We've all been there: A friend just called to say she's swinging by, and you only have 15 minutes to transform your "lived-in house" (read: disaster zone) into something presentable. You scramble to get things in order, but it's all too overwhelming, and you end up frazzled and stressed, and with a messy house to boot. Never fear. These handy items will bring your home to order in minutes, so you're ready for any surprise visitor.
They're a pretty way to store everything from mail and magazines to toys and tools. Labeling baskets with hanging tags — with either family members' names or the types of items they contain — can help you stay organized.
Under-Bed Storage Containers
Stowing clothes and other items in the empty space below your bed is a simple way to get them out of sight. In rooms without enough space for a laundry hamper, they can serve as a tucked-away spot for dirty laundry.
Disposable Cleaning Wipes
Pre-moistened cleaning wipes are great for quickly wiping down your kitchen and bath fixtures and countertops. It's also smart to use anti-bacterial ones on doorknobs and frequently touched surfaces when someone in your household has been sick.
Dusting has to be one of the most detested cleaning tasks. But disposable dusters make it much easier than it used to be. As a quick fix, concentrate your dusting in the room where you anticipate spending the most time with your guests.
Sticky Lint Roller
Anything upholstered can seem like a magnet for lint and pet hair. Luckily, you can make your couch, chairs, and pillows look like new using lint rollers with sticky contact paper. You can also use lint rollers to de-lint your bath mats and towels. Extra-wide lint rollers and rollers on a long handle (like a broom) are even available these days. This is a task that's fun and easy for the kids. So while you're straightening up, put them to work!
Have an icky stain on your sofa? In a pinch, you could flip the cushion, but if that's not an option, toss a pretty blanket over the unsightly spot. Neatly-folded blankets and throws also make a nice cover for decorative baskets filled with clutter that you haven't had time to sort yet.
Multipurpose storage ottomans have become a favorite decorative accessory among busy moms. They're a nice place to stow everything from extra pillows to children's toys — and to put your feet up at the end of a long day.
Kids' Play Tent
Let me guess — your child is not a neat freak. Very few kids are! If her chores have been slipping and her room or play area looks like a disaster area, it may be time to invest in a play tent. From the outside it will always look cute — even if it contains a tornado of toys, books, and stuffed animals.
Dust Pan and Brush
Ahh, dust bunnies. Even the cleanest homes can get them. Most visitors won't be closely inspecting your carpets and floors, so focus your turbo-cleaning efforts on sweeping up noticeable dust bunnies and piles of crumbs using a simple dust pan and brush or broom.
Room Deodorizer/Linen Spray
A spritz or two of a nice room spray or fabric spray — whether it's Febreze, Lysol, or something fancier — will add to the sense of a clean house. It's the easiest cleaning task of all!
Lamps and Candles
Harsh overhead lighting can highlight messes, so switch to "low lighting" — table lamps and floor lamps — for a more subtle, cozy feel. Some flickering candles can also help you "fake" the clean vibe in a snap.