The average British woman needs nearly half an hour’s notice to get the house tidied up before guests arrive.
A new study found that 28 minutes is the minimum time required to dispose of mess and hide clutter to give the superficial impression of cleanliness.
The research also uncovered some of the impromptu ‘hidey-holes’ women use to conceal mess – such as washing machines, tumble dryers and laundry baskets.
The study was carried out among 2,000 women by Swinton as part of its No Place Like Home Facebook campaign.
Spokesman Steve Chelton said: ”We’ve all been in situations where visitors turn-up unannounced and we quickly flit around the house picking up odds and ends.
”It’s only natural that our homes look lived in and most houses will have shoes, bills and a few crumbs scattered around.
“Unexpected visitors should be a nice surprise, not a cause for panic.”
The survey also found nearly half of those questioned have a special drawer or cupboard used for emergency storage of junk in the crucial seconds before visitors arrived.
Another popular place to secrete things is the oven – with 15 per cent admitting they’ve hidden dirty plates in their cookers.
It also emerged three quarters of women confess to manically cleaning right up to the moment their guests arrive.
But despite the fact nearly half of those questioned dreaded unexpected visitors, one in five admit they themselves regularly visit other people’s houses with no prior warning.
Two thirds polled said they love the feeling after having a ‘big tidy-up’ or deep clean and 28 per cent regularly make a vow to maintain this level of cleanliness.
However half also admit that they will probably be unable to keep this promise and 20 per cent admit it’s a totally unrealistic target.
Another extreme tactic employed by house-proud hosts caught off-guard is described by Swinton as the ‘bouncer’ routine.
This involves physically preventing guests from entering the home with 23 per cent of respondents confessing to the technique because they were embarrassed by their untidiness.
A further 57 per cent said that even when they were given notice of an impending visit they would only tidy downstairs and try to put off guests venturing upstairs.
However their ‘stairway stalling’ comes undone if a visitor needed to visit an upstairs toilet.
MOST COMMON MESS
1. Washing up on the draining board
2. Crumbs on the kitchen floor
3. Fluff on the carpet
4. Wet washing drying on the radiators
5. Recycling ready to go outside
6. Bills, letters, correspondence lying around
7. Washing on the line
8. Shoes gathered at the front door
9. Odds and ends on the stairs ready to be taken upstairs
10. Piles of clean washing waiting to be ironed
11. Dirty windows
12. Chargers for phones, laptops and tablets lying around
13. Dishevelled sofa
14. Toys strewn all over the floor
15. Last night’s crockery yet to be washed
16. Coats draped over the bannisters
17. Old newspapers lying around
18. Dirty work tops
19. Piles of ironed clothes waiting to be put away
20. Paw prints on the kitchen floor
21. Pet hair on the furniture
22. Overflowing laundry bin
23. Overflowing kitchen bin
24. Gadgets everywhere
25. None of the above
26. Coffee rings on the coffee table
27. Dirty shower screen
28. DVD’s out of their cases
29. Pet hair on the window sills
30. Wet towels on the bathroom floor