Having a party is fun and all, but every host dreads the morning after. As you roll out of bed, you don't know what lurks in the other room. Will you stumble across a sea of aluminum cans and sticky surfaces, or do you have only a few bottles to recycle? While you should hope for the latter, always prepare for the worst, especially if you're a college student or have friends who like to go all-out.
Despite the dread that accompanies cleaning up after a party, you shouldn't forgo hosting out of fear–then the mess will have won! Reclaim nights of celebration with these cleanup tips.
Cleaning Starts Before the Party
Make cleaning up after your bash easier and faster by battening down the hatches beforehand. Initially, close doors to rooms you don't want guests to visit (your bedroom). Store valuable or fragile items in the off-limits rooms.
Put paper towels and cloths in easy-to-grab locations so you can wipe up spills immediately. Set out two garbage bins–one for trash and one for recycling, and label them. This encourages your guests to clean up after themselves, making less work for you later.
When setting up food and drink, designate a surface for each. That way, alcohol spills, and crumbs won't travel far.
Check for Stragglers
Every house party runs the risk of having a few hungover individuals. When you wake up, make sure your apartment is all clear. Check your living room, bathroom and kitchen. If you do see someone, help them and shoo them out. Or, if it's a friend, let them sleep.
Toss the Obvious
As you survey the aftermath of your party, you're likely to see bottles, cans, and plastic cups. Fortunately, getting rid of these things is the easiest part of the post-party cleanup. Make sure to pour out any partially consumed beverages–no one is going to drink that anonymous liquid in the red solo cup.
If you see spills on your counter, wipe them up right away before they become a sticky mess. However, if you're cleaning in the morning, it might be too late.
Put your plastic, cans, and glass into a bag to bring to a recycling center, or put them in a recycling bin if your apartment offers collection service–that's right, party cleanup can be eco-friendly. Already, your apartment should look much better.
Don't forget to grab the cardboard cases you carried your drinks home in, and recycle them as well.
Keep Some Leftovers
Did you buy box wine for your party? If no one drank straight from the box, the liquid inside is safe to use. However, you can't really cork a box. Instead of letting it sit on the counter or in your fridge, pour the wine into ice cube trays. Then, you can use the cubes for recipes that call for wine.
As for beer and bottled wine: Cork the bottle and drink it later, but dump opened cans of beer. You can keep the closed bottles and cans in your fridge.
Fill the Dishwasher and Sink
Go through your apartment again, this time collecting reusable items, like ceramic plates and cups, and food dishes. If you have a dishwasher, rinse the items off, load up, and hit the start button.
If you don't have a dishwasher, plug the sink, put your dishes in it, and fill it with warm, soapy water. Your dirty dishes can soak while you do other chores.
Clean Surfaces and Stains
Now the real work begins. Grab an all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth (a sponge works too if you don't have one) and begin going through your apartment. You may pick one room to start with, such as the living room, then hit the others.
Wipe down all surfaces to ensure they aren't sticky from spilled drinks or food, and keep an eye out for marks. Try to clean stains with your regular cleaner first, and if that doesn't cut it, come back with more targeted tools-- baking soda and vinegar can work wonders!
Move on to the next room. You may save your bathroom for last, as that requires different cleaning tools.
Go through your rooms again now that party debris is gone and the surfaces are clean, and start straightening out. That may mean putting pillows back in place, folding blankets, and pushing chairs in under the dining table. Who knows, your paintings might even be crooked!
Basically, you want to get your apartment looking like normal at this point. Get things off the floor and put away any items that have been moved or left out.
Your floors may look totally OK, but if a lot of spills occurred, consider mopping. If you have carpet, go ahead and vacuum—crumbs have a way of getting into everything. Use the hose attachment to quickly go over your sofa and chairs.
Let's tally: Bottles and cups are in recycling, surfaces are cleaned, everything is straightened out and put away, and your floors are immaculate. That just leaves the dishes. If they've been soaking, scrubbing now should be a breeze.
If you have a dishwasher, put away the load you cleaned and start another. Depending on the size of your party, you could have a lot or only a few dishes.
Clean the Bathroom
Once your living room and kitchen are clean, you can devote time to the last stage of picking up to the bathroom. Clean it as you normally would any other day, wiping counters, scrubbing the toilet, and so on. Also, refill toilet paper and swap out dirty hand towels.
If you're lucky, the bathroom will be in good condition, and getting more toilet paper is all you'll have to do.
Getting your apartment back to normal after a party may seem daunting (do the bottles never end?), but with these steps, it'll feel like home in no time.