The Morning After: 13 Lifesaving Party Cleanup Tips

Don't fear the cleanup! Once the last guest has left, make the most of your time with these helpful tips and cleaning tricks, all of which involve common household items you likely have on hand.
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Lip Color Smudges via avrilloreti

Lipstick can leave its mark on cloth napkins. Save them by scraping them clean, then apply drops of mineral spirits, working them in with a brush. Rinse with rubbing alcohol and repeat until you’re in the clear. Launder with an enzyme detergent to dissolve leftover residue.

Wax Removal

If holiday candles drip on your lovely wood furniture, there’s a solution. Warm the spilled wax with a hairdryer, and wipe it away with a cloth. Any remaining residue can be cleared off with a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water.

Broken Glass


To clean broken glass without getting cut, arm yourself with rubber gloves. Pick up the biggest pieces of glass first, and don’t forget to check under the furniture. Vacuum the area—glass can stick to brooms. Finish by pressing a slice of bread against the ground to pick up the smallest fragments.

Coffee Stains

Coffee loves carpet, but don’t despair at the sight of dark roast stains. Even dried stains can be lifted with a mix of baking soda and water. Cover the spot with the paste, then after it dries, scrub with a dry brush. Vacuum the area and watch the mark disappear.

Gum Removal

If your guests accidentally leave a gummy memory of their visit on your leather couch, don’t fret. Freeze the gum by applying ice. The gum should lift off in one piece. If not, reapply until the gum has hardened.

Don't Put a Ring on It

Alexander Rowley

Next year, remember to make enough DIY coasters for all, but for now, here’s a solution for white water rings. Create a gentle abrasive by mixing a teaspoon of salt with a few drops of olive oil. Rub it gently into the ring until the spot is gone. Massage some furniture polish into the surface to finish.

Streak-free Stainless Steel

Remove baked-on food from appliances with a mix of baking soda and liquid dish soap. Always wipe stainless steel dry in the direction of the grain. If cleanup leaves your stainless steel streaked, rub a little olive oil over it and buff with a soft cloth.

Red Wine Spills

Red wine on your carpet can be neutralized with white wine. Pour over the affected area and blot with a towel (don’t rub—that may set the stain). Remove the remaining red with soda water. If wine has already dried on clothing, pretreat the spot with shaving cream before washing to lift the pigment.

Double Bag

For faster cleanup, line the trashcan with two or more bags. That way, you’ll always have another bag in place when one fills up. Once bags are full, take them out the trash and replace and resume until everything has been collected for disposal.

Water Spots

To make quick work of glasses, plates, and serving pieces, take advantage of the dishwasher, and load it to capacity. Avoid hard water spots on glasses by using white vinegar in the dishwasher. The acid from the vinegar will dissolve the minerals before they’re deposited on your glassware.

Save a Sponge

If that heap of dishes stinks up your sponge, extend its life with this quick tip. Rinse the sponge and wring it out, leaving it moist. Zap it in the microwave for one minute, then let it cool. Be sure to keep an eye on the sponge while it microwaves, and don’t forget to pick up dish sponges on your next shopping trip.

Freshen Up

Say goodbye to last night’s party smells with a natural deodorizer. Place lemon halves in dishes around the room for a fresh scent. For more fresh scent enhancers, check out Clearing the Air: 10 Natural Ways to Remedy Household Odors.

Vacuum Everything

You can dust all you like, but after a big house party you’ll want to employ the vacuum to get up debris that’s become embedded in carpeting, and crumbs, confetti, and broken ornaments or glass on wood and tile floors. Don’t forget to vacuum sofa cushions and chairs as well, just in case an olive, cracker, or other unexpected token has taken up residence.