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How to fake a clean home

Fat Mum Slim /

how to fake a clean home

I woke up this morning and my house looked like a bomb had hit it. Seriously. I’ve been feeling poorly, and then yesterday Hubby, Luella and I just escaped it all and spent the morning at the beach, swimming lessons, sushi and school pick-ups, you know… avoiding it. Pretending that our messy home did not exist.

This was my house at 7:15am this morning. MORTIFYING {so mortifying that I’ll share a picture online. Why not?}.


{Yes that is a dead, pink & white unicorn on the floor. It died from mess distress}

I’m a master at the speed clean. I used to be a nanny, you know? And you can bet your bottom dollar that half an hour before it was time for the parents to come home, I was getting my speed clean on {and telling those kids to be angels}. If those parents arrived home early for some insane reason, well… let’s just say I was wishing they didn’t.

Faking a clean home needs two main things; attention to surfaces and a laundry basket {or two if you’re really in a pickle}, oh and about 30 minutes.

Start the clocks, and BEGIN.

1. Grab your bleach and head to the toilet. You’re going to squirt some bleach in that loo and leave it. When faking a clean home you want to cover all bases that a visitor might visit. Leave your loo to clean itself for a moment.

2. Head to your kitchen. Our main living/dining/kitchen is one big space that is straight off the front door. There is no hiding our mess. So for us that big main area needs to be cleaned, your rooms might be different. The kitchen is a place to make tea and eat biscuits, so I think it’s a great spot to clean first. I give it ten minutes here. Fill the sink with hot soapy water, and while it’s filling, empty the dishwasher and then fill it again. Wipe down all surfaces. If you’re like me and like to have every cupboard door open for some weird reason, close them. Wash anything in the sink that isn’t dishwasher safe {baby bottles, lunchbox stuff etc}.

3. If you have kids, now is the time to use them. Ask {beg, plead, bribe!} them to swiftly pick up everything they own and put it in their room or they lose it. Lacey was sound asleep during my speed clean, so I did the work for her. She can thank me later.

4. Grab your laundry basket. Yes, laundry baskets are meant for laundry but in this case it’s going to be for the stuff that you haven’t been arsed to put away for a while. Just toss all the little things in there: bills that need paying, school newsletters, stray hair ties, stuff, stuff and more stuff. You can go through it later while enjoying a glass of wine.

At this stage Luella got cranky and so the rest I did one handed while carrying her around. A workout and a speed clean? Thank you Luella.

5. Wipe down all surfaces. Well, not all. Let’s not get too enthusiastic. All visible flat, horizontal, non-floor surfaces; tables, buffets, high chairs etc.

6. Do the pick up. Anything that’s left on the floor can be done in a swift clean. For me it was twenty billion toys of Luella’s that she chases around all day. They went into one basket. And then Lacey’s pencils, textas and pens into her pencil case. Usually she has about eleventy billion of those ‘awesome’ loom elastics around everywhere. Today was a good day.

7. Shove that laundry basket in your bedroom. Or whichever room you can easily hide it.

8. Go back to the toilet. Give it a quick once over with the toilet brush. Check the bathroom {i.e. the hand-washing place} for any stray underpants or dirty, wet towels. Pick them up, obviously.

9. Light a candle. A candle does many things. It makes your house smell a-mah-zing, and it gives your home a feel that says, “What? My house always looks like this.”

10. Close all doors to rooms you do not want explored. For me today, it’s the laundry. DO NOT GO IN THERE PEOPLE.

You’re done. If you’re extra studious and have time to spare, you can use this to do a super vacuum. Or if you’re smart and have a robot vacuum {like me!}, press the button and let it do it’s thing.

IMG_7529And next time you’re at the shops, you might like to buy a new laundry basket… because it goes without saying that the one filled with all that stuff is going to sit in it’s hiding spot for 3 weeks until you get a notice for your telephone bill being overdue and you find it hiding in your closet from that one time you did that crazy speed clean.

Do you use the laundry basket trick? What other ones do you have up your sleeves?

  • Kate

    IT IS SO GOOD TO KNOW I’M NOT ALONE!!!! I mean with the messy house business! I also clean my car with the laundry basket trick. I wish I could show you my messy house just so you know I’m not lying when I say…you are not alone!!

    “The award for speed cleaning champion is Chantelle!”

  • Fashionista

    Thank you! That made me laugh out loud! I have a cleaning lady who comes every second Monday and the deal is that she cleans, therefore all the crap has to be picked up/put away so she can do just that. The house is an absolute hive of activity half and hour before she arrives. Similar activity happens half an hour prior to guests arriving. Unannounced guests, well they get the technicolour glory. My no go room is my study, there is all sorts of odd piles of stuff in there awaiting attention. Eeek.

  • Thankyou for posting this because I’ve been inspired to give my flat a 30 minute clean (after I write this comment and eat my sandwich). My biggest bug bear is folding and putting away clean laundry from the washing line, I just dump it on the lounge and only put it away when I can’t find something I’m looking for or before I know visitor’s are coming over. It’s hard to change your bad habit’s but I’ll see how 30 minute clean’s go!

    • I hate that task too, hence why no one is allowed in my laundry right now.

      • Glenne :)

        I was soooo bad at putting away clean washing, for such a long time, and of course it breeds & grows when it sits around in baskets :-/ I have solved the problem – I fold at the line & do not do another thing once back inside until I’ve put it away. I don’t have an ironing basket- I hang/fold & put away everything , & the odd thing that needs it gets a press as we wear it. Seriously the putting away part takes only minutes, and seems to save HOURS of folding & putting away if it’s sat for a few days in a basket. πŸ™‚

        • karen

          I hang all shirts, jumpers on a hanger straight away. Then they can dry and go straight in the wardrobe

        • Kristi

          I do this too – fold as I take it off the line. I also sort as I hang, so that all my underwear is together, husbands is together, and I hang socks in pairs by the toes, so that I can roll them up before I unpeg them and they never lose their mate! I dump the basket load onto our bed so that we can’t go to sleep until we have put the washing away!

          • Rebecca Miller

            I do the exact same thing Kristi!! Save so much time!

  • Danimezza

    In so many ways we are exactly the same… so so many. Wish I could pop over, play with the kids and give you an hour to yourself x

  • Can not even tell you have much motivation this has given me. And I’ve been in such a funk about the state of my home for too long. Thanks gorgeous!

  • Gigi

    Oh wow, thank you so much for sharing this. Only just had an icky conversation with hubby about the dire state of our house last night, which led to a major melt down by me. It’s nice to know it’s not only me and my lack of organisation whose house can look like a bomb has been deployed! x

  • Perfect! I wrote a similar post not long ago but mine’s a bit silly!

  • Tara

    This is my life… I am so glad to hear that it isn’t just me (especially the new laundry basket part

  • Skim

    Totally Love the laundry basket clean! Been a massive fan for years. I’ve been looking at getting a robot vacuum cleaner, any recommendations here???

  • Kirrily

    I do the laundry basket trick too.
    My biggest problem is that I refuse to clean up after my husband – so I have to get him moving too (he has his own basket!)

  • Taran

    Possibly a little creepy, but I totally just saved a pic of your “after” shot. We are buying a new home soon and it’s totally my style! Going to use it for decoration inspiration πŸ™‚ Loving the zebra head!

  • coffeelovinmom

    I can’t count the baskets and bags in my closet. I can only imagine the mail I’ve missed and the things the kids haven’t missed since..

  • Julie M

    Wow, very impressive! I must invest in another laundry basket for hiding stuff. I try and do a speed clean, but it never seems to work especially when both my girls are at home, as they are very good at taking things back out after I’ve tidied up. I try and put away the toys once they go to bed, but that doesn’t happen too much πŸ˜‰

  • Jo

    This is so similar to how I speed clean my house. I own about ten washing baskets/tubs. Seriously. I also use them to put folded washing in, so I can easily take it to the appropriate room (where it usually sits for several weeks before the clothes get put away). Another favourite speed-cleaning trick I use when I’m expecting guests and am running out of time (or have unexpected guests show up) is to put my dirty pots and pans that can’t go in the dishwasher into the oven. Sometimes, if I’m behind on dishes and they can’t all fit in the dishwasher, I’ll stack them in a tub and stash that in the oven, too.

  • Mic

    all that by quater to eight…nice going πŸ˜‰

  • Carly

    I am not the only one… I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE!! There are others that use washing baskets for things they are not intended for and I love you all!!

  • Naomi

    thank you so much for sharing this…. i have wondered if i was the only one who really does this ‘speed clean’ before guests arrive or when i’ve just had enough of the mess growing and created by Miss 22month… expecting our 2nd in July and this gives me confidence i may just be ok once i have the 2… All hail the speed clean…

    i do give you bonus points for doing this all before 8am! x πŸ™‚

  • Tamakazee

    A couple days ago I came across a tip on facebook that has helped my daily routine- have a cupboard in your laundry with different washing baskets for each load type!! Soon as its full, in the machine it goes. So simple, yet effective. Excuse the sideways pic πŸ˜€

    • I like this!

    • Therita

      I do the same thing! It’s great πŸ˜€

    • Debbie Price

      I have these in my bathroom. Two white faux wicker ones. One for darks, one for lights. Then there’s two more in the laundry, one for towels, one for other stuff (bath mats, cleaning rags etc) and also a small pile of “reds” in one of them as I always wash them separate. Definitely cuts down sorting time.

  • Kate

    I use the laundry basket trick too, but I also use the swiffer trick too! I sweep every piece of junk into one pile (also give the floor a quick clean) then everyone has to pick up their stuff out of the pile or they ‘lose it’!
    But otherwise, your speed clean sounds about the same as mine!

    • Oh, I like it. I still don’t think Lacey would care.

    • Jackie Brown

      haha i do that too, i tell my boys pick it up or im sweeping it up, there is a mad dash to pick up the toys and cars etc that Im sweeping towards the bin!

  • Kylie Cornish

    I just did this to my house! I work as a domestic cleaner and I knew today being my only day off I wanted to give my house a quick clean before the weekend! Let’s see if it last till then with 3 teenagers and 1 child and 1 husband in the house. I love the candle idea! So going to light one now that my house is tidy! Oh and enjoy a cuppa!

  • Amy O’Mahoney

    I have dedicated the bottom draw in the kitchen to miscellaneous papers-bills, school/kindy/daycare notices so that I know where they are! And so that there is a spot just to shove them when we do the mad ‘ Quick clean up someones coming over and we need to make it seem like we are not slobs’!

  • Tota Lee Busee

    DEF just wrote out what we do no most saturdays! πŸ™‚ laundry basket trick was stolen from my mother actually- very great.

  • Belinda Docwra

    I keep a washing basket in my car for that exact reason. The quick clean before someone else needs to get in!!!

  • Jasmine

    I used to get very distracted by returning out of place items to other rooms. I found that if I carried a basket around with me when cleaning, I could chuck in anything that didn’t belong in that room and anything that didn’t have a proper home. Keeps me focused on the room I’m supposed to be cleaning instead of bouncing all over the house. The bonus is that you end up with a collection of stuff that you can look at collectively and work out better ways to store/manage. I now keep a filing tray and a clipboard in a drawer in a sideboard right next to our front door. That way we open mail as we come in, put anything that needs to be filed into the tray for monthly filing sessions, and anything that needs action or bills that need paying (though most are now done online and by DD), they go in the clipboard that gets checked every day or at least every week. Envelopes and crap goes straight in the bin. Take away menus go into a folder with plastic sleeves. And toys go into one of those ikea shelving units – into soft fabric boxes. Plus one of the boxes is for kid shoes and socks.

  • Vicky Quinlan

    I love it! its so me, I know I have a toddler but all that mess still makes me scratchy/ twitchy/ give me shortness of breath etc. Can I also share my BIGGEST peeve? CHARGERS!!! iPhones, iPads, work laptops, home laptops, Kindles!! ALL DIFFERENT, they drive me to distraction, especially after the Husband has worked from home and has seen fit to charge every single electrical item we own!. Cables are strewn around everywhere ready to a) trip me up, b) decapitate me or the toddler etc etc etc…. blah blah, I’m sure you get it. Anyway love the laundry basket idea. x

  • MotherDownUnder

    Ha ha…I teach from home once a week and so I have mastered the art of a fake clean. I vac, mop, quick once over of the bathroom, some flowers in the kitchen and presto…my clients have no idea what mess lurks behind those closed doors!

  • Loved this! I do this about once a week haha, thanks for the tips lovely!

  • oh yeah….. lol I currently have at least six laundry baskets…that i can find. I am sure there are more somewhere….

  • amiehellofleurieu

    gotta love a spare washing basket…or two πŸ˜‰ great post!

  • Naenae

    – Washing baskets full in the back of the car…
    – Dirty clothes stuffed into the washing machine and dryer, as many as will fit in there…

  • That is me every time people come over! And that laundry basket? I’ve had to forfeit some that have had stuff in them for months….or the basket I lost to loose socks years ago…I even managed to move house with a basket full of odd socks. I really should just throw them out.

  • Mel

    this is so so so me! Oh gosh had to laugh….love those ‘awesome’ loom bands. Love them.

  • Lauren Anastasiou

    Love it! I do the laundry basket thing too, but then don’t end up emptying them for ages because it just looks too hard.

  • Speed cleaning is the ONLY way I clean πŸ™‚ I’m too scares to do the laundry basket trick though because you can bet I will have baskets of junk that sit around for weeks and I’ll never be able to break the habit lol. I already get in trouble from hubby for dumping everything in the office hehe

  • Lee

    Haha!! This is how I clean! Lol

  • christiechildhood101

    Laundry baskets may or may not also be really useful for piling the stack of unwashed dishes into and hiding in the garage as guests for a six year old birthday party are walking in the front door. Not that I would know πŸ˜‰

  • 26 Years & Counting

    I am the master of putting things in a pile and forgetting about them for at least 3 weeks πŸ™‚

  • ASH

    oh goodness….this is my life…..LOL!
    i also hide the PILE of clean laundry in the walk in, have to VERY large baskets of unfolded towels that kinda stays in the spare room AND i have a bottle of spray vinegar and floor cloth to spot clean the floors before visitors arrive….also helps eliminate odour lol!
    and the opened cupboard thing….it irks me SO MUCH, yet i’m the main person in the house that does this! that and drawers too….super bad and lazy habit lol

    • ASH

      OH….and can i say, it gets easier as they get older….not the mess part but the forcing them to help…they now unstack the dishwasher, and each day i give one a bag and one a basket and they pick up the rubbish and clothes/towels around the house. They also willingly vacuum and just this past weekend i bought them their very own rubber gloves and they did the toilet and bathroom…they are 7 and 9 hahahaha!
      in fact they are currently whizzing around the house now with their bag and basket….MUHAHAHAH!

  • Sandra

    I have it on good authority (ahem) that a rake works wonders with Lego etc. I have also used a basket, and for housepe inspections, loaded the clothes washer ready to go without. Actually turning it on till later. Sanity and a Saturday power clean go hand in hand.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    My house is the same layout I hide bills and things in a drawer and try and pick up as I put down though I do not have young children all houses get messy and dirty it took me 5hours to clean this one today…….sigh!

  • Neroli

    By the clock in each photo you have done a FAB job. Great post!

  • I’ve become a bit of a master of the fake clean, is that bad?! We’ve both got parents that like unannounced visits, so we’ve learnt how to distract while I run around like a mad woman desperately trying to clean/hide everything. Keeping doors closed is a big help, they hide a multitude of sins. x

  • Malissa

    I have a basket for each person in the house and one extra. When doing the fake clean I get all the baskets out (if the kids are home they help) and sort out whose mess is whose. I chuck out rubbish and the rest goes into the house basket. The baskets then go into the right room and the house basket gets shoved in the walk-in-robe. The kids have a day to sort out their basket because it’s needed for their clean sorted laundry. I think Flylady taught me this. Flylady was awesome, such a life saver, when I had little kids everywhere!

    • Deborah Myers

      Love,love,love the Flylady!

  • Wow, what a difference 30 minutes can make! My “danger zone” area is the kitchen bench – everything seems to get dumped there!

  • Emma

    I love the washing basket….I usually have some kind of tote bag filled will all sorts of crap!

  • clareb8

    I freaking love this post Chantelle!
    I’m a keen speed cleaner when the mother in law calls and says she’s 5 minutes away….!!!

  • Ha ha, hilarious! Tomorrow I’m going to come back here to this post and try it. This is exactly what I need, I do however fear for the hidden laundry basket and its contents.

  • Michelle Doehnert

    And going by your wall clock you did that in real time!


    • I knew people would check, so I made sure I did it in real time. Got a sweat up and everything.

      Need me to do yours? How many days to go?

  • Debbie Huxstep

    I used to do that all the time when my children were little, I still do it, but now I am more ruthless….if what is in the basket doesn’t get used or removed from that basket within a month it all goes in the bin. I figure if I haven’t used in that time I’m not going too!! Haven’t come undone yet πŸ™‚

  • Jessica Fealy

    Such a great post! I am a huge fan of the ‘speed clean’! And yep – I have at least 5 laundry baskets in my home at all times – super useful!!

  • Kiara Miller

    Everytime! πŸ˜€

  • My Angels 3

    Yep – this is me too! A little off topic, but where did you get those GORGEOUS kitchen stools? They’re just what I’m looking for!

  • Reen

    I am SO GLAD to hear that I am not the only one who uses laundry baskets for things other than laundry! That’s why I have FOUR baskets! Doing housework with kids awake is pretty much a non event. I try to put clothes away and my three year old is pulling more out of the drawers. I try to vacuum and the kids end up stalking me ninja style and jumping out in front of the vacuum cleaner, or attempt to vacuum alongside me using a pram or a push along crocodile. Or my daughter holds onto the electrical cord. Sweeping is not much better, bikes are ridden through the mess I try to sweep into piles. So yes, I live in a messy house, because I am too time poor, or rushed or tired or I’ve just plain given up and surrendered to chaos and filth.

  • Amber-Rose Thomas

    I can’t believe you did that in half an hour. Amazing! I need to buy some junk uh… I mean laundry baskets.

  • Deborah Myers

    Wow! But in all honesty if I had stopped by unexpectedly (which I don’t always call ahead) I would have just thought ,”Looks like kids live here!” I would much rather see a messy house and know the kids are well cared for and loved to the moon and back, then to see a perfect house and wonder when are the kids allowed to be kids? Bravo !!

  • Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}

    I just decided I need a few more laundry baskets. LOVE this.

  • fauxfuschia

    I endorse a fake clean.

    • Now I feel totally validated. Thank you! I can’t quite imagine baskets of stuff lying around your home though, but I’m very comforted that you like a fake clean too. xx

  • Louise

    Haha this is me of an evening. Thrust Hamish, usually squirming and not to impressed with the world by this stage of the day, into Dads arms and run around like a maniac putting things away, getting the kitchen sorted, lunches made and generally tidying up. The aim of the game is to get it done before the bath/bed routine for the three kids, so by the time they are in bed, I can sit down for 30 seconds before passing out!

  • Michelle K

    I can never find a laundry basket when I need it for actual laundry because, you know, STUFF.
    Am also a fan of lighting a candle, my favourite at the moment is actually just the Woolies brand Lily Rose one, it’s devine! (And on spesh for 3.99 =D)

  • PANDAmonium

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one. except I have a million and one shoe boxes instead of laundry baskets…

  • I love this post so much, when reading it I felt like I was reading about a regular day in my house ;P

  • Nicky

    Ok – I didn’t read ALL comments, but freom scanning through most of them, it seems like I am going to be one of the few honest people…
    I clicked on the link and saw the fist picture. And I thought: where is the problem? This is what our house looks like, when IT IS cleaned.
    As for the second picture – well our house looked like this once – that was before we moved in… πŸ˜‰

    That doesn’t mean we have mouldy dishes lying around or dirty laundry on the floor when visitors come. But if you want to sit on our couch – yes, you will have to shove aside toys or books. And there will be paper on the table that need sorting through and there will be laundry waiting to be put away.

    But hey – do you want to visit ME, or do you want to come and see a clean house? In the first case: come right over. In the second case: give me a warning about half a year beforehand.

    BTW – the best “Make the house look better than it is” tip I have ever heard? Put the vacuum cleaner and a bucket with cleaning stuff in the hallway and tell people “you just wanted to start” (Doesn’t work to often in a row with the same visitors πŸ˜‰ )

  • Linda

    Love it – we call this a hidy-up (we run around collecting everything and then hiding it in our bedroom – the no-go room !) Glad that I’m not alone !!

  • Haha I love this! My house looks tidy for about 5 minutes a month & I sure do love those 5 minutes πŸ™‚ My speed clean is much like yours & I actually kinda like them – good return for time spent I think!

  • Laundry basket?! Genius! I’m going to buy two new ones. (I may or may not have a pile of wet washing sitting in ours, it may or may not have been there overnight waiting for the fairies to hang it out).

  • All I have to say is the laundry basket idea is a fab one. Also never look in our writing desk and the bottom draw of my filing cabinet!

  • … and I actually thought it was just me that did that. My secret is out!

  • Glad it’s not just me who performs an express clean every time a visitor comes! And god save any visitor who turns up unannounced!!!
    Loved this post Chantelle x

  • I love this!! Littlest is asleep, oldest is occupied and hubby is in night shift recovery mode (aka sleeping) so i’m going to give this an immediate attempt – although the state our house is in, I very may well need an hour :p

  • Hahaha you do have it down pat! I’m also a big fan of the multipurpose laundry baskets πŸ™‚

  • CareaBearaSara

    I’ve found this website helpful, beware the language!

  • JD

    Totally do the laundry basket trick. Only problem is my laundry baskets seem to have a vortex effect because once things go in they don’t come out. I’m running out of laundry baskets and places to hide them. Plus my actual laundry never sees a basket.

  • I remember being at a friends house and people were coming over soon so she put all the dirty dishes in the pantry cupboard! Makes me laugh all the time when I think about it.

  • Oh My Gosh! I have a “cute ” hamper in each room… 1 for darks & 1 for whites & when they’re full we do the laundry! Also I found these great “all purpose cleaner” pumps …1 is on kitchen counter near sink and 1 is on bathroom countertop near the sink too!!! I just grab paper towels or a rag and “pump” then wipe & VOILA’!!!!!!

  • Brilliant!

  • Lindsay

    I use furniture polish like an air freshener just before the husband comes home. Smells like I have cleaned πŸ™‚ thanks for the tip mum!

  • Barbara Modlin

    All dirty laundry, towels, napkins get tossed into empty washer and dryer to hide…I also have a swifter duster for floor and surfaces…I also do the bleach in toilet, but I also douse any chrome faucets and sinks, bathroom countertops with rubbing alcohol straight from bottle let sit, shine with a paper towels You can then use these same damp paper towels to clean the bathroom mirrors…it’s quite the miracle quick fix…and a tiny pot of water with cinnamon boiling on the stove.

  • Jacqui

    When I was selling my house (awful opens) I used to chuck everything in the laundry basket/s and then in the back of the car. Now use this trick to clean up the family room quick stix. It’s a beauty!