November 24, 2009

Ten Tips for Faster Party Cleanups

Making Life Better

Get your house back in order (quickly!) the day after the big event.

The thought of post-party cleaning cleanups—stacks of dirty dishes teetering on the countertop; day-old leftovers wedged between the couch cushions—is enough to make anyone want to cancel the festivities before the invitations are even in the mail. Dread day-after cleanup detail no more! Here’s a step-by-step pre- and post-party cleanup plan that’ll help you get the job done in a snap.

Pre-Party Cleaning Prep

  • The key to achieving an easy after-party cleanup is in making sure you’re organized beforehand. Clean out the fridge. Make plenty of storage space for prepped foods before the party so you have room to store leftovers afterward. Similarly, empty the dishwasher so dirty dishes can be loaded on the go.
  • Clear off kitchen countertops. De-clutter all surfaces by removing anything not party-related—the toaster, cooking utensils, dish drainer, etc.
  • Take stock of essential cleaning items. Keep plenty of garbage bags, dishwashing liquid, cleaning fluids and food-storage materials on hand.
  • Organize your after-party storage containers. Check to see that they are clean (and all have lids!). This will make dealing with leftovers a cinch.
  • Pick a strategic spot for party trash. Make it easy for guests to tell where they can place their garbage, particularly if you're using disposable plates, cups and napkins. Provide a separate container for recycling bottles and cans right next to the regular trash.

Post-Party Cleaning Blitz

  • After guests leave, deal with your debris methodically, in categories: food, dishes, garbage and linen. Don a pair of rubber gloves and... Empty the drinks and consolidate the leftovers. Put the half-empties on a tray and take them to the sink to pour out. Then put away all re-usable food in those clean and organized storage containers.
  • Bring all dishes to the kitchen. Fill up the sink to soak dirty serving dishes and non-dishwasher-safe pieces. Load all dishes and silverware into the dishwasher and turn it on.
  • Grab an empty garbage bag or can and bring it to the mess. Dealing with trash this way prevents spills and saves you from a lot of back and forth. Walk around and discard all non-reusable food (e.g. dipped-into dips, fingered peanuts), used paper products, recyclable bottles, etc.
  • Gather all linens. Put tablecloths, napkins and hand towels into the washing machine.
  • Take out the garbage and, weather permitting, crack the windows. The next morning you'll hardly be able to tell that your house was full of party-goers the night before.

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