Efficient party cleanup starts early. You’ll thank yourself if you put some time and thought in before your bash. Of course, no amount of planning will eliminate all post-party chores, so we’ve put together a list of tips to get you organized from setup to cleanup.
Before the Party
Party planning and setup is your opportunity to prevent mess and set the stage for easier cleanup when the festivities are over.
□ Choose disposable plates, cups and flatware to make cleanup easier. Toss it all instead of washing. It may not be the greenest option, but at least you’ll save on water usage. There are lots of stylish disposable options now, so it doesn’t have to look sloppy. If disposable dishware is a nonstarter for you, consider renting plates, tablecloths, napkins—especially if you’re having a large party. Return them the next day (unwashed!) and you’ll save yourself a lot of work.
□ Place trash and recycling cans in appropriate spots. That way, guests can dispose of cups, plates and bottles along the way instead of leaving used ones everywhere.
□ Make sure the dishwasher is empty and ready for loading.
□ Stock up on carryout or take-and-toss containers. The more leftovers you send away with guests, the less you’ll have to wrangle at the evening’s end.
□ Clean out the fridge. Make room to quickly store any leftover food and/or drinks after the guests are gone. Track down and set aside your food storage containers and lids to avoid hunting around for them later.
After the Guests Leave
You may not have the energy to do all your cleanup the night of the party, but you’ll find the next morning a lot less daunting if you take care of a few basics before you go to sleep.
□ Scrape off dishes and soak them along with flatware in soapy water. That should prevent bits of food from hardening overnight. If you can get one load running in the dishwasher before bed, all the better.
□ Consolidate and refrigerate any leftovers that did not go home with guests.
The Next Morning
When tackling the aftermath, aim for focus and efficiency. Concentrate on one task at a time and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by the overall scene.
□ Make a single sweep through the house to collect dirty glasses and other items to be washed. Place them en masse in a tub or an empty storage bin, then ferry them all at once to the kitchen.
□ Make a pass through your home with a large bag to pick up any trash and recyclables. That way, you handle garbage and empty bottles in one fell swoop.
□ Take trash and recycling outside.
□ Get dishes, glasses, flatware and cookware washed and put away.
□ Wipe counters, sink and other kitchen surfaces. For tough stains, use all-purpose cleaner with bleach.
□ Launder tablecloths, napkins, and towels from the bathroom. Don’t forget the bath towels — there’s a good chance guests dried their hands on those too.
□ Vacuum carpets.
□ Sweep and mop floors.
□ Tackle big cleanup issues. Whether it’s candlewax on the tablecloth, stains on countertops, or red wine on the couch, we have fixes for the biggest party messes.
□ Wipe down the bathroom sink, countertops and toilet. Spray surfaces with all-purpose cleaner with bleach to disinfect while you clean.