A vacation or even a long weekend is an exciting prospect. New places, new food, new experiences, and then back home to continue that old routine, refreshed from the trip.
But coming home to a house that isn’t clean and organized can bring you back down in a hurry.
Do yourself a favor—clean the house before you go so you can keep that de-stressing experience for a couple of days. No one wants to come home to a sink full of dirty dishes, overflowing laundry baskets, and sheets that are long past their “crisp” stage.
Start organizing your cleaning checklist:
- Do laundry
- Put a couple of lights on timers
- Make sure the trash gets put out
- General cleaning and tidying up
Fire up the washer and dryer and get started. If it’s something you are packing for your trip, put it directly into your suitcase after it comes out of the dryer.
Everyone in the house needs to pick up their dirty laundry a couple of days before you leave, and it needs to be washed, dried, and put away. Dirty laundry left on the floor or shoved in the closet will develop an odor that can be pretty daunting, depending on if it’s workout clothes or filthy sneakers.
Strip the beds the day before you leave, or maybe two days before, so the sheets are fresh when you get home.
If you have pets and use couch covers, they need to be washed, and don’t forget to wash those dog beds too.
Wet towels from baths, or showers, need to be hung on towel racks or hung over the shower rod to dry. Bunched up towels will mildew, so shake them out and hang them up.
Make sure the shower curtain is spread out so it will dry.
Leave the washer, front load or top load open, so it will air out because there’s always a little water that doesn’t fully drain out.
Time to purge the refrigerator. Toss out leftovers, expired foods, and anything in a container that looks mysterious and/or fuzzy. If it’s open and going to expire, like milk or lunchmeat, throw it out.
Take all the stuff you need to throw out and make sure it ends up in the garbage outside.
You may want to wash out the outside garbage bins depending on the weather, how long you will be gone, and what you’ve put in it. Clean the sink, including throwing a handful of baking soda down the garbage disposal and running it. Make sure you clean the garbage disposal splash guard, including the underside where most of the debris collects.
Do a pantry purge and/or a food drawer purge after you clean out the refrigerator. Leaving two slices of bread in plastic in the bread drawer is a bad idea. Likewise, that open package of cookies is not going to be edible if you’re going to be gone a week.
Don’t forget about the dishwasher. If you are leaving in the morning, run one last load at night, then empty the dishwasher. Wash the breakfast dishes by hand, dry them, and put them away. If you will be gone more than a couple of days, leave the dishwasher door ajar.
General clean-up and tidying
Dust, then vacuum and clean the floors. If you have a vacuum robot, set it on a schedule. Empty all the trash, including the small trash can under your desk, because those orange peels you put in there will get nasty otherwise.
Wipe out the shower and the sink in the bathroom.
Leave the bathroom doors open when you leave and leave other doors open so you have air circulating through the house.
The morning you are leaving, unplug electronic items that don’t need to be plugged in. For example, the phone chargers that stay plugged in just so you can just put the phone on when you walk by, the blender you use for your smoothies every morning, the toaster, as well as hairdryers and curling irons.
Set air purifiers on low. Break out a couple of air fresheners.
If you have ant or insect problems, spray those areas to ward off what could be a potential disaster while you are gone.
A word about the car
If you are taking the car for your trip or leaving it at long-term parking, it should be cleaned out. Vacuum the seats and clean under them (is that fuzzball a gummy bear?) and empty any trash bags in the car. Re-organize that console area that might have gas receipts, reminder notes, and candy wrappers stuffed in it.
Go through your home checklist one more time; everything clean? No dirty laundry hiding under the bed? No service people scheduled to show up while you are gone as part of a regular service routine? Good job! Now enjoy yourself on that trip!
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