OK, so most people's cleaning doesn't pass the white-glove test. Here are some tactics for getting a better rating when time is at a premium, according to Better Homes and Gardens, a Meredith magazine:

Avoid dirt catchers. Shop with upkeep in mind. Steer clear of open shelves, knickknacks, and plant racks that demand cleaning. Select wash-and-wear draperies and consider ready-made or quick-sew slipcovers that can be freshened twice a year.Gloss over floors. Keep up the luxury of carpet with a high-powered, cordless vacuum cleaner. This rechargeable convenience, now available from a variety of manufacturers, is the ultimate in easy handling.

Or, stick with natural wood or stone floors that require damp-mopping once a month or so, in between regular dust-mopping. For warmth, use machine-washable throw rugs. Double their duty before washing; flip to the clean side when one gets dirty.

Tame beds. Cover comforters with duvet covers. These are large envelopes of machine-washable fabric that eliminate the need for a top sheet and a blanket. Make the bed by tossing on the covered comforter.

Give it the once-over. Guests are on the way and there isn't time to prepare? Dim the lights and bring out the candles for instant atmosphere and no-show dust. To dust in a hurry, do only the surfaces at eye-level or below (skip the refrigerator top unless a basketball team is coming to dinner).