The Last-Minute Party Cleaning Plan: How To Clean Up for Guests in 20 Minutes

Gatherings From The Kitchn

Pin it button big

I knew hosting my board game night gathering on a Friday meant that I needed some quick ideas and tricks to make my apartment at least appear clean and put together. After all, an unkempt apartment shouldn't keep you from spontaneous entertaining!

This guide to a guest-ready home requires that your place isn't in total disarray: I can't help you if your living room needs serious deep-cleaning. But if you (like me) are reasonably neat but too busy to tidy until just before guests arrive, here's your last-minute cleaning plan.

Don't freak out! You can, in fact, make your apartment guest-ready in just 20 minutes.

Pin it button big

Pin it button big

Step 1: Put away (i.e. hide) all the stuff that doesn't belong in the room where you'll be entertaining.

Whether that involves stuffing coats in a closet or putting the bag of chips back nicely where it should go, you should get all the stuff that doesn't belong in the room you're entertaining out of there.

  • Estimated Time: 4 Minutes
Pin it button big

Step 2: Do a quick sweep.

Do a quick sweep of the floors so that if people take their shoes off their socks don't get gross.

  • Estimated Time: 4 Minutes
Pin it button big

Step 3: Wipe down prominent surfaces.

Anything your guests will be interacting with or sitting next to should be dusted and wiped down.

  • Estimated Time: 3 Minutes
Pin it button big

Step 4: Spray something that smells nice so it seems like you've cleaned more than you actually have.

This might be the most important trick of all! Spray your furniture with something that smells like you cleaned more than you actually did. I love this Black Coriander Lime linen and room spray from Caldrea. It has just the right amount of smell good-to-clean ratio.

  • Estimated Time: 30 Seconds
Pin it button big

Step 5: Turn on "mood lighting" to hide any gross corners in your apartment.

Turn off the stark, overbearing ceiling lights and add some interesting light. I turned on my arc lamp, added some string lights, and lit a couple candles around my apartment. Not only does this create a cozy atmosphere, but it will also help cover up any subtle furniture stains or marks on the walls.

  • Estimated Time: 3 Minutes, 30 Seconds

Pin it button big

Step 6: Use pops of bright color to emphasize the best parts of the room.

Adding a couple bright colored things in a boring or dark room really makes things more lively and fun. Invest in a couple pieces that you can easily add to a room when guests are coming over. I choose a colorful tablecloth and a couple matching floor pillows to brighten up the table (where we had dinner) and the living room (where we played games).

  • Estimated Time: 3 Minutes
Pin it button big

Step 7: Light a candle in the bathroom and hang a fresh hand towel.

Adding a nice smelling candle and changing the hand towel shows just the right attention to detail.

  • Estimated Time: 2 Minutes

Ta-Da! Your apartment is now ready for guests and lots of fun. Go enjoy it!

Pin it button big

(Image credits: Alexis Buryk; Alexis Buryk; Alexis Buryk)