Tidying hacks: How to tidy your home in under 20 minutes

We’ve all been at home when a guest unexpectedly says they’re dropping by and the house is a complete disaster. Fortunately, organization expert Clare Kumar has some tips and tricks up her sleeve that can help even the messiest of homes look clean in no time at all.


Instead of thinking about tidying per room, think about tidying as a whole.

  • CLEARING: Tackle cluttered spaces
  • CLEANING: Sweep and wipe surfaces
  • CARING: Preparing to make guests feel welcome


Put the obvious items like coats, shoes and bags away first. For items that don’t belong there, use a sturdy shopping bag for each person in the home to gather up items that don’t belong and take them to their rooms. 

Remove family members’ coats from hooks to make room for guests’ outerwear.

Mail and magazines often pile up near the entryway. Keep an empty magazine holder on standby to gather up magazines you’re in the midst of reading and use a napkin holder to put mail in. 



Have guest towels at the ready. A simple tip for always have welcoming guest towels on hand is to use a zippered plastic bag from a sheet set to store welcoming towels in. That way you always know that they’re ready to go. When you hear guests are coming over, wipe down the bathroom with the existing towels and throw them in the laundry hamper. Put out your welcoming guest towels

Be sure extra toilet paper is available and some scent management is on hand. I recommend providing a beeswax candle and matches (of course out of kids' way). Beeswax is non-toxic and you won't offend anyone with sensitivities to scents. 

Keep a microfiber cloth near any glass or mirrored surfaces for these show fingerprints more than any other. Baby wipes are a fantastic thing to keep on hand because they’re a great, quick cleaning option for other non-porous surfaces. 


Using the dishwasher as temporary storage is a great idea but sometimes the dishwasher is full. In that case, keep room under your sink for an empty dish pan.  Collect any unwashed glasses, dishware and utensils and tuck them away under the sink. 

Clear counters not only feel great, they provide space for food/drink when entertaining. Gather counter appliances you won’t be using like toasters and blenders and put them in a laundry basket or plastic bin and relocate to a storage area.

There’s nothing wrong with mismatched dishes but if you’re mildly embarrassed by them, just cheat – place the most similar items at the front of your cupboard and move the mismatched ones to the back. No one will ever know.


Need a quick way to make everyday clutter disappear, yet still stay handy?  Keep an empty storage ottoman available in your living area to store throws, photo albums and even a backpack.  Sturdy models also serve as extra seating as well as a stylish clutter buster. 

More and more people have multiple remotes so a good way to tidy those up is to line a basket. This was something I picked up in Japan. It’s functional and much prettier than having remotes all lined up:


If pet hair is an issue, don a rubber dish glove and wipe upholstery in small circles. The glove will loosen the hair and you can vacuum it or simply pick it off.   


If you haven’t been able to tackle the entire home, in the evening, light areas that are clean while dimming the areas that aren’t.  In the daytime, open windows as a bright home gives an impression of clean. 

Squeeze lemons into a glass to refresh the scent of a room.

If you are relaxed and not stressing about your space, you will make guests feel relaxed and can pamper them and yourself a little too. Nuts, fresh fruit and a little chocolate is all you need so keep those on hand and you’re golden!

For more from Clare, check out Streamlife.ca.

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