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The 5-Minute Bathroom Cleanup

Clean your powder room in a flash by setting these priorities

Your mother-in-law just texted she’s in the neighborhood so she thought she’d swing by ... in five minutes. You’re free, right? “Of course! See you soon!” you reply as you picture the disaster zone that is your bathroom where she’ll surely want to freshen up. Time to put down the phone and pick up your rubber gloves. Spiff up your bathroom before she arrives by focusing on these priorities.

1. Tackle the toilet.

Get the toilet bowl cleaner working for the length of your cleaning session. Brush around the bowl and under the rim, allowing the solution to sit as long as possible before flushing. In a pinch, a couple of Alka-Seltzer tablets (which contain citric acid) can fizz their way to a freshened toilet.

2. Clear the clutter.

Cleaning is a lost cause if your bathroom counter features seven hair products, a trail of bobby pins and a nearly depleted tube of toothpaste. Stash the nonessentials in a drawer or cabinet until you have time to put everything in its proper place.

3. Grab the disinfecting wipes or an all-purpose cleaning spray.

Using separate wipes or paper towels for each zone, take a pass at: the countertops and sink; the toilet seat, tank, handle and base; and the mirrors.

4. Throw her off the scent.

Open a window to clear the air of the telltale cleaning smell. Light a candle or spritz an air-freshening spray. If you’re really feeling fancy, dab an essential oil like lavender inside the toilet paper roll.

5. Tidy the towels.

Refold bath towels and hang a fresh hand towel. Shake rugs and bath mats for the “of course, I just vacuumed” look. She’ll have no reason to suspect the bathroom ever looks any different.