How To Tidy Your House Fast!

I don’t know about you, but my house never looks like something out of a magazine! I like to think I’m not messy, I’m just busy and have other priorities. But the truth is, the house is a semi-mess most of the time, no matter how busy we are. So of course, when someone calls and says they’re on their way over, it’s instant panic mode! Luckily, I have a great system in place for tidying up the house in about 20 minutes!

Now, this is no substitute for actually cleaning your house; I don’t even touch the bathrooms except to maybe rinse out the sinks if I have a few minutes left after tidying the main living rooms. But these seven steps are a great way to tidy your house fast so that company isn’t horrified when they walk in the door!

Seven easy steps to tidy your house fast! Great for when last minute company comes over!

Let me start by saying, I’m going to share real photos of our house with you today, so no judging! I’m jealous of those whose houses seem to always be immaculate, but that’s not us. I have a quick and simple routine for banishing the worst of the mess quickly so that we don’t look like college dorm room slobs anymore!

How To Tidy Your House Fast!

Here’s what our front room looked like last week. We got about ten packages delivered last week, and never unpacked them all the way, so the boxes were all over the place. Our garage is in the process of being remodeled, so some of the stuff that used to be stored in the garage had been moved into the house. JM has a horrible habit of leaving his sweaters and jackets on whatever horizontal surface is nearest when he takes them off, so there are some on the daybed, some on the table behind the sofa, one in the stroller, and even some on the bookshelves and coffee table.

And besides the large things, there were just a bunch of weird knick knacks floating around and making the space look messy!

How To Tidy Your House Fast!

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So here’s how to tidy up these spaces in just seven simple steps!

1. Gather Your Supplies

Start by getting organized. You only need a few things to go through this process, but if you have to run all over the house to find them as you need them, you’ll be wasting time! Here’s what you need:

  • a laundry basket, hamper, or large box
  • a large trash bag
  • a dust cloth
  • furniture polish (I used Pledge Lemon Clean and it’s awesome!)
  • a vacuum

2. Pick Up Trash

The first step to cleaning is to pick up any trash. Walk around with your trash bag and grab anything that can be thrown away! Don’t worry about anything else at this point; don’t sort through items or move them from room to room; just pick up everything that can be thrown away and toss it in the bag.

Leave the trash bag in a central area while you tidy up the rest of the house, in case you come across more trash that you missed the first time around.

3. Remove Anything That Doesn’t Belong

This is where the laundry basket comes in. As you walk around, if you find something that doesn’t belong in that room (like JM’s sweaters, or my craft supplies which were on the dining table) grab it and put it in the laundry basket. Bookshelves and tables are especially prone to random knick knacks, so pay special attention there!

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If you only have a few things out of place (lucky you!), you might be able to fit everything in the basket all at once. If you have lots of things out of place like we do, sort as you go. I grabbed everything that belonged in our bedroom upstairs, like the sweaters, put them in the laundry basket, took the basket upstairs, and emptied it onto our bed. Then I grabbed everything that belonged in my craft room, put it in the basket, took it upstairs, and emptied it onto my craft desk.

Remember, you’re not “cleaning”, you’re just tidying at this point. I know that when company comes over they aren’t going to be looking in our bedroom or in my craft room, so I can just dump things there and “clean” them later. The point is to tidy up the main living spaces, so don’t waste your time on the rooms that will stay behind closed doors! In fact, those rooms are great places to temporarily store some of the clutter if it really is “clutter” and it doesn’t have a permanent home yet.

4. Tidy Things That Do Belong

Some stuff does belong in your main living areas, so tidy that stuff up. Trays, baskets, and bowls are great ways to organize the small things; I use a tray on the coffee table to neaten up our remotes, and there are a few baskets on the radiator at the bottom of the stairs to organize incoming mail.

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5. Dust

This step is actually really important, and the most often overlooked! Dust make your room look a lot worse than you think it does; for such a small thing that happens to everyone, everywhere, it really makes a room look dingy and dull. A quick dusting of your horizontal surfaces will instantly revitalize the room and make it seem like you consistently keep that room clean and tidy! Make sure you dust the obvious stuff like tables and bookshelves, but also anything that has cubbies, like our media console. You don’t have to dust all the way into the cubby, but at least dust the visible parts (the front 4″-5″).

I love using Pledge Lemon Clean for dusting my furniture because it works really well, and is safe for all the furniture in our home, regardless of what it’s made of. We have a mix of solid wood and laminate furniture in our house, and Pledge Lemon Clean is safe even on laminate surfaces because it’s pH balanced, which means it cleans without clouding the surface or stripping away the finish. Plus it leaves the surface bright and shining and doesn’t have a harsh chemical smell. Our laminate sofa table wasn’t all that dusty, but it was totally dingy and dull and I didn’t even realize until after I dusted it. Now it’s bright and clean!

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6. Vacuum

After everything is tidied and dusted, the last step is to vacuum. Whether you have hardwood floors, rugs, or carpets, vacuuming refreshes the room and immediately makes it look cleaner! I actually like the faint lines that the vacuum leaves in our rugs; it just makes me feel like everything is nice and clean. 🙂

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7. Final Walk Through

Now that everything is tidy and clean, do one last walk through of the room. Grab any remaining trash, take the large trash bag out to the garbage, grab the cleaning supplies and put them away, and grab anything else that might still be out of place. And your house is company-ready!

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Yes, there are still a few things laying around that I could have picked up and put away if I’d had more time, but the point of this is to take the room from “messy college dorm” to “reasonable adult living space” in under 20 minutes!

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What does your house look like when it’s just you and your family at home? Do you have any additional tips to share to tidy up your house quickly and easily?

Want to share this tutorial with your friends? Just click any of the share buttons on the left to share with Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.!

Disclosure: I received compensation from Clever Girls Collective and Pledge in exchange for my honest discussion of their products. But I really do love Pledge Lemon Clean for cleaning my furniture and all opinions in this post are 100% my own. I would never write a post about something I didn’t think was useful or interesting for you guys, and Practically Functional will only publish sponsored posts for companies or products I love and believe in! 🙂


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Heather Foster says

    7 years ago

    I grew up in a very strict home with a mother who was a professional housekeeper. So these are all well known and used in my home. I don’t use the lemon Pledge, but I do love the Multi-surface Pledge. I only use a wood oil on my furnitur, such as Old English.

  2. linda says

    8 years ago

    nice tips. will try tonight 😀 really need to tidy my house

  3. Ruth Thomas says

    9 years ago

    So many good tips here. I’m definitely going to start using that technique you mentioned of just tossing everything into a basket and reorganizing everything later. Going to save a ton of time, especially for last minute clean ups. Thank you!

  4. Auntiepatch says

    9 years ago

    Looks great! And under 20 minutes!

  5. Sam @ DIY Just Cuz says

    9 years ago

    These are great tips! I tend to keep a pretty clean home in general but there are DEFINITELY times when things get crazy. Like you said, dusting is key (and something I often neglect). Vacuuming also make a huge difference and adds that extra “wow”. I might have to send this to my mom & dad, they’ve got 5 young kids who are always making a fast mess. Pinning!

  6. Katie says

    9 years ago

    I LOVE the idea of the laundry basket and picking up everything that doesn’t belong. It’s a perfect solution for how to clean up my craft studio. I have so much lying around that I can’t tell where to start! Every time I try to put something away I have to move more stuff out of the way and I never get anywhere. I’m definitely going to try putting the stuff in a box and THEN putting it away. Awesome post, it’s amazing how you can streamline something that seems so basic and simple.

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