Interior Cleaning

31 Ways to Fake a Clean House

Use these 31 cleaning shortcuts to turn the grimiest estate into a prime estate in minutes.

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Fake It 'Til You Make It

Nobody wants to live in a house with clutter and messes in every room, but sometimes there just isn’t enough time or energy in the day to tackle these chores. However, the longer you put it off the harder it is to eventually start tidying. Put these tricks to work he next time you feel overwhelmed by cleaning. You can instantly make your home appear neater, and it makes it easier to thoroughly clean and organize later. 

Inviting Space

Stop fumbling in the foyer with a mess of shoes, umbrellas, and magazines. Instead, tuck them into cloth baskets or woven bins (like these from Target) placed behind the front door. Use a handheld vacuum to usher away dust and other uninvited guests from the entryway. 

Related: 17 Design Inspirations for Mudrooms and Entryways

Hamper Scamper

No time to tidy up? Convert an off-duty laundry hamper into a receptacle for stashing loose personal effects, books, and supplies. When the party’s over, give the stowaways a lift back to their respective cabinets, shelves, and desks.

Related: 10 Simply Genius Ideas for Laundry Room Storage

Couch Potatoes

You don’t have to do the time for the crime of snacking on a microfiber couch and leaving behind dry food debris and fingerprints. Use a handheld brush to gently massage away offending grit.

Related: How To: Clean a Microfiber Suede Sofa

Chaise Down

Give your sofas stylish arm candy with decorative baskets that hold wandering books, magazines, and toys. Place the storage containers at the far end of the sofa to bring focus to the conversation, not the clutter.

Related: 10 Storage Containers You Need After Tidying Up

Fluffed Up

Transform homely sofas into decorative focal points by fluffing up flattened pillows and arranging them over any visible upholstery stains. Alternatively, flip battered couch cushions to reveal their good side.

Related: 12 “Zero Dollar” Decorating Hacks

Dust Buster

A microfiber cloth (like these from Amazon) works wonders in the dusty microcosm of the living room. Run the cloth over the television screen, coffee table, and end tables to achieve pristine surfaces untouched by time.

Related: 15 Remarkably Easy Ways to Create a Dust-Free Home

Disappearing Dishes

It takes just minutes and elbow grease to rid your kitchen of grease and grime. Give soiled dishes a quick bath in soapy water before hiding them in the dishwasher or unused stock pots. Wipe down counter surfaces and close cupboards for a gleaming galley. Then, leave the rest of the cleaning until the guests leave.

Related: 7 Tips for Quick and Easy Cleanup After Dinner

Vanity Sanity

Counter clutter on the bathroom counter by organizing it in underlying cabinets outfitted with toiletry holders. Put a Lazy Susan (like this one from Amazon) to work to hold makeup and shampoo bottles, and stack towels and toilet rolls in baskets.

Related: The 12 Best Buys for Your Tiny Bathroom

Well-groomed Workroom

Transform a haphazard home office into a study on cleanliness by scrapping expired post-it notes and to-do lists. Shelter homeless supplies and trinkets in attractive stationary containers placed atop your desk or beneath the keyboard.

Related: 14 Ways to Make Your Home Office Work Better for You

Toy Ploy

Between scattered stuffed animals, blocks, and puzzle pieces, cleaning the kid’s room can be a puzzle. Corral loose game pieces in drawers and bag toys in unused pillowcases. Lastly, give unruly books and board games a timeout in a neat pile in the corner.

Related: 15 DIY Storage Ideas to Help Corral Your Kids’ Clutter

Dirty Secret

Lighten the load of cleaning the laundry room by temporarily gathering dirty garments in the washing machine, where your cleaning secret will be kept safe. Then, put away any clean, lingering linens in the bedroom to sort later.

Related: 8 Things You Need If You Hate Doing Laundry

Clean Sweep

Sweep—don’t mop—dry mud, debris, and pet hair off the floor, out of the door, and out of mind. Reserve your hardworking mop for spot-cleaning wet mud or visible food stains on hard floors.

Related: The Best Brooms for Household Chores

Smelt Dealt

Notify your fireplace that the guests have arrived by sprinkling tea leaves or coffee grounds inside. This will keep rising dust at bay and diffuse the scent of stale embers so that visitors will want to warm their hands around the hearth all winter.

Related: How To: Clean a Fireplace

Aromatic Accents

Banish everyday odors and make a fresh start by lighting a candle in your favorite scent. Candles naturally eradicate unsavory scents without help from harsh chemical cleaners.

Related: Clear the Air—10 Natural Ways to Cure Household Odors

Slick Move

Are your bathroom countertops, sinks, or faucets bathing in grime, soap scum, or dried toothpaste? For bathroom surfaces so shiny your guests can see their reflections, grab a wet wipe or a soft cloth saturated with homemade all-purpose cleaner and make a few quick, unidirectional swipes over them to disinfect and de-grunge them in a hurry.

Related: 9 Top Tips for a Bathroom That Cleans Itself

Gleaming Glass

Having a hard time making out your reflection? Spray down crud-covered mirrors with a store-bought mirror cleaner like Windex, and then enlist a soft cloth to wipe makeup smudges, fingerprints, and water stains away with minimal elbow grease.

Related: 3 Fixes for a Streaky Mirror

Closed-Curtain Policy

Bath toys and supplies from rubber ducks to shampoo rinse cups sure make bath time fly by, but they only add to the disarray of the washroom when they’re stashed on countertops afterward. If your guests won’t be using the shower during their stay, temporarily store these items in a shower and then draw the curtain shut to keep them out of sight.

Related: The Best Ways to Update a Bathroom for Only $20

All Fluff

Transform your bathroom from shabby to hotel-quality by swapping limp, lifeless bath and hand towels on towel racks for fresh, fluffy towels. Fold and hang the towels at the center of the rack for a tidy touch. While you’re at it, replace that half-used toilet paper roll with a full roll to make the bathroom guest-ready.

Related: The Right Way to Wash Your Towels

Robe Ruse

There’s no need to make a mad dash for the dryer to deal with damp bath towels. If a sopping towel still hangs on a hook in the bathroom from your last shower, simply grab a clean and fluffy bathrobe and hang it up on the same hook to hide the towel and lend the space spa-like style.

Related: The 30 Best Storage Ideas for When You Have No More Floor Space

Furniture Fix

André François McKenzie on Unsplash

Can’t put your finger on why your living or family room looks off kilter? Furniture and other essentials might have budged from their usual parking spots, while other items might have started piling up. Restore order in the blink of an eye by straightening sofas, ottomans, pillows, and rugs; returning remote controls to their perch on a table; putting books back to the bookshelf; and recycling the magazines and newspapers that you’re no longer reading. For an extra measure, run the vacuum through for that fresh carpet look.

Related: 14 Clever Layout Tricks to Maximize Your Living Space

Straightened Out

Arranging items in a linear layout lends a sense of symmetry to any living quarters. So neatly stack those spread-out magazines and newspapers on the coffee table, corral loose mail in a tidy pile on an end table, and store books on shelves so that the spines line up. You’ll cut the visual clutter in seconds.

Related: 7 Ways to Declutter Without Throwing Anything Away

Ring Resolution

Skipped the coaster during your last coffee break? Banish that unsightly condensation ring on your wooden coffee table or end table by applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly over it and letting it dwell overnight. In the morning, use a soft cloth to wipe away the jelly—and the stain with it!

Related: How To: Remove Water Stains from Wood

Folded Comforts

Blankets and throws are often the first accents to fall by the wayside after a night spent lounging on the couch, usually winding up in a crumpled heap on the sofa or the floor. Rather than leaving them there and creating an eyesore, or stashing them behind the sofa or in a hamper, where they’re bound to get more crinkled, fold them and drape them on the arm of the sofa for an elegant, bohemian-chic effect.

Related: The Best Blankets You Can Buy Online

Restored Rug

Whether they live in the entryway or the living room, rugs lose their luxury looks when they collect dust, dirt, hair, and whatever else you dragged in from the outdoors over time. Rid a soiled rug of these remnants—and fluff up its fibers—in a rush by hanging it on an outdoor clothesline and gently beating it by hand or with a bona fide rug beater before returning it to its original position.

Related: How To: Clean an Area Rug

Hairy Situation

Pet hair on the sofa will almost certainly be transferred to your guests’ garb when they sit down. To keep their finery free of Fido’s shedding without a lint roller, don an old-fashioned rubber glove, wet the fingertips with water, and then make a quick pass with your gloved hand over the sofa. The wet rubber will pick up any lingering hair or lint.

Related: 15 Things Every Pet Owner Needs for a Clean House

Sparkling Side Up

If the doorbell rings just as you spot a glaring food stain on a decorative kitchen towel, it’s no doubt too late to throw it in the washer. Try this stain-lifting hack instead: Fold the towel in half lengthwise and hang it from the oven handle with the clean side facing you—your guests will be none the wiser to the stain on the other side!

Related: 10 Corners of Your Kitchen You’re Forgetting to Clean

Discreet Desk

When company arrives, it’s well past time to put work away in the home office. Stow your keyboard, mouse, and any other peripheral equipment in desk drawers, leaving only the monitor behind for a clutter-free atmosphere.

Related: 30 Ways to Get Organized for $5 or Less

Tent Trick

Who knew? A play tent is a great place for both kids and adults to play pretend. When little ones aren’t using it to fuel their imaginations, parents can stow loose toys and games inside the tent and then zip up the opening to manufacture a pristine playroom in minutes.

Related: The 21 Sneakiest Storage Spots We’ve Ever Seen

Diaper Deodorizer

Do you have to turn your nose up at the ceiling every time you enter the nursery? The diaper pail may be to blame. Before the guests knock, spritz a little deodorizing spray in the vicinity of the diaper pail to avoid the dreaded question, “What is that smell?”

Related: 11 Super Simple Ways to Make Your House Smell Fresh

Pajama Dilemma

Giving your guests the grand tour of your house? You’ll want to make those loose pajamas lying on your bed disappear pronto. And what better place to temporarily stash them than under your pillow? Fold up lightweight pajama tops and bottoms and slip them underneath a pillow on your bed for a spotless sleep sanctuary and easy retrieval of your nightwear at bedtime.

Related: The Best Furniture You Can Buy for Extra Storage

Blind Item

Visitors will be blind to the dirt on the topside of your blinds if you simply turn them up to display the tidier underside. Then, pull soiled curtain panels closed to instantly revitalize aging windows.

Related: 15 Unusual Tips for Your Cleanest Windows Ever

Tidying Up Tricks

Whether you don’t have the time or the energy to clean the house, you can still make it look tidy with these tips and tricks.