Who’s Coming in an Hour?

Delana H. Stewart

Your mother-in-law (or an old college pal) phones and says: “Guess what? We decided to come for a visit and we’ll be there cinderella, fairy godmother, cleaning house, magicalin an hour.” Or, you look at the clock and realize your husband will be home from work in just one hour. You know you have been busy all day, but will he be able to tell? Here is a plan for what you can do with just one hour.


Many times I have been faced with the above scenarios, but even more frequently I wake up on the first day of the week to a mess from “letting it go” all weekend (or the entire past week). Sometimes it overwhelms me, and I find it difficult to even begin. In times like this, it energizes and motivates me to know that if I just do the one–hour plan, things can start looking nice and manageable. Each one’s house and mess are different, so you may need to make adjustments to this.

Sometimes I begin my day with the one-hour plan and other times I employ it in the final hour before someone arrives. Whether you have home-school aged children, preschoolers, toddlers, or babies, try this out!

The One-hour Plan

Assign each room 3, 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Take a timer around with you and only do what you can do in that room before the timer rings. Start with the most obvious messes that you can handle quickly.

You can start in any room in the house, but I often save the kitchen for last. Here is what that might look like:

Master Bathroom – 5 min.

Master Bedroom – 10 min.

Bedroom #2 – 4 min.

Bedroom #3 (or office) – 4 min.

Bathroom #2 – 5 min.

Dining Room/hall – 4 min.

Living room – 10 min.

Kitchen 15 min.

Sweep dining area/kitchen or vacuum living room-3 min.

With a Quick Meal Plan

If you also need to have a meal ready (or at least started), then combine master bed and bath for just 10 minutes and only allow 5 minutes in the living room. This will give you 10 minutes. Before you start your hour, you can throw something in a crock pot; or, just before you clean your kitchen, you can begin browning ground meat and onions and garlic (or seasonings). While that is cooking on low, clean your kitchen. You can decide later if you will turn that meat into spaghetti sauce, Sloppy Joes, tacos, etc. At least your guests or husband will walk into a pleasant aroma of dinner-in-the-works.

Other Tips

Kitchen-When cleaning the kitchen, your focus should be on the kitchen and not on the dishes. If you have a dishwasher, then quickly unload/load it and spend the rest of the time on cleaning the kitchen (wiping down counters, putting things away). If you do not have a dishwasher, then rinse the dishes and stack them to one side of the sink (to wash later if your guests are late—or after they have left). If your kitchen is fairly clean/presentable, then spend the time on the dishes.

Bedroom-When the bed is made the room looks 90% better, so make the bed first. Then put away clothes lying around. If your husband often complains about your clothes messing up the room, then start with yours. If he doesn’t complain, then at least get his clothes hung up or put in a hamper if dirty. Enlist your kids help with their rooms. If they are really small, tell them one obvious item that has multiples to pick up (i.e. all the blocks, all the books, or all the Legos). See Toddler Kits for keeping things organized and out of reach for your littles.


  • Preschool kids can use disinfectant wipes to wipe door knobs and cabinet handles. 2-3 year olds can take a damp rag and wipe down most any surface.
  • If you do the one-hour plan in the morning instead of at the end of the day, then you might want to do a 10-minute plan just before hubby or guests arrive. Just do what you can do in each room of the house in 1 minute (which is about the amount of time it takes to sing the ABC song twice).
  • If you have a little more than an hour, you can add laundry to the one-hour plan. Just start a load before you start your hour. Then, move the load to the dryer at the end of the hour.
  • You can assign 20-30 minutes each day (in addition to the one-hour plan) to other tasks around the house that require more time, such as: ironing, vacuuming the entire house, dusting all the furniture, organizing, etc

Is the house sparkling in one hour? No. But it is a lot better than it was prior to the one-hour speed clean plan. And, if you use the one-hour plan on a daily basis, you will find that more things get accomplished in each of those rooms than before. The one-hour plan can certainly keep things from being a total wreck.

What about you? What do you do when you just have an hour to spiff things up before someone arrives?

Do you need endurance or encouragement for enduring? Click here.

Education, Homeschool, Gap Year

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