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Cleaning up after a big event


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I try to remember two things: 1)How much fun the party was 2) That I don't really have to do it all before bedtime. Without these two things firmly in mind, the prospect of the cleanup can assume horrifying proportions.

Fill up the dishwasher and start 'er up. Toss anything that can be tossed: cocktail napkins, contents of ashtrays, the Detritus of Dinner. Pack away the leftovers, toss the empty bottles into the recycle bin. Replace the garbage bag...it's a morale booster for next morning not to have an overflowing garbage can.

All this should give you a square foot of counterspace on which to prepare breakfast tomorrow.

Start soaking anything soakable. Sweep the kitchen floor. If you're extra perky, which happens to me rarely, empty the dishwasher, refill and start. Leave the glasses and anything needing hand-washing for tomorrow.

When you mention waterstains on furniture, I'm assuming you mean wooden furniture. Here's the simplest low-tech solution I know: Grab the jar of mayo from the fridge, and gently rub a half-teaspoon onto those water rings on the coffeetable. (You are allowed to curse the guests who didn't use a coaster.) Wipe off the greasy film...the water ring should have faded. If not, give it another treatment tomorrow.

Rugs can wait, and I too would like a rec on an affordable kickass vacuum cleaner.

Drink a glass of water, take two aspirin, and hit the old sackeroo.

Edited by maggiethecat (log)

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I don't know if this is exactly what you're looking for, but this is something of a specialty of mine, since we entertain frequently and I made an agreement with my SO long ago that I'd clean if he'd cook (since I can think of very few people who would willingly eat my cooking). For the record, we do not own a dishwasher OR a garbage disposal (the joy of living in NYC), and we have relatively limited space (LOTS of space for NYC, but not so much for anywhere else), so I've adopted a plan of action that takes this into account and makes the room being cleaned as comfortable as possible for anyone (SO, roomies) who may be up, about, reading newspaper, drinking coffee, etc.

If possible, I like to do it all at once immediately after the event, to get it over with, but more often a party ends late and I'm a...tad...tipsy (read: stinking plastered) by then, so here's my strategy.

What you need:

Rubber gloves (I like to use these, then my hands don't get all dried out & bleachy)

tons of paper towels

lots of clean dishtowels for drying and dusting

lots of dish soap

Clorox Clean-up spray

Windex all-purpose spray (I like the vinegar surface cleaner but don't mix it with the clorox!)

a vacuum (I can't weigh in on which is best, since ours is a truly kickass vintage all-metal Electrolux)

a broom

a dustpan

a mop

your favorite mopping liquid (I like to pour a little formula 409 into the water--gets things clean & shiny)

a bunch of trash bags

During the event:

If it's a sit-down dinner, I try to at least rinse/soak the dishes from each course as we clear them. Frequently, in the "plating" time between courses, I'll have the chance to quickly wash the dishes from the previous course, then put them away as I wash the dishes after the NEXT course, if that makes any sense. I sometimes enlist our roommate, his girlfriend or a good friend for help with this

After the event:

No matter what time it is or how wobbly I am, I PUT THE FOOD AWAY (the one time I didn't do this, we ended up wasting some perfectly fabulous machaca that was one of my few cooking outings) and put any dishes that will fit to soak in the sink (especially things like roasting pans that might have food kind of stuck to them). I also try to gather up the trash (empty wine bottles, corks, whatever) and bag it and assemble the glassware on the kitchen counter. Then I go to bed.

The morning (well, morning to me. Usually early afternoon in real time) after:

I put on some good cleaning music (the soundtrack to "O brother, where art thou" is lovely, but anything lively & danceable but not TOO loud will do. I'd probably play Eminem if the SO wouldn't stab me with a fork) The very first thing I clean is the kitchen--I can't think if my kitchen isn't clean. The order, and I follow it STRICTLY, is as follows:

Dishes (wash/dry/put away)

Silverware (ditto)

pots/pans (ditto)

move glassware to sink, clean off kitchen counter (spray w/Clorox Clean-up and wipe down), spread clean dishtowels on kitchen counter. Wash glassware, then set upside down on dish towels to dry.

Clean stovetop (remove burners, spray with Clorox Clean-up, wipe off. I wash the burners w/soap & water if they need it)

I spray down and wipe off my cabinets with Clorox Clean-up, too.

Sweep kitchen floor so it's debris-free

If needed, mop kitchen floor.

Then, when I can breathe again, I get started on the dining/living room. First I move any chairs/tables that have been displaced to somewhere where they won't get in my way. Then, I use the dustbuster to vacuum random food bits off the tablecloth before I put it into the laundry basket (actually, I use the dustbuster to vacuum random bits of stuff off the living room furniture too).

Sweep dining room floor, sweep living room floor.

Water stains--well, actually *blush* the only time this has happened was a party at which I went to bed before cleaning up, and the next morning the stains were, well, dry, and gone. So I don't know what to say about that. For other stains, though--it's been my experience that seltzer will take out damn near anything, including red paint (out of a beige couch).

Use foaming rug cleaner if necessary, then vacuum the crap out of the living room rug.

Browbeat SO/roommate into taking out the three or four big bags of trash that have accumulated.

Then I change out of my cleaning clothes into my South Park pants, take my coffee and the paper into the living room and enjoy the rest of the morning.

I find if I do this RIGHT AWAY and follow my routine, it gets done within an hour (I think the MOST time I have spent cleaning up after a party was two hours, and that was a really serious bash) and then I can do whatever else I want for the rest of the day.

I hope this helps.

K

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My kitchens always look like hell after a decent dinner. After any dinner really. My wife complains that I learned to cook (as a waiter) by watching chefs who had an endless supply of dishwashers to cover for them.

Pretty much the only time I drink coffee after dinner is when I'm going to be confronting a war-zone kitchen and dining room once the guests leave. Get the first load of dishes in the washer as soon as possble -- even before dessert. Get your friends gone before the caffeine wears off.

Then, hunt through the CDs for something old and fun -- some Dead, some Beatles, something fun and undemading and mostly uptempo. Save the leftovers first, separate the wine bottles into the recyclables and the ones that still have a glass or two in the bottom, so you'll know what to sip while cleaning. If present and not asleep on the couch, divvy up the first phase with the significant other, clearing versus rinsing or whatever.

And then change out of your party wear, roll up your sleeves, turn up the tunes, savor the wine buzz, and get ready to get wet. If you've ever washed dishes in a restaurant, you know the drill.

I usually make a deal with myself. "I'll keep going at least until the end of (what used to be called) the first side of Exile on Main Street" By then, the dining and the living room are livable again, and there is tangible progress in the kitchen. That usually is energizing enough for another 20 minutes of tunes and cleaning, by which time you can go to bed guilt-free or power on to the end.

Actually, after a really nice meal, the kind that really leaves a wreck, I kind of enjoy doing the dishes. It's something to do with your hands while you drink wine and listen to old music, once you've quit smoking. A chance to chat over the meal with my wife, our first exchange since she yelled "what the hell am I supposed to do with the buerre blanc!" as the fish course was coming out. A little self-congratualtion and a little self-criticism and a little gossip in the steam and the clatter.

In the "Myth of Sisyphus," Camus wrote that he imagined Sisyphus taking pleasure in his absurd and endless task (just like keeping my kitchen clean), enjoying the physical toil of rolling the rock, the textures and the smells of the work. I like getting all soggy and wrinkly after trying to look respectable for the guests, and I like doing something mindless and repetitive after spending all day planning and executing.

Then "drink a glass of water, take two aspirin and hit the old sackaroo."

In the morning, congratulate yourself on your enterprising nature, and have the runny cheese and now extra-crusty bread you forgot to put away for breakfast. Do not drink the champagne, it is ghastly.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I try to remember two things: 1)How much fun the party was 2) That I don't really have to do it all before bedtime.

Could you please tell my mother these secrets? A party that she has to host simply isn't fun for her because of the responsibilities involved: cooking, cleaning, keeping the guests entertained, etc. As soon as the guests leave, if not sooner, she is in the kitchen, cleaning up everything. And she NEVER leaves a dirty dish on the counter before bed. Not even in the sink. She is a neat freak in general, doing a complete cleanup of the house before any company arrives, making it look like nobody lives there at all. She is the type who cleans the house before the housecleaners come. :sad: So basically, she pays them to walk around and go "Damn, she does a better job than we do."

So, in an effort to be the complete opposite of her, I am a total slob. :biggrin:

Perhaps we should start a thread called "Rants about mothers".

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I am a clean as you go freak when cooking so I usually don't have much to clean up from the cooking. I don't do a really big bash very often but I have found that hiring someone to keep up with dishes, serving, putting the food away, etc. is well worth it and not as expensive as you might think, especially when you think about what you spend on a party for 40 or 50. There is usually someone that my housekeeper or a friend knows that wants to make a bit of extra cash and will be willing to stay until after it is over and do the final clean up. Enterprising students are usually a good source as well and may even have serving experience. Then I can relax, enjoy the party, secure in the knowledge that I have helped a fellow human being in need and can nurse my hangover in tranquility the next morning.

Then there are the medium size bashes where we are all very good friends and it is understood that we don't leave the host with a mess. It has just evolved like that.

On vacuum cleaners... My daughter asked for a vacuum cleaner for her birthday and had researched it and got recommendations from friends. She knew I wasn't going to spring for a Meile so she chose a Hoover upright bagless with on-board tools. She says it is amazing.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Find a partner who agrees to do the cleaning if you do all the cooking.  There is no better system.

Hey, this is exactly what I have :biggrin: I generally do all the cooking for dinner party, so my husband cleans up mostly. He will usually load the dishwasher while the coffee is being made for after dinner (it's usally a hazelnut decaf coffee), and put leftovers away.

Once everyone is gone, he'll unload and reload the dishwasher and put all the linens in the washing machine. Wipe down the kitchen counters, put the china and silverware on the dining room table (I usually insist of putting that stuff away myself)

Then we'll sit down, have a glass of port, take two aspirin and go to bed. :biggrin: The rest gets done in the morning. Since I am always up first, I'll unload the dishwasher while I'm making morning coffee (definately not decalf) and sweep the floor. When he gets up, he will vacumn usually.

If we are having a BBQ, 98% of the time, he'll be bbqing and I'll be doing the sides, so we generally clean up together when everyone is gone. Our cardinal rule is that one person must be entertaining the guests at all times, so we don't both go and clean up.

As far as vacumns go, I have central vac which I never use. I swear by my Hoover upright, and Hubby likes the canister vacumn. - Not that I ever vacumn. Huby does, or the cleaning person does :biggrin:

We've long had the debate as to whether we should have the cleaning person before or after a party. My preference is before, since I've got enough to do cooking wise, I'd rather not be running around cleaning. :unsure:

edit: if we are having a really really big bash, we hire a caterer, server and bartender usually :cool:

Edited by Marlene (log)

Marlene

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Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Find a partner who agrees to do the cleaning if you do all the cooking.  There is no better system.

Hey, this is exactly what I have :biggrin: I generally do all the cooking for dinner party, so my husband cleans up mostly.

I've got the same deal as well.

Pre-party, my husband is responsible for all the cleaning. This is because he works out of the house, mostly on the dining table, and I refuse to touch his stuff (I don't want to blamed if he can't find something).

Post party, the first thing we do is put away all the food. Then all the dishes and cutlery gets rinsed and placed in the dishwasher. Frequently, we have to do two loads. If we're using silver, it all gets washed by hand. The garbage is never tossed until all the cutlery is washed and counted - I learned my lesson after throwing out a salad fork. Then the pots are washed. Normally by this time my husband is complaining he's exhausted and I have to plead with him to finish as I hate being greeted by a mess when I walk into the kitchen in the morning. After all these years we've got the clean up down to a science, but inevitably, there is always a bowl or pitcher that doesn't get washed for 2 or 3 days.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

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One thing we've found is you can clean as you go. You can usually hire somebody for about $12 an hour or less to do this, serve some stuff, and do some (if not all) of the cleanup at the end. You get to enjoy the party a lot more and there's a lot less to clean at the end of the night. Plus you don't have to worry about running out of glasses, etc. if someone is washing and drying them as they are abandoned by guests.

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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The followup to the Potluck was pretty typical, except that I didn't cook that night. When I do, for a dinner party, it's not that different; just one more pile of pots to wash later. Mostly I clean as I go when cooking, so even then there isn't much extra.

I too am of the "put the salvageable food away first, no matter what" school. If it was good enough for the party, it's good enough to eat again; but only if it hasn't turned questionable from sitting out all night. And of course, I'm one of those hosts incapable of cooking just enough -- just enough means there wasn't enough for thirds, and that is not allowable. :raz:

But of course I can't just put the food away; I have to update my freezer/fridge inventory. :wacko: At least, only by hand; the computer update can wait until the next month-end shopping trip.

One dishwasher load gets done. Since we never use the dry cycle, and everything has to air-dry, that precludes being able to put that first load away until the next day. :whew: Everything else needing to be washed is brought into the kitchen, though, and stacked in the sink, on the counters, on the kitchen table, on the stove -- wherever there's a flat surface. Dishes are scraped. Those in the sink are rinsed until the pile in the sink becomes too high to fit anything else under the tap. HWOE helps bring stuff into the kitchen, and may sometimes load the machine, but I tell him where to pile things, and can't imagine him ever packing up leftovers. :huh:

That's it for the night of. No vacuuming. No cleaning tables, except for taking a damp cloth to sticky spots. No water spots to deal with, since tabletops are either glass or highly polyurethaned.

Next morning the first clean load is put away (either of us); floor/rug vacuumed (usually HWOE). Whoever didn't put the dishes away loads the second batch. And so it goes.

I never mind the cleanup. As Maggie said, it just reminds me of how much fun we all had. :biggrin:

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I never mind the cleanup.  As Maggie said, it just reminds me of how much fun we all had.  :biggrin:

I'm with you. The group clean-up with close friends is part of the fun. Even if I have things to clean the morning after, it is a rememberance. Goes to show you... attitude has a lot to do with it. Why not adjust your attitude and make the supposedly "bad thing" a positive.

(Pollyanna suit now going back into the closet.)

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I am extremely impressed by these precision strategies. I try to clean up before going to bed--or at least wash all of the dishes so that all I have to do the following morning is put everything away. It still takes time to put everything into its specific place (remember, New York apartment—it’s like a puzzle) but it's not too overwhelming.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Crumbs ground deep into the rugs. Water stains on the furniture. Piles and piles of china, silver, and crystal.

How do you handle it?

(Side note I am in the market for a new vacuum cleaner; which ones really kick but don't cost $800 like a Miele?)

For home entertaining consisting of 20 guests or more. Rent all of the stemware. Saves a lot of stress and time.

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I do not put sterling flatware, crystal or my good china in the diswasher. I usually give the sterling a good rinse or soak to remove any salt residue to prevent pitting/corrusion.

Next I soak all pans but due to lack of counterspace, I stick the pans on the stove or in the oven until I get the sink cleared. Pans are usually washed last. Linens are thrown in the washer.

Then I go from the front of the house to the back-claearing dishes, napkins, glasses and left over food-it all ends up in the kitchen. I then put leftovers away. By now the dishwasher needs to be unloaded and reloaded.

I then wash the plates and let them airdry until I need the countertop to do the flatware. A quick hand dry and the plates are back on the dining room table to be put away in the morning. The same process is repeated with the stemware and flatware. Then I tackle the oversized platters and special plates that can not go into the dishwasher. I finally do the pans. If I can not get them clean without real effort, I will let them soak overnight. Counters are wiped down. I am off to sleeep. The floors and table tops (unless wood) are dealt with in the morning.

Re friends-I like to clean my way and do not want the help. We have a rule-I won't help at your house and you won't help at your house. However I always seem to be doing dishes at other houses. I like to help.

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.....(Side note I am in the market for a new vacuum cleaner; which ones really kick but don't cost $800 like a Miele?)

Wife just got the ORECK at Chrismas, the small 'under-arm' cannister one came with it. She loves it, well I do to, and my 12 year old is really into Vacuuming! I think we paid around $ 375. Have to ask ( I don't have any money , she got it)

Peter
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Our biggest clear up is New Years's Eve.The last one was the first that my wife was not working alongside me,so there was just me to clear up.I just couldn't face it after an 18 hour day so i left it.....and we went away for 2 days :shock: proudly leaving the room a complete disgrace.Streamers, balloons, champagne bottle etc etc.When we came back,David my chef had cleared 90% of it up..what a star!

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Unless you have a real mess a vacuum like the Eureka True HEPPA is good and is under $200.00 and 12Amp motor. I would be curious about some of the new bagless units in the same price range. For all else a $30.00 shop vac does well. It can be used as a power cleaner shortcutting time. Napkins, ashes and butts along with most items under 2 inches wet or dry.

Living hard will take its toll...
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Now that shop vac idea has merit! I've never thought of that.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Had a huge Kirby for over 30 years but it was a real pain - too heavy and too cumbersome so got a Miele and it didn't cost anywhere near the prices I'm seeing here! Less than $400 Canadian and I love it! Has all the tools on board. Used a Eureka bagless at work and it was horrid! My vacuum shop refuses to carry any bagless vacs - says the motors burn out very quickly as the dust gets inside them. Don't know how true this is.

For what it's worth.

Anna N

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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We have a Dyson vaccuum - the $400 one they sell at Best Buy. There's a more expensive Dyson geared for dog owners I wish I'd known about before buying the one we have, but the one we have does a very good job on all the dog hair and everything else.

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Unless you have a real mess a vacuum like the Eureka True HEPPA is good and is under $200.00 and 12Amp motor. I would be curious about some of the new bagless units in the same price range.

This certainly sounds like a promising option. I really do need something heavy duty though because aside from crumbs getting ground into the carpet, there's also the constant issue of dog hair--all day, every day.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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got a Miele and it didn't cost anywhere near the prices I'm seeing here!  Less than $400 Canadian and I love it!  Has all the tools on board.  Used a Eureka bagless at work and it was horrid!  My vacuum shop refuses to carry any bagless vacs - says the motors burn out very quickly as the dust gets inside them.  Don't know how true this is.

For what it's worth. 

Anna N

Hell, I'd go to Canada just to buy a Miele--if they're that much less! I really haven't used one in years but I'm telling you, the one I used day in day out the summer I was cleaning houses was like a revelation.

As for the bag-less vacs, I'm skeptical. Anyway, what's the big deal about changing the bag?

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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