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Memorial Day Cookout Cleaning Hacks

Aside from school letting out, nothing quite signifies summer like a Memorial Day cookout. Bathing suits and colorful towels make an appearance. The pool is clean. Barbecued chicken and veggie burgers sizzle on the grill. What could go wrong? 

Well, summer cookout foods are not known for being bland in color. Popsicles, ice cream and watermelon can leave nasty stains, as can ketchup and mustard. Additionally, carrying items in and out for the cookout can result in spills. Finally, after you use the grill, you’re going to have to clean it. 

But don’t let those thoughts dampen your plans to host an amazing summer kickoff! Learn how to prepare and tackle the inevitable messes that may arise. 

Prepping for a Cookout

The key to not letting most messes ruin your day is proper preparation. If you have the supplies you need on hand, you’ll be able to tackle dropped food and spills with grace. Here are some professional pointers for cookout prep: 
  • Place multiple trash cans around your cookout area.
  • Use plastic-lined tablecloths.
  • Slide cupcake liners under popsicles to catch melting juice.
  • Serve clear or light-colored punches and drinks that won’t stain clothes.
  • Set up a buffet-style table so guests can help themselves, rather than having to reach. (This can reduce your odds of having to clean spilled drinks.)
  • Make sure there are plenty of napkins around.
  • Have an emergency clean-up caddy stashed nearby containing the following:
    • Extra paper towels
    • Microfiber cloths
    • Wet wipes
    • A stain stick
    • Your go-to all-purpose cleaner

How to Remove Ketchup Stains

Stains are one of the major downsides of a cookout, especially for those of us who aren’t exactly dainty eaters. Good news! You don’t have to don a bib or skip colorful condiments on your burger if you know how to remove ketchup, mustard and barbecue sauce. 

Note: You should always conduct a spot test on a small inconspicuous area of the fabric before diving in for a full clean. 

You’ll need:
  • A spoon
  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar (for light-colored clothes)
  • Cold water
  1. As soon as the spill happens, use the spoon to scrape off excess amounts of the offending condiment.
  2. Run cold water through the back of the stain as soon as you’re able to. Do not scrub the stain, as this will work it deeper into the fibers of the material.
  3. Add some laundry detergent to the stained area. In a circular motion, gently work the detergent into the stain. You want to start with the outside of the stain and work inward.
  4. If the stained clothing is light or white in color, you can spritz a little vinegar on it to help get the condiment out. Rinse any detergent out of the fabric with cold water before applying vinegar. You only want to work with one cleaner at a time.
  5. Rinse all cleaning solutions from the fabric.
  6. Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 until the stain is no longer visible.
  7. Let the clothing air dry just in case traces of the stain are left behind.
Bonus: Serving red sangria? Check out this post on How to Remove Wine Stains

How to Clean a Grill

Everyone jockeys to be first in line for food fresh off the grill at a cookout. However, you’re not likely to find a crowd of volunteers when it’s time to scrape char and residue off the grill grate. Here’s a secret: Cleaning a grill isn’t really as difficult as many people claim it is. In fact, you can spiff up a grill grate using little more than lemon, salt and water. 

Learn how to clean a grill using materials that you already have in your home. 

Invite some Post-Party Guests

Enjoy hosting a party but hate cleaning up afterward? You’re absolutely not in the minority here. Fortunately, the professional housekeepers at Merry Maids offer a variety of specialty services. One of them just happens to be — you guessed it — after-party cleanup. Contact your local Merry Maids to see exactly how we can lend a hand. That way you can focus on having a good time and leave the cleaning concerns to us.