We’ve all seen plenty of tips and hacks for backyard party preparation, from organizing to hosting and menus. But there are lots of things you can do to make backyard barbeque cleanup quicker and easier, too. Whether you’re throwing a small cookout or a large get-together to celebrate summer, what you do ahead of time can make the difference between a dreaded chore and fast cleanup. Don’t let hours of post-party cleanup ruin a perfectly good backyard gathering with these handy tips.
Create a Post-Barbeque Cleaning Checklist
Make cleanup faster and more thorough by making a checklist of cleaning tasks you need to do after everyone leaves. Many of these tasks are obvious, but a good list keeps you focused and efficient. Here are some common cleanup tasks you’re likely to encounter to get you started:
- Pick up any trash, leftovers and debris from tables and chairs outside and countertops indoors.
- Wipe down surfaces like tabletops, counters and chairs.
- Identify stains on cloth napkins, tablecloths and other washables for pre-treating.
- Put dishes used during the party in the dishwasher and hand wash the overflow while the dishwasher is running.
- Put away tables, chairs and other items you use during the party.
- Put kitchen and bathroom towels in the laundry hamper.
- Clean up the bathroom.
- Sweep, vacuum and mop.
- Separate recyclables and take out the trash.
Start With a Clean Slate
One of the best backyard party cleanup tips is to start with a clean home and yard. Your party venue looks great when your guests arrive, and you’ll have less to worry about after the party. Do a thorough cleaning of your home and outdoor space the day before the party so that you can relax and have fun.
Clean the Grill
Your grill and cooking area is the centerpiece of your backyard cookout and will often create the biggest mess. Just like you kick your barbeque off with a clean house, make sure your grill is nice and clean come party time. When your grill is clean, food cooks better and cleaning up is easier.
Before you start grilling, get the grill warmed up and lubricate the grates. A quick coating of cooking oil will help keep food from sticking so you end up with better burgers and less baked-on grime to clean later. When it comes time to wrap things up, clean your grill while it’s still warm to get any baked-on remnants off more easily.
When you’re thinking backyard party preparation, a great way to minimize cleanup is to think disposable. Plates, cups, utensils and serving trays that are disposable make cleaning up so much easier. Guests can throw away their plates and such when they’re done to handle their share of the cleanup. You’ll end up with less to gather up and wash after the barbeque is over. Choose sturdy disposable plates, trays and bowls in fun colors to give your party a festive feel or pick out plastic cups and utensils that look more like the real thing for a more upscale feel.
Disposable tablecloths are especially handy at the end of your backyard cookout. It’s easy to gather trash, spilled food and other debris when all you have to do is grab the corners of the tablecloth and use it as a big trash bag. Cleanup will be faster and the plastic construction of the disposable tablecloth does double-duty be preventing spills from soaking through to the tables.
Early Preppers Have More Fun!
Prepping food and getting things ready early keeps you from stressing out as party time approaches. You’ll have everything ready well ahead of time, have more time to clean as you get ready and get a jump on post-party cleanup so that you can enjoy your barbeque from start to finish. From marinating meats and putting salads together to prepping toppings and side dishes, the earlier you get started, the better.
Clean up while you’re prepping food and getting other things ready. It’s tempting to let dishes pile up while you’re prepping because you’re thinking about your fun party. Don’t do it! Wash the dishes and cookware you use and put them away as you are done with them. Sure, there’ll be more dishes and serving trays to clean up later, but you’ll be ahead of the cleanup game already. If you use the dishwasher, unload everything before guests arrive so that you’ll have an empty dishwasher for the dishes that accumulate during the cookout.
Besides food prep, you can save time and stress by designating which areas you’ll use for food, drinks and desserts. One of the best things you can do with your backyard party preparation is to place trash cans throughout your backyard strategically. Make sure you have them close to each table, the grilling area and anywhere you think your guests will congregate. Your guests will be inclined to use the trash cans during the party and they make it much easier to clean as you go.
Keep Cleaning Supplies Close to the Action
Spilled beverages and dropped plates are part of any backyard barbeque, so make sure your backyard party preparation includes strategically placed all-purpose cleaners and paper towels. Place a roll of paper towels and spray cleaner near serving tables, dining tables and anywhere else you can to make your post-party cleaning easier. Since you’re cleaning as you go anyway, these tools are great for catching messes before they cause stains or become harder to remove. Who knows, maybe your guests will catch on and lend a hand to make things even easier!
Clean As You Go
You don’t want to spend too much party time picking up and cleaning, but cleaning up as you go means faster cleanup after the cookout. When you’re cooking those delicious burgers and hot dogs, throw away any disposables you can while they’re cooking. Putting away any leftovers you want to save as soon as everyone is done eating is just one more cleaning chore you won’t have to tackle later.
Have food containers standing by for leftovers, rinse serving containers and other dishware but don’t worry about washing till later. Go ahead and put whatever you can in the dishwasher to get things out of the way and shorten cleanup time.
Use a Wet/Dry Vac for Faster Cleanup
That wet/dry vacuum in your garage is perfect for cleaning up spills, small debris and bits of food left behind after you barbeque. Use the vacuum on tables, chairs and even the ground to vacuum up as much as possible to save time picking up small messes.
Using your wet/dry vac to pick up pieces of trash and food you find scattered about keeps you from having to bend over so much and makes cleanup that much quicker. Be sure to empty the vacuum as soon as you’re done to keep any food or liquids from spoiling inside the vacuum container.
Don’t Let Cleanup Time Cut Into Party Time
Don’t worry about that post-party cleaning when you could still be spending time with family and friends. You’ve prepped for easier cleaning, you, and hopefully your guests, have been cleaning during the barbeque and you’ve set the stage for a quick and easy cleanup.
Enjoy your backyard barbeque and wait until everyone’s gone to finish up. It’s tempting to take a break once your backyard barbeque comes to a close, but you’ll find it easier, and more gratifying later, to jump right in. Take advantage of your pre-barbeque prepping strategies and your momentum and get your backyard cleanup out of the way before you lose your motivation.
Use these handy tips for backyard party preparation for your next barbeque and make your post-party cleanup fast and easy. You’ll enjoy your time with family and friends and turn a dreaded chore into a quick wrap up.