One of the most important things to do, before you get a well-deserved rest after your very successful dinner party, is to clean up.
This is the party none of us really enjoy, but is unfortunately very necessary. It’s best to start this as early as possible — provided all your guests have finished their meals, of course, you wouldn’t want them to feel rushed or unwelcome — so you can get to bed faster.
Here are five tips to help get the job done as quickly and painlessly as possible:
1. Disposing of the leftovers
There are several ways you can go about doing this:
Send them home with your guests.
If you have doggy bags, or takeaway containers, divide up the leftovers so your guests can take them home. Alternatively, if they brought their own plates, you can use those instead, after cleaning of course.
Leftovers, packaged and labelled - Andrew Nash, Flickr
Put them in the fridge.
If there’s not a lot of it, transfer the leftovers into a container and keep it in your fridge. Make sure to cover it, either with cling film or a lid.
Garbage or compost.
Ideally, you should have your dishes washed before bed, but it’s hard to have the motivation when you’re really tired. In these cases, you should at least rinse the food off the plates before stacking them in the sink, or leave them soaking in soapy water until you’re ready to get to them.
Dirty dishes - kbcanon, Flickr
The last thing you want is to wake up in the morning and have the leftovers glued to the plate’s surface, impossible to get off with a vigorous scrubbing.
The same goes for cups and tableware. If you’ve broken out the fancy cutlery and wine glasses for the occasion, these should be washed and dried properly, or at least left to soak. This will prevent stains and water spots, which are especially noticeable on silverware and wine glasses.
If you’ve used tablecloths, or cloth napkins and placemats, throw them into the washing machine. Start a load when you’re ready, and dry them if you have time. If not, you can start the load before bed and dry them in the morning. You wouldn’t want them to stain!
Dirty cloths - Ginny, Flickr
4. Quick Sweep and Wipe Down
You don’t have to clean every nook and cranny straight away, but doing a quick sweep for the most noticeable debris is always a good idea. Check for any dangerous objects lying around, such as broken bottles, or food crumbs. Save the vacuuming for the next day.
Or you can sweep the floor the fun way! Image by Windell Oskay, Flickr
Also give your dining table a wipe down with a wet cloth. In the same way as the dishes, you wouldn’t want them to accumulate food stains that would dry out and stick by the time you get around to it in the morning.
5. Garbage Disposal
Separate the garbage from the recycling, and dispose of accordingly. Make sure you have enough garbage bags on hand, or reuse some old plastic shopping bags.
Food waste should be disposed of in the bins outside, so you don’t have rotting food sitting inside your house overnight. Bottles and cans should be emptied in the recycling bin.
Try and delegate if you can, especially if family members and friends are willing to help. If nothing else, they’ll make for good company and conversation as you work, so time will pass quicker.
After all that is done, you’ve well and truly earned a good night’s rest. Congratulations!