Whether it’s a last minute the-guests-are-coming-over quick clean up or it’s a part of your everyday cleaning and tidying routine, mastering the 10 minute tidy up will help you keep your home organized – or take it from chaos to presentable – in 10 minutes tops.

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The Difference Between Cleaning the 10-Minute Tidy

There’s a big difference between tidying and cleaning. A 10-minute tidy up before guests arrive is no time to focus on cleaning (unless there’s extra time, then wiping down the coffee table or cleaning the countertops is never a bad idea). Cleaning is the act of removing dirt, grime, and dust. Tidying is quickly organizing and straightening a room up.

With a ten minute tidy, you won’t want to focus on one task at a time, but rather doing many tasks at once; as you gather misplaced items into your laundry hamper to bring to their home carry your dusting rag with you and quickly wipe down surfaces as you pass by; at the same time be straightening items on shelves and elsewhere and putting any garbage you come across into the trash bag you have with you.

Getting Ready: How to do a 10 minute tidy up: 5 tips to help you master the art

  • Decide what needs to be cleaned the most. If the reason for your ten minute tidy up is that guests are dropping by any minute, this isn’t the time for a whole-house deep clean. Figure out what rooms and areas of the house your guests will see (entryway, living room, bathroom, kitchen, etc.) and focus on tidying up those rooms. Don’t worry about the rest of the house. You can tackle that later. 
  • Multitask; don’t task focus. Instead of focusing on one task at a time (dusting surfaces), do many tasks at one time. While you’re dusting, straighten items, gather misplaced items into an empty laundry hamper, and carry a garbage bag with you to collect trash. 
  • Presentable, not perfect. Don’t worry about making your house look perfect; no one expects a perfect house, and if they do that’s their problem. Instead, make your house presentable. It is lived in, after all. No one expects it to look like a show home.
  • Focus on eye level. Tidy up things at eye level; the most obvious places in your home. Leave the not so obvious places for another time.
  • Get rid of distractions. Whether that be the TV, your phone, the kids, or something else. Make sure everything that could be a distraction is dealt with before you start so that once you start, you can just go. Put on a movie for the kids, put the phone away, turn off the TV, etc.

10 Minute Tidy Up Supply List

– a damp dusting cloth (I use these ones since they clean with just water, no cleaner!)
– a trash bag (for any garbage lying around)
– an empty laundry hamper (to collect out of place items and hide them to deal with later. Make sure you deal with them later)

How to do a 10 Minute Tidy Up

Finally, here’s how to do a quick and effective 10 minute tidy up.

1. Set a timer for 10 minutes (this step is optional)

2. Gather misplaced items that belong somewhere else in the house into an empty laundry hamper to deal with later (then hide the hamper somewhere that guests won’t come across it; the master bedroom or somewhere else hidden)

3. Put any garbage into the trash bag

4. Dust surfaces

5. Fluff pillows, fold throw blankets

6. Floors (vacuum if there’s time. If not a quick sweep and a spot mop will suffice)

*Try to do as much stuff at one time as possible; while walking around with your laundry hamper, simultaneously dusting surfaces and also putting garbage in the trash bag. Your goal should be to only have to be in one area once. (ie. don’t go around a room once collecting misplaced items then go back around the room again to dust surfaces and then again to straight shelves. Instead, make one trip around the room and get everything done in one pass.)*

How to Keep Your House Presentable Every Day

Maybe you know how to do the 10-minute tidy up, but you struggle to remind yourself to clean every day. Here are some tips to help:

  • Set a daily timer. Have a timer go off at a specific time of day every day that reminds you to spend 10 minutes tidying up the house.
  • Be consistent; if the timer method isn’t your favorite, try setting a routine of doing your 10-minute tidy at a certain time each night, maybe it’s at 9 pm right before you go to bed, maybe it’s after you brush your teeth, maybe it’s right before the kids go to bed. It doesn’t matter so much when you do it, but that you do it.
  • Get in the habit of a before-bed tidy. Get any last-minute tasks done quickly before bed: dishes, laundry on the floor, toys that haven’t been picked up, wiping the table, sweeping the kitchen floor, etc.

How much can you get done in 10 minutes? You won’t know until you try

Looking for more house cleaning tips and tricks? Find our whole cleaning collective, here.

how to do a ten minute tidy up like a pro