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Easy After-Party Cleanup

We’ve all been there. We throw a gigantic party for a birthday, anniversary, or other special event and holiday. It ends late and, suddenly, we’re faced with a huge amount of clean up work…at midnight! So, we mull over the best solution for cleaning up. Do you start to tackle the job now, hoping to be done by 2 or 3 a.m.? Do you do some of the cleaning at this time and leave the big jobs until morning? Or do you just close our eyes, pretend the mess isn’t there, and go to bed?

Indeed, everyone handles party clean-up differently. Those who just can’t stand dirt probably stay up and get all the cleaning done, or else they won’t be able to sleep soundly, worrying about all they need to accomplish when the sun comes up. Others can sleep like a baby, regardless of the mess in the living room!

But, experts say, the best scenario is to do a little cleanup right after the party and the rest when you’re wide awake and ready to tackle the big stuff.

Things You Can Do Immediately Following the Party

There are simply some things that shouldn’t be left until morning or you’ll wind up with a lot more cleanup work than you bargained for.

Because food can spoil, you’ll want to deal with the leftovers first. Remove them from their large serving platters and place them in smaller, sealed containers for safe keeping. Throw away anything that has the potential of spoiling if left out for too long, especially foods that contain mayonnaise or other ingredients that should stay cold.

Pick up any stray glasses, cups or paper cups, cans, or bottles. Dump out any remaining contents and put the cans and bottles in their recycling bins (if you recycle) and place the cups or glasses or the kitchen counter for washing in the morning. This will help avoid breakage and spilling when you’re cleaning the rest of the house. You can stay on top of this task by picking up these items as you’re sweeping through the party saying good-bye to guests.

If you’re using real plates and utensils, you can do the same with these. Simply collect them and place them on the kitchen counter for later washing. If you’ve used paper plates and plastic utensils, walk around your house with a garbage bag and dispose of them. If they have food or drink on or in them, be sure your garbage bag is sturdy so it doesn’t leak on your carpet, or bring the plates to the garbage can rather than walking around with the bag. Finally, gather up any table covers and dump the crumbs or, if they’re plastic, throw them away.

If you see spills as you’re picking up glasses, cups, plates, and utensils, it’s a good idea to address them immediately. Set-in stains are always harder to clean up and may result in permanent damage to your carpet or flooring.

If you’ve got grimy or greasy pans or pots to conquer, it’s probably best not to leave them until morning. Remember, a good way to eliminate some of those tough clean-up problems is to line baking or roasting pans with foil or use disposable aluminum pans for cooking as much as possible.

You may also want to clean the bathroom, especially if you’ll be using the same one your guests used during the party. Swab the toilet and give the counters a quick wipe. Wet mop the floor as well. The next day, you can clean it more thoroughly, if need be.

Things to Do the Next Day

The tasks for the following day represent the finishing touches to a clean house. Begin by rinsing all the cups, plates, glasses, and silverware and placing them in the dishwasher, if available. Let family members help you by loading and unloading, especially if there’s going to be more than one load, which is likely after a big party.

While the dishwasher is running, it’s time to dust the furniture and pick up anything you may have missed last night. Also wash off your counters and clean your stove so that your kitchen is spic-and-span.

Finally, when everything else is done, you can vacuum carpets and mop floors. This should always be the last step because all the other steps that come before generally impact floors and rugs, creating more crumbs, spills, etc.


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