August 1, 2014 at 1:00 am

The Handyman

Tips to prep for a late-summer outdoor party

If you listen to the weather in the summer, you will likely hear about those pop-up thunderstorms that can occur. But a party on your deck or patio with family or friends can also pop up quickly in the summer. Even if you have just one day or a few hours before your guests arrive, you can do some things to make sure your outdoor space is in party-ready condition.

A quick cleaning of your outdoor furniture does wonders, even if you gave it a thorough cleaning before Memorial Day. By now the weather has probably made it dirty again. For plastic resin furniture, use Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Clear Plastic Cleaner, meguiars.com, and then wash it off with a hose. If it just has surface dirt, you can clean it with Simple Green, simplegreen.com.

Then make sure your deck or patio is clean and free of debris. Using your leaf blower to blow off any excess dirt or debris is a good way to get things ready to be cleaned. For PVC or composite decks, I recommend using a soft-bristled brush and a mild cleaner like KrudKutter, krudkutter.com; Simple Green or SuperDeck Wood and Composite Deck Cleaner, superdeck.com.

Nothing can ruin an outdoor party faster than mosquitoes attacking your guests. By now you have heard me preach that water always wins when it comes to your home, and that is also true when it comes to controlling mosquitoes in your yard. The best way to minimize the mosquitoes around your home is to get rid of any standing water on your property. That includes low-lying areas of the yard, gutters, planter trays, old tires, tarps and even the dog’s bowl.

Mosquitoes also like areas with tall grass, weeds and brush, so cut your grass as short as you can and prune back your bushes. Then use Mosquito Beater by Bonide Products in your yard to keep mosquitoes at bay.

If you have ponds, fountains or marshy areas in your yard, try using Mosquito Bits and Mosquito Dunks by Summit Chemical, summitchemical.com, to kill mosquito larvae. In addition, use an electric oscillating fan rated for outdoor use on the deck or patio to help knock down mosquitoes and other flying insects. It also keeps your guests cooler.

Next, focus your attention on the grill. Use a portable vacuum or compressed air to clean out any debris that has accumulated, and use the compressed air and a special Venturi brush to clean out those spiders that love to live inside the tube that attaches to your burner and clog it up. Now get the grill grates nice and clean by covering them with aluminum foil and heating up the grill to high for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and clean the grates with a wire brush.

Have an extra propane tank on hand so you don’t run out right in the middle of grilling those great steaks and chicken you have been bragging about to your guests. And just to be safe, get a portable fire extinguisher like the Tundra Fire Extinguishing Spray from First Alert, firstalert.com, in case you have a grease fire in the grill or the fire pit gets out of hand.

Now get the radio ready so you can listen to the Tigers game, or connect the iPod to your outdoor stereo system and let the party begin.

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail askglenn@masterhandyman.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536, between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The “Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.