Post-Party Cleaning Checklist

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Using a post-party cleaning checklist is a great way to get your home free of germs, odors, spills and stains after you’ve entertained guests. From what to use to where to clean, I’ve got you covered with after-party cleaning tips and a checklist to make the task easier and more efficient.

Pre-Party Preparation

Whether you love to throw big, wild parties or find entertaining exhausting, a little planning can make cleaning up after the party much easier.

As an introvert, I’ve found that dreading the cleanup is sometimes even harder than having a dozen or more people in my home. This checklist divides the work, so I can take it at my own pace and that makes it less overwhelming. It all starts with a little pre-planning.

Gather your supplies

It’s easiest to clean up after a party if you already have the items and products readily available. That way, if you overindulge on the libations, you won’t have to deal with a crowded grocery store just to get your home back in top shape.

Some essentials include:

  • Liquid dish soap
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Glass cleaner
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Bathroom disinfectant
  • Floor cleaner
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Vacuum cleaner with attachments
  • Mop
  • Garbage bags

Identify your crew

There’s no reason you need to clean up by yourself after a party. I used to think that was part of being a good host, but it turns out that letting guests help is even more gracious.

That’s because some guests offer to help out of gratitude for the event or because they were raised to do so. So, let them! Or tag family members to pitch in with some of the immediate cleaning steps after the party ends.

What to Clean Right Away

Don’t call it a night without tending to a few things that can protect your home from illness, pests, and permanent stains. Here’s what to do after the last guest leaves:

  1. Air it out: A crowd of people increases your home’s humidity and can leave a variety of odors and germs. If the weather permits, open your home’s windows to let in fresh air, and consider spraying a homemade air-freshener to deodorize it.
  2. Round up garbage: Grab a trash bag and collect all the trash and empty cups or bottles in every room used for the party.
  3. Pack leftovers: Discard perishables to avoid food poisoning. It is okay to keep temperature-safe party foods like fruits, vegetables, chips, and sodas.
  4. Load the dishwasher: Gather all dirty dishes and load them into the dishwasher. If there are more dishes than the dishwasher can handle, rinse and stack them in the sink so there’s nothing left to attract pests.
  5. Load the washing machine: Collect tablecloths, runners, dish towels, and hand towels for washing. Check for any stains and start laundering the pile.
  6. Wipe up spills: Use an all-purpose spray cleaner to tackle any spills on surfaces, countertops, and floors so you don’t wake up to a sticky mess swarming with ants.
  7. Check for stains on carpets/rugs: Treat any stains on carpets or rugs immediately to keep them from setting in. You might want to shampoo or steam clean your carpet after you’ve finished the rest of the post-party cleanup checklist.
    • Beer stains: Blot the area with a kitchen towel, then apply a solution of 1/3 cup white vinegar and 2/3 cup water. Blot again to dry.
    • Red wine stains: Combine 1 cup cool water, 1 cup white vinegar, and 1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent. Blot the wine stain with paper towels, then sponge it with the liquid mixture. Use a clean cloth to dry the area and repeat as needed until the discoloration is gone.
    • Vomit: Remove any solid matter, then sprinkle a layer of baking soda to absorb the liquids. Wait 15 minutes and scrape this away with a paper plate. Discard. Sponge the area with cool, soapy water to remove any discoloration. Blot it dry then spritz the area with a 50-50 mixture of vinegar and water to disinfect and deodorize. Blot again to ensure it’s completely dry.

How to Clean After a Party

Before you get started, rehydrate and fuel-up with a hearty breakfast so you’ve got the energy to handle it. If your head is a little wobbly, I’ve found that an old-fashioned fry-up of bacon and eggs plus some orange juice works miracles. Then I start with an over-all tidy and complete things with a room-by-room cleaning.

Step 1: Tidy up party areas.

Put away decorations or party supplies and return furniture to their original positions. Check behind and underneath sofas, chairs, and tables for hidden messes—half-empty glasses and uneaten food get left all over the place. You might also want to launder throw pillows or sofa blankets left sitting out during your party.

Step 2: Clean the bathrooms.

  • Clean and disinfect the countertop, faucet, sink, and toilet. If the party was wild, consider cleaning the tub and shower, too.
  • Clean and disinfect the light switches and doorknobs.
  • Polish the mirror and fixtures.
  • Restock toiletries and replace towels.
  • Empty the wastebasket.
  • Sweep and mop the floor.

Step 3: Clean the kitchen.

  • Start by emptying and refilling the dishwasher.
  • Clean countertops, stovetop, and other surfaces using an all-purpose cleaner.
  • Wipe down appliances such as the refrigerator, microwave, and oven.
  • Wipe down the kitchen table and chairs, including the undersides where spilled things may collect.
  • Wipe down light switch plates and doorknobs.
  • Clean the sink and drain thoroughly, removing any leftover food debris.
  • Run ice cubes through the garbage disposal to scour and deodorize them.
  • Go over the tabletop, chair arms, countertops, faucet, cabinet and appliance handles, light switch plates and door knobs with disinfecting wipes.
  • Empty and clean out the trash can.
  • Change the kitchen towels.
  • Sweep or vacuum the kitchen floors and mop.

Step 4: Clean the living room.

  • Arrange furniture back to its original position.
  • Dust and wipe down furniture, shelves, light switch plates, doorknobs, and other surfaces using a microfiber cloth.
  • Spot clean any stains on upholstery or carpets using appropriate cleaning methods.
  • Clean any glass surfaces or mirrors with a glass cleaner.
  • Go over doorknobs and light switch plates with a disinfecting wipe.
  • Vacuum the floors thoroughly, paying extra attention to seating areas.
  • Consider steam cleaning the carpet to disinfect and deodorize it, too.

Step 5: Clean the entryway.

  • Organize shoes and coats, returning them to their designated places.
  • Wipe down light switch plates and any surfaces, such as tables or shelves.
  • Clean the door, front and back, with soapy water. Rinse with a clean damp cloth.
  • Go over the doorknobs and light switch plates with a disinfecting wipe.
  • Clean the doormat or shake it out to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Sweep or vacuum the floors, removing any dirt or debris brought in during the party.

Step 6: Clean outdoor party areas.

  • Remove any trash or debris from the patio or deck area.
  • Remove any floating debris or leaves from the pool or hot tub using a skimmer.
  • Sweep or hose down the patio or deck to remove dirt or spills.
  • Clean any outdoor furniture, cushions, or accessories. Treat food spills and messes on patio cushions with 2 tablespoons of oxygen bleach stirred into 2 cups of cool water. Scrub the stain with a soft-bristled brush then rinse with a clean, damp cloth.
  • Check for any stains or marks on the patio or deck. Most will come up with a little soapy water, though you may want to deep clean your deck if there are multiple stains.
  • Test the pool or hot tub water quality and adjust chemicals if necessary.

Helpful Tips

To make the post-party clean-up even more manageable and efficient, keep the following tips in mind.

  • Enlist help. Delegate tasks to willing friends or family members. A post-party brunch is a great way to entice cleanup volunteers.
  • Pace yourself. Take brief breaks, hydrate, and listen to some upbeat music to keep your energy levels up.
  • Have a system. Work through each room or area methodically, focusing on one task at a time. This approach ensures that nothing is overlooked and prevents unnecessary backtracking.
  • Reward yourself. Once you’ve finished cleaning up after a party, indulge in some quiet self-care or do something else to relax and recharge.

Cleaning up after a party doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Remember to plan, enlist help, and take a systematic approach to post-party cleanup that won’t leave you dreading the next time you entertain guests.

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