How to clean up after a party

Essential tips and tricks to clean up easily and efficiently after party. Oh yes, people, we tackle red wine stains, vomit, grease, grime, the lot...

mop cleaning up party decorations by getty images
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hosted a party (raucous or otherwise) and been left with the devastation of the night before? Then you'll be looking for advice on how to clean up after a party...

Whether you're after quick and easy tips to clean up as efficiently as possible, can't trust your hungover brain to know where to start or are frantically searching for ways to get red wine stains out of a cream carpet before it's too late, our guide skilfully advises you how best to clean up after a party.

If you're into cleaning (yes, some of us really do enjoy it), check out all our cleaning hacks and advice to say hello to a clean home. 

1. Gather together all of your cleaning essentials

Get on your cleaning clothes and gather together everything you're going to need to tackle this post-party cleanse. You may need your rubber gloves...

Not sure what you're going to need? Our checklist breaks it down room-by-room.


Living room and bedrooms


2. Open the curtains and get some air circulating 

What's worse than the smell of last night's alcohol or (gasp, literally) cigarette smoke? The smell of last night's alcohol and smoke mixed with the smell of last night's slightly sweaty guests, all of whom danced over zealously at some point or other to Come On Eileen, and whatever you served up to eat. 

So, make a start by drawing all the curtains to maximise daylight (helps to see what you're cleaning, too), and opening enough windows to create a through-draught. This doesn't have to be for too long if you're cleaning up after a party in the depths of winter, but long enough to air the room and leave it/you feeling refreshed.

3. Collect and dispose of all the empty bottles 

Collect all the empty glasses and bottles lying around, pouring away anything unfinished and putting recyclables in a strong and sturdy bag. 

Do the same for any nibbles that may have been left over. Discard of anything that's seen the better days or store in airtight boxes. Annnddd, empty ashtrays, rinse and put them in the dishwasher.

Doing all this now will mean that by the time you come back down to the main party room, it will at least smell sweeter, and you can concentrate on cleaning not clearing.

4. Stack the dishwasher

Place as much of your dinnerware, as well as additional glasses, nibbles bowls and any other crockery that's been used in the dishwasher.

Make sure you've checked every room of the house before setting the dishwasher to start, you'll be surprised where people leave their glasses. 

Untidy guests is one of biggest annoyances to people hosting or throwing parties

(Image credit: getty)

5. Start with the room furthest away from the kitchen

When embarking on a mass clean, it's always a good idea to start with the affected room that's furthest away from the kitchen as this will prevent you from trailing through rooms that have already been cleaned. Choose an order that makes the most sense for your home, but we'd start with the bathroom, then do the kitchen and the hallway last – especially if you'll be piling rubbish bags that may potentially leak or spill over the hallway floor as you go. 

6. Clean rooms one-by-one

Adopting a methodical approach is most effective when embarking on a whole-house clean. Follow our top tips in order to make tackling each room quicker and easier.

Cleaning the bathroom

  • Take on the toilet first. Open the lid and spray the seat with multi-purpose bathroom spray, wiping with a microfibre cloth assigned to the toilet. Then, squirt the rim of the bowl with toilet cleaner. If anyone has been sick (we're looking at you, teens), we'd also recommend dropping in an Astonish Power Toilet Tab for a deep clean. Then close the lid. Need more help? Check out our guide to cleaning a toilet and if you really need more help check out the 10 best ways to clean up vomit.
  • Fill the bath and sink with warm water, before adding a dash of Flash Cleaner. Leave the cleaning solution to do its thing while you tackle the rest of the bathroom. If your bath needs a deeper clean, first ask yourself why on earth anyone was in it last night, then give our guide to cleaning the bath a read. Find more guidance on cleaning a bathroom sink in our step-by-step, too.
  • In the meantime, take a multi-purpose spray and tackle any mirrors and surfaces with a clean microfibre cloth.
  • Take your multi-surface cleaner and give the shower a quick once over, too. While we don't imagine it was too affected during the party, it's worth giving it a quick clean while you're here. Our handy guide to cleaning the shower talks you through the steps.
  • Once the cleaning solutions have had their chance to work, open the toilet lid and give the bowl a good scrub with a toilet brush. Flush a couple of times and voila.
  • Empty the bath and sink before grabbing a clean microfibre cloth and giving each a quick once over with your multi-purpose bathroom spray. 

Cleaning the living room and bedrooms

  • Grab your polish and duster, tackling surfaces one by one, working all around the room in one direction.
  • Strip any beds (or sofa beds) that may have been slept on, organising bedding into colour categories and placing in the washing machine. We’d recommend using the Method Wild Lavender Detergent. While this should suffice in terms of cleaning up, for any suspicious-looking stains we’d recommend reading our guide to cleaning a mattress.
  • Combine Zoflora with water in a handy spray bottle, spritzing curtains and soft furnishings for a refreshed space.
  • If your carpets have seen some heavy damage, go and have a read of our guide to cleaning a carpet where you find everything you need to restore them back to the state they were in before you had the bright idea of being a host. 


  • So, you've already removed food, which means you can get stuck straight in to the cleaning.
  • Start by spraying the oven with oven cleaner – after cooking for guests (or mustering up late night snacks), it’s worth giving it a deep clean. Once the oven is covered in cleaner, close the door and leave it to work its magic while you tackle the rest of the kitchen. Our guide to cleaning the oven offers more tips, too.
  • Squirt the hob with Cif Cream Cleaner and leave it to take on any grease and grime.
  • Remove any dry plates from the drying rack and place back in the cupboards. By this point any crockery that needs cleaning should either be in the dishwasher or have been washed up.
  • To tackle stainless steel – taps for example – we’d recommend the Cif Stainless Steel Spray, although you'd rather go chemical-free, the best steam cleaners are fantastic at quickly removing grime. Use our guide to cleaning stainless steel for more advice.
  • Brush any crumbs from your surface, then spritz with an anti-bacterial spray. We love the fruity rhubarb scent of the Method Anti-Bacterial Spray. Wipe surfaces with your microfibre cloth.
  • Once the hob and oven cleaners have had time to work, wipe away using a cloth and give one final spray with multi-purpose cleaning spray.


  • Remove any bottles for recycling and place cigarette butts in a plastic bag and then in your main, outdoor bin.
  • Take a broom and brush away any crumbs or party remnants. 

Drunken guests and latecomers are most likely to annoy hosts according to research by ScS

(Image credit: Getty)

7. Leave the floors until last

Avoid having to repeat work by tackling the floors last. Working, once again, from the room furthest away from the kitchen to the room closest, start by vaccuming (yes, even rooms with hard floors), removing as much surface level dust and dirt as possible. Our guide to the best vacuum cleaners will help you out if yours has seen better days.

For rooms with carpet, you may want to use a specialist carpet cleaner to lift out any deep-set grime. This is the same for rugs. Make sure you're ready to tackle stains straight away next time by stocking up on the best carpet cleaning products.

If you've got hard flooring – wood, tile or stone for example – mop with water and this Multipurpose Cleaner from Flash. Leave to dry before re-entering the room. Use our buyer's guide to the best mops to get a fast, easy shine. Cleaning tiles? Don't miss our guide to the best floor tile cleaners to cut the grime and the elbow grease. And, if you'd rather leave it to technology, you might like to invest in a specialist hard floor cleaner – have a read of the Kärcher FC5 hard floor cleaner review if you think you might brave hosting a party again...

8. Spot treat any problem areas – red wine, vomit and other soft furnishing stains

Any problem areas – we're talking stains in rugs, carpets or other soft furnishings – that haven't been dealt with at the time should be spot treated using specialist stain removal solutions. We like Dr Beckmann Carpet Stain Remover for tackling stains in rugs, carpets and other soft furnishings. 

In the case of tricky stains – we're looking at you, red wine – a carpet cleaning machine may be your only hope at this late stage (normally, we'd advise blotting, soaking with soda water, more blotting, more soda water, more blotting and finally a good carpet cleaning product – note: never use white wine or salt, they leave a mark). Use our guide to cleaning up red wine stains if that method doesn't work.

Take a look at our guide to the best carpet cleaning machines if you've come across a really stubborn stain – they're handy to have year round, particularly if you have pets.

If you want more advice on how to treat a specific stain, don't worry, we've got you covered:

9. Make your home feel like home again

Now that your home is feeling more like home, light your favourite candles to restore that cosy feel. Our guide to the best home scents for every room is a must read if you're seeking new inspiration when it comes to choosing a scent for your home.

Looking for more home freshening tips?

Emily Shaw

Emily first (temporarily) joined the Real Homes team while interning on her summer break from university. After graduating, she worked on several publications before joining Real Homes as Staff Writer full time in mid-2018. She left the brand in 2020 to pursue another career, but still loves a second-hand bargain and sourcing unique finds to make her rented flat reflect her personality.