How to Keep Your Floors Protected from Snow, Sleet, and Slush During Winter Parties

Ask guests to go shoeless or consider laying down absorbent rugs.

girl grabbing shoes from drawer in mud room
Photo: Christopher Churchill

Although it's cold outside, winter is as good of a time as any to host a great partyhot drinks, comfort foods galore, bonfires, and more define the season's get-togethers. However, hosting a winter party comes with its own unique set of challenges, mostly because of the hard-to-predict weather. Snow, sleet, and general slush can make your floors wet, dirty, and a safety hazard when they are tracked in by guests. By putting some preventive measures in place, however, you can protect partygoers from slipping and prevent your floors from becoming damaged. Anthony Navarro, the creative director at Liven It Up Events, says doing so is comparable to the other hosting duties you have on your checklist. Just as you keep food stations stocked, you should make it your responsibility to clean up any wet areas, he says. Ahead, experts offer some effective ways to keep your home clean and dry when hosting a holiday event.

Have guests arrive through one entrance.

Prior to the arrival of your visitors, send out a friendly reminder asking them to enter your home through one specified location. "This will avoid tracking slush and snow through multiple entrances of the house," says Kristine Cooke, an event designer with Simply Charming Socials. While it may not seem as festive to have friends and family enter through a mudroom or side door, doing so will make cleanup far easier. Front porches or other covered areas are additional entrance options.

Ask attendees to remove their shoes.

One of the most effective ways to ensure partygoers don't get your floors wet is to host a shoe-free event. If you go this route, Jove Meyer, owner and creative director of Jove Meyer Events, says to have a shoe rack or shelf ready for your guests to place their snow boots and shoes. He also recommends that hosts notify their visitors ahead of time so they can be prepared. Becky Rapinchuk, cleaning expert and owner of, suggests displaying a cute sign in a frame and placing a pair of shoes by the door to get the trend started before guests arrive.

Place welcome mats outside and inside.

If a shoeless party isn't for you, Meyer says to have welcome mats or rugs on both sides of your door's threshold so guests can dry off and clean their shoes effectively before they enter the main entertaining area. "Feel free to buy or embellish door mats to make them festive," he says. Navarro likes to display a nicely designed sign that lets guests know they can keep their shoes on, but kindly requests that they wipe them off on the mats before coming in.

Display runners or rugs indoors.

Beyond keeping welcome mats inside and out, Meyer says you can also trap water and snow by laying down area rugs and runners in highly trafficked areas. "Runners come in all shapes and sizes, including clear, and are easy to lay down and also pick up at the end of the event," he explains. "Be sure to clean your runners throughout the event, as water or snow will sit and then be tracked elsewhere." You can also use a runner or rug if you have carpeted floors. Navarro recommends finding a large area rug that complements your home, style, and furnishings. "I know, carpet on top of carpet is not ideal, but to protect them, that is one way," he explains.

Keep towels handy.

When damp areas form, Cooke recommends keeping a discreet basket of rolled towels on hand to wipe off any excess slush. "Promptly and quickly clean up any wet spots so they don't settle onto your floors," she notes. To be considerate to guests, Meyer says to make your cleaning moment small and not noticeable, so they don't become the focal point of the party. Vera Peterson, President of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company, says another way to remedy damp spots is by wrapping the head of a mop with a towel to soak up excess water. When the event concludes, take time to give the floors an extra wipe down, as well as vacuum rugs and carpets. "Place any wet mats in a garage or covered porch to dry out," Cooke suggests.

Clean salt stains.

If salt stains persist after mopping and vacuuming, Peterson says to mix together a half cup of vinegar with a gallon of water. "This solution works to dissolve the dried-on salt," she explains. For tile and vinyl floors Peterson says to use a mop to spread the solution and clean salt stains. On wood floors, add the mixture to a spray bottle and spray it over the affected area then use a towel to dab the stain spots.

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