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It was a great party – but how will you deal with the aftermath?

15 July 2014

You spent ages planning and getting together everything needed to ensure that the occasion went as well as possible – but now that the crowd is beginning to dissipate as people head home, you can start to see the scale of the task which lies ahead of you to get your house looking right again.

While lots of time and effort probably went into the preparations for the event, you should also bear in mind that a similar level of organisation and work might be required to straighten everything out once everyone has gone home.

Start your prep before the event

Sounds counter-intuitive? Perhaps, but getting ahead of the game will make your clean-up task far easier. For example, you won't want to panic when you find you don't have any refuse sacks into which to dump all that uneaten food and disposable plates and glasses (if you went down that road).

A handy tip offered by the experts at Goodhousekeeping.com is to double, or even triple-line your waste bin. Then, you can lift out a full one, and have an empty replacement ready immediately.

Tackle the fastest fixes first

The greatest amount of devastation is likely to be found around the area where you served the food and drink. So if you clear this first, you'll probably find that you're left with a series of smaller jobs which will be more manageable.

Clear it of any food, then the cutlery and crockery, which you should pile close to your dishwasher (if you have one) or your sink if not. Finally, remove the tablecloth, and if you've used a reusable one, shake off any loose detritus. Check for any stains which might need pre-treating before you put it in the washing machine and do this if needed. You can find advice on tackling a range of specific stains on many different websites, so it's a good idea to arm yourself with a little knowledge beforehand.

Once you've tried this, fill your washing machine with warm water, add the requisite measure of detergent – directly in the drum – and leave it to soak overnight. Next, scan the left-over food and cover and refrigerate as quickly as possible anything which can be stored there. Any baked products, though, should simply be covered, as they can be left at ambient temperature once this is done.

There's no getting around physically scraping off left-over food into your rubbish bin – running pans and plates under the tap to loosen this detritus will simply block your plughole and, possibly, your drains further down too.

Once all that trash is bagged, tie it up and stand it by the door to be taken out first thing in the morning. Your last job before heading for bed should be to pre-treat and soak any pots and pans which you didn't get into the dishwasher first time around. These should be rinsed and left to soak overnight.

What if you spot some horrendous stain or spillage?

Again, forewarned is forearmed, so research the most common types of stain you might encounter, and be aware of steps you can take to mitigate potential long-lasting damage should you discover any of these during your clear-up. Ideally, your guests should be sufficiently courteous to warn you if they cause a spill so you can get to work on it straight away.

If you do find evidence of such a mishap, have the phone number of a specialist carpet and upholstery cleaning company handy so that you can get straight on the phone to them in the morning. If you explain that your need is urgent, they will try to fit you in as quickly as possible, which again will give its operative the best chance of successfully eradicating all traces of your (or your guests') earlier exuberances.

There's no need to let such a little incident deter you from ever welcoming guests through your door again – but if you put in a bit of preparation, know where to find help to clear up in the event of any emergency, and are ready to get to work promptly, you should find all the hard work involved in entertaining that bit easier to cope with.

Written by Steve Cox on behalf of carpet and upholstery cleaning company Chem-Dry.