Friday, July 5, 2013

Quick and Easy 4th of July Cleanup

The fireworks were spectacular and the food was delicious, but now the 4th of July festivities are over. While house cleanup can seem like a daunting task after a spectacular July 4th, turn it into a group activity, follow a few simple guidelines and wonderful 4th of July memories will be all that linger long after the day is over.

Cleanup and Disposal:

  • Determine if any decorations can be salvaged or reused. For instance, unused sparklers make fun additions to cakes for upcoming birthdays and other special occasions. Other red, white and blue-themed items may be used throughout the summer months. 
  • Separate items that are regular trash from those that require recycling. This is a great task for children and young adults to assist with; make it a fun challenge by color-coding bags or bins for quick collection.
  • According to The Balloon Council, latex balloons re biodegradable and may simply be disposed of in the trash without threat to the environment. However, Mylar balloons, those with a shiny silver finish, are not biodegradable. Yet, these types of balloons can easily be recycled and used for craft projects or as mementos to keep them out of landfills.
  • If sparklers or any kind of fireworks have been used for 4th of July, soak items in a bucket of water before disposing of them. Children should not perform this task unless supervised by an adult. Visit for additional information.
  • Allow charcoals used for barbecuing to burn completely and wait 48 hours before throwing out the ashes. Wrap cold ashes in aluminum foil and place in a non-combustible container for safe and easy cleanup, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. This particular chore is best let to adults.
  • Remember, an American flag should never be destroyed unless it is beyond repair. In that case, the flag should be disposed of in a dignified manner, preferably by burning. Visit for more guidelines.

Handling leftover food:

  • Any uncooked dairy- or egg-based foods, such as salads made with mayonnaise and desserts topped with whipped cream, should never be left out in the heat. Since bacteria starts to form quickly in hot temperatures, these dishes should be refrigerated or kept on ice during the course of a party. It's safest to discard any questionable food items after a 4th of July celebration to prevent possible food poisoning, according to the ServSafe guidelines of the National Restaurant Association.
  • Grilled meats such as leftover pork or cooked chicken can make healthy meals by utilizing simple recipes. Always refrigerate meats after thoroughly cooking to ensure their safety in leftover recipes.
  • Leftover pork or cooked chicken can be sliced and added to salad greens to create a delicious, healthy summer salad. Other simple recipes using leftover BBQ or grill recipes include wraps, tacos or simply serving grilled meats over rice or pasta, either warm or cold. Check out the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Website, for additional healthy meal ideas.

Incorporate these guidelines for house cleanup after your 4th of July celebration and enjoy many more safe summer celebrations this season!

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer

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