as everybody has large amounts of laundry.

5. Cleaning windows.  If the visit is in the evening, close the curtains.
If you work from home and the boss or a client is calling for business reasons, then only clean your office area, plus put on the coffee.  If you have plenty of work to show your business visitors, this will impress them more than a spotless home.  After all, the boss doesn’t want to think that you’re putting all your time into housework when you should be balancing the books or preparing a report.

Unexpected visitors need not send you into a frenzy. With the right emergency cleaning checklist in hand, you can swiftly transform your space into a welcoming environment. Remember, the key is to focus on the areas your guest will see and to prioritize tasks that make the most significant impact. While a spotless home can leave a lasting impression, genuine warmth and hospitality will always be the most memorable. So, the next time you receive that surprise call, take a deep breath, follow the steps, and greet your guests with confidence and grace.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.