Tearing Down and Cleaning up After an Event

by Michael Bernzweig

Depending on the event, there are multiple things to consider when tearing down and cleaning up afterward. Some may include professional cleaning services, and some may depend on in-house cleaners. Being mindful of your event clean-up will assure that your group or organization will be invited back again in the future. If need be, you can always contract with a cleaning service for a one-time fee. Some cleaners even specialize their focus as event cleaning service providers. Examples of events that may require extensive event clean up include:

  • Weddings
  • Graduations
  • Public festivals
  • Party cleaning
  • Home shows
  • Craft fairs, and
  • Sporting events. 

No matter if you are the one hosting the event or if you are just volunteering at one that is held in your space, it is important to have a plan for dismantling it afterward. This includes ensuring all trash is removed from the venue and recycling bins so recycling can be done after the party cleaning services are finished. Having the proper supplies on hand such as trash bags and other tools to clean up the mess, will make your clean up quick and easy. If you do contract out the clean up from your big event to a post event cleanup service, be sure that you have all of the details listed in your agreement so there are no cost surprises. Items to detail in your agreement are supplies, junk removal, cleaning solution, restroom cleaning, which provides the cleaning staff, etc. You can also check with other clients of the vendor to be sure their professional event cleaning services are up to par. Typically the service areas for many cleaning companies are limited to a specific region.

If your clean up service is required for a construction site, you might be better off with an industrial cleaning service. Many of the details and proper techniques for construction site clean up and recycling will be familiar to this type of cleaning organization. Your post construction cleanup will go smoothly and without a hitch by hiring the right type of contractor.


Scope Out the Venue

Things that you should look for and review when you are looking at the venue before the event include: 

  • The amount of event space that the event will use
  • Check for leaks, pre-existing damage, and anything that is broken
  • The availability of electricity (and where it's located) 
  • You will also want to consider what sorts of amenities you will need for the event. 
  • How many entrances and exits are there
  • Where power outlets are located
  • The number of trash cans for disposing of trash and recycling bins for separating recycling from the rest of the trash.

It is critical to be aware of these items as you prepare for your trip, so you will know what you will need to buy or bring with you. Furthermore, you need to be aware of how they will affect the overall space of the venue, as well as if they are available there. If there is no power, for example, you may need a generator. Or, if the only trash cans available are overflowing with garbage, it might be best to bring your own garbage cans and bags for event cleaners.

Clean as You Go

It is important to be cleaning up constantly as this can dramatically decrease the time spent tearing down and event cleaning afterward. As a result of failing to do so, the following issues may arise as a result: 

  • Cleanup crews get in each other’s way at the night's end. 
  • A large amount of time event cleaning afterward 
  • Afternoon events may end later, causing cleanup to go into the late-night hours.
  • A loss of teamwork as people go in different directions to clean. 
  • Failing to remove items from the premises

Cleaning up during your event will ensure few or none of these issues happen. If you fail to clean as you go, it may be necessary to end your event prematurely to assure a successful event clean up. Janitorial services and special event cleaning services typically clean during events to maximize efficiency and prevent the time it takes to clean up after the event is over. 

Keep It Simple

Simplicity regarding elements like the number of third-party services, the items used, and staff structure can make cleanup less of a headache for everyone involved. These things simplify the process, making it more manageable. When it comes to office cleaning needs and commercial cleaning, the process should be as streamlined as possible.

The easier cleanup is, the less chance there will be of something going wrong. Ideally, you want to keep things as simple as possible to avoid any issues that may arise.

Create a Checklist

The idea of creating a checklist for tear down and clean up is a great idea. Before an event even begins, there is no reason it should be unusual for a cleaning company to come prepared with a cleaning plan and checklist. Here are a few items to include in your checklist: 

  • Tear down chairs and tables
  • Breakdown third-party services (like caterers)
  • Return rented items to respective owners 
  • Pack up all supplies
  • Detail clean restrooms
  • Remove dirt and debris from floors
  • Clean any litter
  • Trash removal
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Clean the premises

This way, you don't have to worry about forgetting or losing anything. Whether it's a corporate event, a large event like a sporting event with hundreds of people or a smaller gathering, every event will have its own specific needs. Keeping track of everything is key for planning purposes so that nothing goes wrong. Checklists can help you avoid messes and confusion when tearing down and event cleaning afterward.

Using Metal Detectors for Trash Location

In many cases, you will discover many sharp bits of metal that have been left behind after an event. In some cases, these might include nails and other building supplies. In other cases, these might include screw caps, soda can pulls, foil, and other human-created waste. It is always important to clean up all bits of metal from an event location for safety. In this case, a metal detector may be the perfect device to help you locate the metal with ease. All iron or ferrous objects can be found with a magnetic locator. To locate all metal objects, a traditional metal detector may be your best bet.

Carefully Delegate Tasks

Clearly assigning tasks to your team members is very important because your event will be over before you know it, and clean-up services should begin as soon as possible. Then assign people to take back items, break down equipment, and do other tasks that need to be done. Keep a record of everything that needs to be done so it is easy to delegate tasks next time.

For example, you can assign one person per room or area with the task of picking up any trash left behind by guests. This will help keep your venue cleaner for all those who stay behind after an event at their house has ended. Designate a certain area where they can put anything they pick up and make sure everyone knows where this spot is for ease of post-event cleanup later on. 

Make Things Mobile

Having various elements, such as activities, food, and even decorations on wheeled mechanisms like dollies, can make cleanup more efficient. Event cleaning with professional cleaners can be optimized by making large displays and items mobile beforehand.

It is undoubtedly true that having several tables on wheels will be of great help when you are hosting an event with board games, and you will be able to reduce the amount of walking between activities. To clean everything up, all that needs to be done is wheel the items back to where they belong. 

Consider Parking Needs

Parking for staff and third-party vendors may become problematic, especially as the event draws closer. You can ensure people aren’t stepping on each others’ toes in this regard by:

  • Allowing food-related event vendors to use the parking areas designated for your caterer. 
  • If there is a separate staff parking area, allow all other vendors to share that lot as well. 
  • Make sure signage clearly marks which vehicles are being valet parked and which vehicles belong on site. 
  • If possible, have volunteers on hand directing cars into available lots so visitors don't have to navigate themselves through busy streets or around large buildings to find a parking spot. 

When all else fails, consider renting more space from an offsite location for those workers who need it most. 

Make Sure You are Aware of Local Laws and Venue Rules

Local laws or rules specific to the venue may affect the cleanup process. To ensure that you are aware of this information in advance, contact the secretary or manager of the venue you will be using and inquire about what procedures need to take place after the event. 

If possible, consider contacting a local law enforcement official who can help guide you through any necessary steps for event cleanup. 

What is an important question to ask is: Are there any laws relating to waste disposal, hazardous materials disposal, or noise ordinances that may affect the process?

Set Up a Lost and Found

It is important to have a lost and found. It helps guests track down any items they may have forgotten or lost during their visit. 

When setting up a lost and found, make sure that you use clearly marked containers where people can deposit items. Ensure that the containers are secure so that people cannot take anything from them without opening them first. 

If you need to search the grounds for a missing item, some tools that may be helpful to have on hand include: 

  • A metal detector 
  • Flashlights
  • Binoculars
  • Handheld radios (one for each team that is searching).

Keep Guests Informed

You can ensure that guests are properly informed of expectations to benefit the organization and cleanup by providing printed materials to guests or using announcements before the event. 

If you are handing out items explaining the rules, ensure to put clear instructions on what will happen after events that may cause harm or destruction to property. For example, you may want to make clear that if guests break objects or leave behind debris or garbage, they will be held responsible for their replacement costs or cleaning crew expenses.

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