Thirty Minutes to a Cleaner House

You have company arriving in 30 minutes. Your house is a mess. WHAT WILL YOU DO?

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first session of Housekeeping Tips for Regular People. If you’re a Martha Stewart type of housekeeper, this column is NOT for you.

However, for the rest of you, this is your chance to learn 15 Secret Shortcuts to Good Housekeeping that your mother never told you.

  • Secret Tip 1: Door Locks
    If a room clearly can’t be whipped into shape in 30 days–much less 30 minutes–employ the Locked Door Method of cleaning. Tell anyone who tries to go in the room that the door is intentionally locked.

    CAUTION: It is not advisable to use this tip for the bathroom.
    Time: 2 seconds

  • Secret Tip 2: Duct Tape
    No home should be without an ample supply. Not only is it handy for plumbing repairs, but it’s a great way to hem drapes, tablecloths, clothes, just about anything. No muss, no fuss.
    Time: 2-3 minutes
  • Secret Tip 3: Ovens
    If you think ovens are just for baking, think again. Ovens represent at least 9 cubic feet of hidden storage space, which means they’re a great place to shove dirty dishes, dirty clothes, or just about anything you want to get out of sight when company’s coming.
    Time: 2 minutes
  • Secret Tip 4: Clothes Dryers
    Like Secret Tip 3, except bigger. CAUTION: Avoid hiding flammable objects here.
    Time: 2.5 minutes
  • Secret Tip 5: Washing Machines and Freezers
    Like Secret Tip 4, except even bigger.
    Time: 3 minutes
  • Secret Tip 6: Dust Ruffles
    No bed should be without one. Devotees of Martha Stewart believe dust ruffles exist to keep dust out from under a bed or to help coordinate the colorful look of a bedroom. The rest of us know a dust ruffle’s highest and best use is to hide whatever you’ve managed to shove under the bed. (Refer to Secret Tips 3, 4, 5.)
    Time: 4 minutes
  • Secret Tip 7: Dusting
    The 30-Minutes-To-A-Clean-House method says: Never dust under what you can dust around.
    Time: 3 minutes
  • Secret Tip 8: Dishes
    Don’t use them. Use plastic or paper and you won’t have to.
    Time: 1 minute
  • Secret Tip 9: Clothes Washing (EEWWW)
    This secret tip is brought to you by an inventive teenager. When this teen’s mother went on a housekeeping strike for a month, the teen discovered you can extend the life of your underwear by two …if you turn it wrong side out and, yes, rerun it.

    CAUTION: This tip is recommended only for teens and those who don’t care if they get in a car wreck.

    Time: 3 seconds

  • Secret Tip 10: Ironing
    If an article of clothing doesn’t require a full press and your hair does, a curling iron is the answer. In between curling your hair, use the hot wand to iron minor wrinkles out of your clothes. Yes, it really does work, or so I’m told, by other disciples of the 30-Minutes-To-A-Clean-House philosophy.
    Time: 5 minutes (including curling your hair)
  • Secret Tip 11: Vacuuming
    Stick to the middle of the room, which is the only place people look. Don’t bother vacuuming under furniture. It takes way too long and no one looks there anyway.
    Time: 5 minutes, entire house; 2 minutes, living room only
  • Secret Tip 12: Lighting
    The key here is low, low, and lower. It’s not only romantic, but bad lighting can hide a multitude of dirt.
    Time: 10 seconds
  • Secret Tip 13: Bed Making
    Get an old-fashioned waterbed. No one can tell if those things are made up or not, saving you, oh, hundreds of seconds over the course of a lifetime.
    Time: 0
  • Secret Tip 14: Showers, Toilets, and Sinks
    Forget one and two. Concentrate on three.
    Time: 1 minute
  • Secret Tip 15: The Bathtub
    No, don’t clean it. You don’t have time, and your guests aren’t going to look there anywhy. You can use the bathtub to hide all kinds of things from the rest of the house. Just pull the curtain closed and hope nobody looks there. This won’t work on your mother, sadly.
    Time: 3 seconds
  • If you already knew at least 10 of these tips, don’t even think about inviting a Martha Stewart type to your home!

The Homeowner’s Guide to Basic Tools

  • Hammer
    In ancient times a hammer was used to inflict pain on one’s enemies. Modern hammers are used to inflict pain on oneself.
  • Screwdriver
    The drink ordered at the local bar after you call in a professional repairman to undo the $500 in damage you did while trying to change out a light socket with your handy screwdriver.
  • Phillips Screwdriver
    The bar drink that you order when the damage estimate is over $1,000. Contains twice the vodka.
  • Pliers
    A device used to extend your reach the necessary few inches when you drop a one-of-a-kind screw down behind the new wall it took you two weeks to install.
  • Multi-Pliers
    Contain a handy assortment of sharp and dangerous tools. Best left in it’s leather sheath and worn on a homeowner’s belt to increase testosterone levels.
  • Electronic Stud Finder
    An annoying device that never goes off when you point it at yourself.
  • Halogen Light
    A worklight that lights up your backyard with the incandescence of a football stadium, causing you to cast a heavy shadow over the area you’re working on so that you need to use a flashlight anyway.
  • Cordless Drill
    A device that lessens your chance of electrocution 90% over a standard plug-in tool.
  • Cordless or Cellular Telephone
    The handyman’s 911.
  • Air Compressor
    A mechanical device similar in principal to harnessing the power of your mother-in-law’s nagging complaints and using the resulting airflow to blast old paint off the side of the house.
  • Chainsaw
    Allows you to cut your way out of the shed that you accidentally built completely around yourself.
  • Vise Grips
    A pair of helping hands that doesn’t critique the job you’re doing or offer advice.