Cleaning After a Kids’ Birthday Party: A Case Study

For her 5-year old son’s birthday, Cathy decided to throw a birthday party at home and invite several of her friends with young children, as well as her son’s best friends from school. She decided to serve jam doughnuts and milk to go with the home-made chocolate cake and she even bought lots of cans of “silly string” for the children to enjoy spraying.

Party Pooper

The party was a great success, despite the occasional tears and tantrums, but when all the children had finally gone home and her son had been put to bed, Cathy came back into the living room and realised there was one thing she hadn’t planned for: stains.

“Oh my God, there were stains everywhere!” She remembers ruefully. “There were chocolate finger marks on the couch; smeared jam all over the carpet; someone had spilled a glass of milk by the front door and worst of all, there were bits of silly string sticking to everything. I even had some in my hair that I hadn’t realised!”

Operation Clean-Up

Cathy and her husband set to work cleaning up the room and tackling the stains. Being the mother of a young child, Cathy was familiar with most of the stains that children create and knew the best ways to deal with them. She instructed her husband to use a plastic knife to gently remove as much of the excess chocolate and jam as possible, while she went to gather the items needed to tackle the stains themselves.

“I tackled the carpet first because I didn’t want us stepping on some jam by mistake and tracking it even more through the house,” says Cathy. “I made up a solution of warm water and washing up liquid and gently sponged that into the stains, then I rinsed the area out using a wet cloth soaked in cold water. You’ve got to be careful not to over-soak the carpet. And then finally I blotted them dry with some kitchen towel paper. They looked dreadful to start with – bright pink smears on the carpet everywhere – but they actually came off fairly well after this treatment.”

Cathy then turned her attention to the chocolate smears on the couch. Although chocolate often looks terrible, it is actually not a difficult stain to remove and Cathy found that she was able to remove most of the traces by dabbing the areas again with her solution of warm water and washing up liquid, followed by sponging with clean water to rinse and then a blot dry. There was only one stain which left a grease mark but this she managed to remove by further treating it with an upholstery shampoo.

“The milk stain was pretty easy – in fact, I could barely even see it but I knew that if I didn’t rinse it out, it might leave that horrible smell. So I sponged it with the same solution as before and then rinsed it and blotted dry,” says Cathy.

Silly Decision

The worst stains, Cathy discovered, came from the remnants of “silly string” that had been liberally sprayed during the party. In fact, worst stain was actually on her own shirt. This was because most of the silly string on the carpets, couch and curtains had been quickly lifted off soon after spraying by considerate adults at the party but Cathy had forgotten her own clothes in the chaos and the longer silly string remains in contact, the higher chance it has of staining.

“I picked off as much as I could from my shirt but there was a really nasty stain underneath. I had to use a bit of paint thinner dabbed onto the stain to remove it,” remembers Cathy, adding that it’s important to do this in a well-ventilated area to protect yourself from the fumes of the paint thinner. “I had to repeat it a few times before I got all the stain out. Then I had to wash my shirt to get rid of the paint thinner. Overall, it was a lot of hassle and I’ve learnt my lesson – getting the silly string was a bad decision – I’m certainly not having it in any party of mine again!”

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