1-Hour Cleaning Tips for a Party-Ready House

If you've run out of time and you can't hire a magical maid to make the dirt disappear, explore these cleaning tips for a house that's party-ready in a flash. In just one hour, you can make your house presentable for guests. Check out this crash course in housecleaning.


You can be proud to open your doors to party guests -- even when your preparation time runs out before your usual cleaning routine is complete.

Ideally, you will have scheduled plenty of time to clean all the nooks and crannies, organize clutter, and scrub each room until it's gleaming. Unfortunately, life doesn't always present you with ideal situations. When guests are scheduled to arrive in just an hour or two, pay attention to the spaces most central to your party.

Organize your cleaning plan, and don't linger on any single cleaning chore. Remember, this isn't a deep clean. Hit the important areas, clean only what you must, and move on.

Quick action can make you the hostess who impresses -- even under pressure. When preparing for a party, every home has different priorities. Customize this preparty cleaning plan to suit your home and entertaining space.

Start by reviewing the condition of these guest-focused party locales:

Scan the areas quickly to identify immediate problems. Then follow the recommendations on the next page to get your house party-ready in a flash.

Editor's Tip: Make your one-hour preparty cleanup even easier. Review our 1-Hour Quick-Clean Checklist, available below, to make sure you don't overlook a messy spot, and guests will never know you did all your cleaning in an hour.

Get our 1-Hour Quick-Clean Checklist.

Organize your cleaning blitz to get the most benefit in the least time. Don't fret about imperfections. Whisk away the messes that guests notice.

Start at the front door. It's the first thing guests will see. Make a good first impression in just minutes.

  • Do a quick sweep of the front porch, steps, and outside entryway. It doesn't need to be immaculate; sweeping away dust and debris immediately freshens the space.
  • Brush away cobwebs. Pesky cobwebs go unnoticed until guests arrive. Then, they're suddenly taunting you. While you have the broom in hand, pass it through corners and beside railings to eliminate unwanted webs.
  • Clean the glass in your front door. Bright, clear glass free of smudges, fingerprints, and grime brightens your entry and lets a welcoming glow shine through.

Banish clutter. Your everyday, lived-in look is not conducive to mingling. Clear spaces and open tabletops will help guests see you as organized and ready to entertain.

Refresh the bathrooms. Away from the buzz of the party, guests will form impressions of your home. A sparkling bath or powder room shows off your attention to comfort and cleanliness.

  • Wipe down any obvious dirty areas in the bath using household cleaner and paper towels. Give the faucet a quick swipe to make it sparkle.
  • Apply toilet cleaner to toilets and give them a quick brushing.
  • Use a damp towel to wipe the floor.
  • Clean the mirrors. Shiny surfaces, free of water spots and smudges, leave guests feeling fresh.
  • Clear the counters of clutter. If you have no other place to store toiletries and everyday essentials, tuck them in a basket and hide the basket. A tub with a decorative shower curtain is a possible hiding spot, but guests have been known to peek.
  • Replace hand towels with fresh ones, and set out fresh hand soap. If you're using a liquid soap dispenser, make sure it's full. Also, wipe off the outside and the pump.

Pay attention to floors. In the areas guests will be mingling, make sure floors are clean and traffic can move freely.

  • Vacuum high-traffic areas.
  • Use a dust mop on hard-surface floors.

After you've refreshed the first-impression spaces, move on to the areas where guests will spend the most time during your party. Use the cleaning tips on the next page to create shipshape kitchen and public spaces for your party guests.

Your kitchen and living area will be buzzing with activity. Put a shine on the areas where guests will linger.

Address kitchen priorities. Deep-cleaning the kitchen could eat up most of a day. When you'll be welcoming guests within the hour, clear the area to ready it for any party-food preparation.

  • Discard leftovers or expired food in the refrigerator.
  • Place large containers, such as milk jugs, and nonessential items at the back of the refrigerator to make way for party food and beverages.
  • Use household cleaner and paper towels to give countertops a fresh sparkle.

Dump the trash. It sounds basic, but emptying trash containers is a quick way to make everything look fresher.

  • Scan the house for trash and gather it up.
  • Empty the trash receptacles throughout the house, including those in the kitchen, powder rooms, living areas, and semipublic spaces, such as the den, office, and playroom, where guests might wander.
  • Line the containers with clean liners.
  • Give containers a spritz of air freshener or disinfectant, if you have it on hand, for an added freshness boost.
  • Move the filled trash bags to garbage cans or other exterior containers. Make sure you get the trash not only out of sight but also completely out of the house. It ensures no one will trip over trash, and you don't have to worry about a less-than-fresh smell.

Stage the party area. Quick touches will have your home ready to welcome guests.

  • Straighten and fluff sofa pillows.
  • Fold throws and other accessories or put them away.
  • Arrange stacks of magazines and books neatly.
  • Make room in your coat closet for guests' outerwear. For a fast fix-up, gather scarves, gloves, boots, and other accessories into a laundry basket; hide the basket in a bedroom closet or the garage until after the party. Also, consider moving some of your family's outerwear to a more private spot until guests have left.
  • Light scented candles. The flickering flame is appealing, and the wafting aroma is a pleasing party addition. If readily available, fresh flowers also brighten a party setting.

Being organized and efficient about your cleaning plan is the first step. Address the areas that matter most to you, and welcome guests with a sparkle in your attitude.

Editor's Tip: When you have more time to prepare for guests, include cleaning on your party-planning to-do list. Use our 7-Day Housecleaning Plan, available below, to get your home in shape with a short time investment in the days before your party.

Get our 7-Day "One Day at a Time" Housecleaning Plan.

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