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Fake a clean house on a short notice

August 26, 2012


I’m a notorious serial cleaner when it comes to housekeeping. On average I clean about as often as the full moon appears, but over the years I’ve figured out how to fake it in a moment’s notice when necessary.

Turns out, clean isn't all that hard to fake. Here’s how you can pull it off in a few easy steps:

So, you’re lolling about in your PJs, anticipating a lazy day. The phone rings and it’s your college roommate whom you haven’t seen in 25 years. She’s passing through town and wants to stop by and say hello. (Translation — She always suspected you were a bit of a slob and she wants to confirm it.)

The first step is to give her the sketchiest directions imaginable. Make sure she must stop for directions at least twice. This will give you 15 minutes to clean house and 15 minutes to put on your game face (the one you wear to public events).

The second step is to run around kitchen in a circle waving your arms for 30 seconds. This will release all tension and calm you down.

Step three — grab a big basket roughly the size of your oven. Fill it with every piece of clutter in the living area. In go magazines, your running shoes, umbrella, dirty dishes…everything. Make doubly sure you scoop up all your “old-lady” stuff like tissues, nasal spray and prescription drugs and stuff them into the box.

Now, cram the box into the oven. Just don’t forget it or you will have the fire department as your next house guests.

I try to reserve one side of my sofa cushions to be shown to guests. Quickly flip over the cushions to reveal good-as-new fabric. When she leaves, you can flip back to “slob” side. If like me you’ve forgotten to do the “company flip” just drape a colorful throw over the bad spots. Strategically placed throw pillows can also camouflage many past sins.

Step four — make up the bed — with the dog still in it if necessary. Grab a second box and swipe everything off your bedside table and dresser. Stow it in your closet.

While you’re in there, pull out your one outfit that makes you look pulled together. Put on lipstick and fluff your hair with some baby powder. Voila, instant big hair and it acts as a dry shampoo.

Step five — find the strongest smelling cleaner under your sink and wipe off the counter tops and pour some down the drain.

Take the rest of house and shove it in guest room. Dash back to kitchen table and sit casually as if you’ve just been sitting there chatting on the phone.

If your calculations are correct, she will coming up the drive about now.

“Oh, look who’s here! Come on in, I’ve just been sitting here reading the paper…”
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a blog for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement.  She welcomes comments at

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