16 ways to fake a clean home -- fast
Brighten the bathroom
First, flush. Next, grab some bleach. Pour a cup into the bowl; brush around the sides and under the rim. Next, fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and white vinegar. Spritz onto paper towels or a microfiber cloth, and hone in on those telltale soap drips and toothpaste spatters on faucets, mirrors, countertops, and in the sink — a definite dirty-bathroom giveaway. Next, shake out your rug or bath mat to fluff it up so it looks recently vacuumed. Now, flush the bleach that's been sitting in the bowl.
More on MSN Living: 20 DIY cleaning products that are easy to make
Put the living room in order
Run a microfiber cloth over the coffee table and other dusty surfaces, like the TV screen. Pile magazines or books into neat stacks on the end tables; gather all of the stray remotes in one place. Plump up throw pillows and chair cushions (even easier: flip the latter, if possible). Use a clean corner of the microfiber cloth to nab any obvious clumps of pet hair or dust stuck to upholstery or carpeting. Drape throws to hide dingy chair arms or furniture stains.
Bing: Quick clean up tips
Speed-clean the mudroom
Dry dirt is easier to remove than sticky mud, so don't even bother cleaning until the footprints get crusty; then just open the back door and sweep it all out. Wash the floor the fast, no-bucket-necessary way, with either a water-dampened microfiber mop or an all-in-one mopping system like Swiffer WetJet. Zap any scuff marks as you go with a bit of baking soda on a damp sponge.
Clearing dish clutter
Stop pretending you’re going to rinse those dishes piling up on the counter, and load them in the dishwasher (or if not, at least stack them neatly in the sink). Run some water over drippy detergent bottles, then stick those, pot scrubbers, and rubber gloves under the sink.
More on MSN Living: 6 super-charged kitchen innovations
Skip the oven
If you haven’t run the self-cleaning cycle, and can’t commit to this hours-long task, spot-clean dead-giveaway grime — stovetop spills, grease on the door handle or inside the glass door — with a sponge and a dash of baking soda (it’ll rinse off easier than a sudsy cleaner, FYI).
De-hair the chairs
Don't waste your time with a lint roller. Instead, don a pair of clean rubber gloves. Run your hands over the arms, seat, and back of the furniture, gathering and tossing the fur as it balls up. For water-safe upholstery (which doesn't change or transfer color when blotted with a damp cloth in a hidden spot), wet the gloves for better pickup.
Overhaul the front hall
Grab a laundry basket, storage bin, or large shopping bag to serve as a junk receptacle, plus a plastic grocery bag and microfiber cloth. Load up your bin with any shoes, gloves, or hats that litter the foyer. Stash hall-table clutter that could get lost (mail, keys) in the plastic bag; put the bag into the bin. While you're near the door, shake doormats outside. Drop off the bin in the laundry room or a nearby bedroom, or hide it in a closet.
Combat cooking fumes
Try this to erase the scent of yesterday's broiled fish: In a saucepan, mix 3 tablespoons of white vinegar and 1 cup of water and boil for several minutes. Vinegar is acidic and odors are alkaline, so the former will neutralize the latter.
Quick-wash your desktop
Move light items like files and your keyboard or laptop out of the way (just work around the bigger stuff). If your work surface is laminate or another washable material, spritz on all-purpose cleaner, wipe with a sponge, and rinse. For sealed wood surfaces, use a vinegar-water mix. Let either cleaner soak on sticky stains for a few seconds, then scrape with your fingernail or a credit card; wipe and rinse. Ink stains will come off with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol; rinse with a sponge.
After the ash is completely cold, sprinkle it with damp tea leaves or coffee grounds to cover the stale smell and keep down dust (so you don't inhale it). Then scoop the pile with a fireplace shovel (don't worry if you can't get it all — leaving an inch or two behind is fine), and dump it into a metal can, bucket, or even an old stockpot or clay flowerpot. Discard the mess outside, ideally in a metal trash container, but definitely away from your house.