Let’s just go ahead and admit it, our houses do not look like Better Homes and Gardens. If you’ve got kids, your house is lived in, and most likely looks like it. While we would like to have a cleaner house, and the time to actually CLEAN it, sometimes you just gotta get into crisis mode. (See 10 steps to clean your house fast)

Maybe a friend calls and says they are close by and can they stop by.  Or maybe you’ve been slammed with work and the kids and ladies bible study is at your house tonight. Or maybe you’ve had the flu and the place is a mess and driving you nuts, but you aren’t quite well enough to really clean.

down and dirty clean up

The down-and-dirty quick clean up

You need 2 tools for this process. You could also have some helpers if available.

1. A garbage bag

2. A laundry basket (or cardboard box)

Enter the room with a vengeance. Quickly pick up any trash, papers, etc that can obviously be thrown away. This is not the time to go through the pile of mail. It should be a quick sweep, without any agonizing or thinking.

The second step is to put anything that belongs in another place in the house into the laundry basket. Pile it in.

Move to each room that desperately needs this approach, and repeat the 2 steps, getting new garbage bags or baskets, if needed.

After completing this sweep, each room should be remotely neat and clean, and somewhat presentable.

When finished with your sweep, dispose of the garbage, and find a place to hide the baskets (this is the part that some of you perfectionists might have a problem with). I’m serious. This was a crisis clean-up, so now it not the time to make sure that everything is in its place. (To help with this in the future read: How to magically make your house cleaner)

The house is decently picked up and you can let out a sigh of relief before your guests arrive, or maybe sink back into the couch to continue recuperating. 

What to do with the baskets?

Obviously, the baskets are a temporary solution. If someone needs to know where their ________ is, you can point them to the basket. You will need to, at some point, empty out the basket and put things away.

A couple of suggestions for this process:

1. Sort everything into piles belonging to different members of the family. Have each family member retrieve and put away their own belongings.

2. Sort by which room of the house the item belongs in. Then put each pile away, again, recruit others to help if possible, even if it is your 3 year old. They are never too young to learn! (Read: Teaching kids to do their fair share)