It doesn’t matter if you’re at a racecourse, a theatre, or a music festival field – where there are people, there is a mess. Even the best-intentioned attendees leave litter and traipse dirt behind them. And yet, so much thought gets put into preparing a big event that venue managers are often left overwhelmed by the inevitable aftermath. Whether you’re hosting a one-off event or are a seasoned pro, here are six tips for making event cleaning as smooth as possible.
1. Plan event cleaning ahead
Have all of your clean-up supplies and equipment ready before the event. It will mean that you can start the break-down and clean up immediately after guests leave. It’ll also ensure that your team is prepared to handle urgent messes as they occur.
If you’re used to hosting large events, then you may already have some supplies. Still, check that you have enough of the following:
- Bin bags (heavy-duty and biodegradable)
- Paper towels
- Cleaning cloths
- General purpose cleaner
- Glass cleaner
- Carpet/upholstery cleaner
- Gloves, litter-picks, and other tools for staff
Once you’ve got your equipment, draft a plan of action for how each area will need to be tackled.
2. Don’t rely on your own staff
If you run a venue, don’t expect your regular staff to do a professional job of event cleaning. Yes, minimum-wage workers can run a cloth over a table and a broom over a floor, but they aren’t trained to use specialist equipment or motivated to do a thorough, efficient job. You might be reluctant to fork out for a professional steam-cleaning or pressure-washing firm, but they’ll get the job done faster, safer, and better than any number of untrained teenagers.
If you need to clear general litter from a large site, look for volunteers that will work in exchange for tickets, discounts, or another form of non-financial reimbursement. Alternatively, hire temp staff that are fully on-board with litter picking for a few hours. They won’t suffer the hit on morale that your own staff might feel by doing the same work.
3. Encourage your guests
Make sure there are plenty of bins positioned around your venue (indoors and outdoors), so guests are more likely to dispose of litter themselves. Clearly signpost where these are and whether any receptacles are dedicated to recyclable products.
Focus on areas that are near food and drink hubs and double or triple-line each receptacle with bin-bags, so full ones can be quickly removed during the event without needing to be replaced.
Depending on the size of your event, you may be able to implement an incentivisation programme to get guests to tidy some litter themselves. For example, selling drinks in reusable cups for a small surcharge and reimbursing them when the cup is returned.
Larger events may benefit from rewarding guests that collect rubbish and take it to a designated drop-off area, like the “Eco-Bond” at Bestival.
4. Arrange your waste removal
Commercial venues should be using their designated refuse bins for their waste to be collected. However, if you are planning a particularly large event that will generate excess waste, it’s important to be prepared.
Speak to your local council authorities about additional support, such as:
- Temporary waste receptacles
- Free access to refuse collection sites
- Implementing recycling schemes
- Information about dealing with hazardous waste appropriately
5. Designate an event cleaning leader
Identify an individual on your team to oversee and take responsibility for the clean-up process. This will be far more efficient than leaving it up to unsupervised junior staff. Help them list what needs to be done and assign jobs to the rest of the team.
It’s a good idea for this person to be someone that is not exhausted from having worked the whole event. Choose someone from a different shift that isn’t desperate to go home and will tackle the break-down with energy and focus.
6. Don’t forget “hidden” areas
It’s easy to focus your clean-up efforts on the most obvious spaces of your venue, but don’t forget about the less visible places.
Toilets, patios, and car parks are all guest hot spots that are easily left behind when clean-up begins. These will give your team a headache when they realised they’re not as close to finished as they thought. Tackle them early and you’ll be out the door in no time.