The One Thing You Should *Always* Do in Your Kitchen Before a Vacation

published Jul 5, 2023
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Shot of a happy family leaving their home for a vacation
Credit: mihailomilovanovic/Getty Images

Apparently most people don’t frantically mop the floor while the rest of their family sits in the running car that’s packed and ready to go on vacation. I genuinely thought everyone cleaned their kitchen before going on a trip, but my close friend informed me that, nope, I’m apparently the weird one. 

Well, I decided, add it to the list of neuroses I’m grateful for, because there is no greater kindness to my future self than making sure she comes home to a clean kitchen. I’ll never give up this practice — even if it means I have to sprint to my airport terminal. Here’s why.

It keeps the pests at bay.

I cannot relax at the beach if I’m imagining bugs feasting on cracker crumbs in my kitchen. Absolutely not — it’s also why decanting is so important in the kitchen. 

I return to the scent of home, not the smell of the trash bin.

Even if I’m running late, I never neglect to take out the trash and the compost. There’s nothing worse than returning home to the smell of rotten bananas. Bonus points for grinding a citrus peel in the garbage disposal or dropping a cotton ball soaked in essential oil in the trash bin to make everything smell extra fresh. 

Cleaning helps combat the post-vacation blues.

I may be the odd one out when it comes to pre-vacation cleaning, but I know I’m not the only one who feels sad when a trip ends. The Sunday scaries are apt to be especially strong post-vacation, and walking into a home full of undone domestic tasks is enough to make them bloom into a full-blown vortex. 

It’s easy to cook at home after vacation splurges.

Vacation food is often expensive, and I’m usually itching to save money when I get home. If I walk into a pristine kitchen, I’m much more inclined to pick up a knife and cook something. If I’m met with a sink full of crusty dishes, I’m almost always opting for DoorDash instead. 

Nothing is wasted.

I always go through my refrigerator and either freeze, eat, or give away any food that might go bad while I’m gone. I also label anything I need to use right away when I return. This ensures I never come home to slimy spinach. 

Can I take a minute to acknowledge that this practice is a luxury? Yes, it’s a kindness, but I’m lucky to have the time and energy for it, and the privilege of going on vacation in the first place. If you don’t have the capacity to clean before a trip, that’s absolutely OK! Even if you just take out the trash and wipe down the counters, those 10 minutes will still make a huge difference on your return. You can deal with the slimy spinach later.  

What’s on your must-do list before you go on vacation?