How to clean up after the 4th of July – hosting and cleaning experts share their secrets

There’s nothing more daunting than cleaning up after a party – here’s how to make 4th of July cleanup simpler

(Image credit: Cavan Images via Getty Images)

Hosting the 4th of July can be a great honor, and it can be very rewarding to see your friends and family enjoying themselves in your home.

However, the joy usually comes to an abrupt end when it is time to clean up and reset your home after hosting – especially when it comes to cleaning a kitchen.

This daunting task needs not be overwhelming, however. Here, professional cleaners and hosting experts have shared their top eight cleaning tips for cleaning up after the 4th of July to help you keep your cool post-party.

How to clean up after the 4th of July

Before hosting, you should ensure that you have a fully stocked basket of essential cleaning supplies to make cleaning and tidying after your party simpler, begins Jeannine Rose, hosting expert and owner of Sweet Humble Home. ‘Include essentials like garbage bags, paper towels, and multi-surface cleaners so you can grab and go, tackling messes efficiently,’ she suggests.

With your essential tool kit in hand, you can start to tackle the mess.

1. Opt for disposable dinnerware

beautiful sun room dining room with round pedestal table and navy drapes

(Image credit: Alexandra Kaehler)

One of the easiest ways to clean up after a dinner party is to opt for disposable tableware to cut washing up out of the equation and save both time and energy, suggests Erin Zanelli, CFO and cleaning expert at Tranquil Home, a San Diego-based residential cleaning company. To keep this eco-friendly and stylish, they recommend picking up biodegradable bamboo plates and utensils for your 4th of July celebration.

‘Not only are they eco-friendly, but they also make clean-up a breeze. After the party, you can simply toss them into a compost bin, reducing the amount of waste and saving time on washing dishes,’ they share.

2. Designate clean-up stations

White cabinets, blue inside, kitchen sink

(Image credit: Marin Moore)

One of the best cleaning shortcuts to implement when hosting the 4th of July is to establish cleaning drop zones for guests to corral their mess for you. This then makes cleaning up after a breeze, continues Jeannine Rose, hosting expert:

‘Keep the madness managed by having clear, designated areas for eating, lounging, and activities. This helps contain potential messes to specific areas, making post-party cleanup more straightforward.

‘Make it easy for your guests (and yourself) by having clearly marked bins for trash and recyclables. You'll thank yourself later when you don't have to sort through a single, towering pile of refuse.’

3. Start with the highest-traffic areas

A kitchen with wood finishes and a marble island

(Image credit: Studio Thomas James)

If you still find yourself cleaning when overwhelmed after the 4th of July, consider starting in the highest traffic areas and working your way around the less dirty areas. This might seem like a stressful approach, but it will ensure that the messiest spots are tackled before they get worse, says Alda Larios of eMaids Inc.

‘This could be the living room or dining room. Collect all the trash and recyclables first, then move on to vacuuming or sweeping the floors. A damp mop can help pick up any remaining dirt or sticky spots.’

4. Use easy to clean materials

apartment/garden patio idea with outdoor table and chairs, candles, cushions, lanterns

(Image credit: Neptune)

It might be too late to design a kitchen that is easy to clean, but you can pick up easy-to-clean materials for your hosting spots, such as your dining table, suggests Erin Zanelli, CFO and cleaning expert:

‘For outdoor spaces like patios and pool areas, use materials that are easy to wipe down. Consider placing outdoor rugs that can be shaken out and hosed down after the party,’ they recommend. ‘Use tablecloths or placemats that are machine-washable or disposable. These simple preparations will make it easier to clean up spills and crumbs quickly.’

5. Invest in a wet-dry vacuum

If you are frequently cleaning up big messes, or just love to host, Taylor Reily, cleaning expert and co-owner of Impact Cleaning Professionals recommends upgrading to a wet-dry vacuum cleaner:

‘My pro tip for cleaning up during and after the 4th of July is by having a wet dry vacuum cleaner and mop on hand. As a professional cleaner, I’ve seen my fair share of mop buckets and spreading around dirty water is not an effective way to clean your floors.

‘The benefit of the wet dry vacuum is the cleaning solution is sprayed onto the floor, the scrubber gently agitates the surface, and the vacuum suctions up the liquid and into a canister (rather than leaving behind dirty mop water).

‘While having one of these on hand is beneficial year round, during a 4th of July party it can come in especially handy when your house is more crowded than usual. Any spills or messes can be quickly cleaned without having to bring out a broom and mop bucket.'

6. Clean the grill while it is warm

Outdoor kitchen with a formal seating area attached

(Image credit: Caesarstone)

Cleaning a grill is one of the toughest cleaning tasks after hosting the 4th of July, which is why Ryan Knoll, cleaning expert and owner of Tidy Casa suggests you clean it while it is still warm before the grease has a chance to harden:

‘While the grill is still warm (not hot!), take a lemon, slice it in half and use the open side. Run it along the grills. The heat from the grill and the acid from the lemon will start to break up the grill gunk. Then, use a wire brush to scrape off any remaining food residue. For a deeper clean, a mix of vinegar and baking soda works wonders too.

‘After the party, place the BBQ grates in a large bag with water and dish soap to soak overnight,’ he adds.

7. Don’t forget the patio

Patio with striped rug and white sofa and sun umbrella

(Image credit: Lulu & Georgia)

If the majority of your party took place outside you will need to clean your patio to prevent sticky spills from attracting pests or turning green, reminds Ryan Knoll, cleaning expert.

‘Start by using a normal broom to remove loose debris like leaves, dust, or crumbs,’ he begins. ‘ A hose then works wonders here. I’d start with some dawn dish soap on any surfaces with sticky residue or areas that won’t come clean with just water. Spread it around evenly and let it sit for 30 seconds to a minute to break up any grease.

‘Then spray down with the hose. Done! Be careful around wood decks, they can be extra sensitive depending,’ he warns.

Avoid some common patio cleaning mistakes by removing all of your furniture first and avoiding using harsh chemicals.

8. Complete the final checks

A breakfast nook in a kitchen with yellow upholstered seating, cafe curtains and a marble kitchen island in the foreground

(Image credit: Future / Dominic Blackmore)

‘Once everything's back in its place, give your space a final walkthrough with a trash bag and recycling bin in hand to catch any missed items,’ suggests Jeannine Rose, hosting expert. ‘A swift vacuum or sweep through high-traffic areas will bring back that pre-party clean feel.’


How do you clean up after fireworks?

If you have used fireworks at a party, it is helpful to clean them up by filling a metal bucket with water and putting the used fireworks in there to let them soak. This helps to prevent any accidental fires or sparks from leftover residue. It is best to dispose of them in a fireproof receptacle, or at least double-bag them before putting them in the trash.

Should guests help to clean up?

If guests offer to help you clean up after a party, it is always a good idea to accept their help. Not only will it make cleaning up quicker, but it can help to develop a deeper bond with them as you spend some downtime together. Avoid ‘bullying’ guests into helping to clean up, however, as it might sour the mood. Asking for a helping hand is fine, but demanding their help after you have hosted can bump you down the list of potential hosts in the future.

Of course, if you really want to take the pressure off or if you anticipate a large number of guests, you can consider hiring a cleaning crew for the day after the party, suggests Erin Zanelli, CFO and cleaning expert. ‘If that’s not an option, enlist a few friends or motivate your family to clean to help with specific tasks like gathering trash, washing dishes, and wiping down surfaces. Having a team to tackle the clean-up will significantly speed up the process and make it less overwhelming.'

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.