7 Things You Should Really Clean Before You Head Out of Town

published Dec 17, 2022
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A clean, natural-lit white kitchen with wood countertops
Credit: Lana Kenney

Getting away somewhere that isn’t your home may be the best part of the holidays. But coming back home when you’ve left things less-than-orderly can make reentry into regular life much, much harder. In particular, we’d argue that getting the kitchen cleaned up before you leave is the key to a happy homecoming. 

Here are some things you should clean in your kitchen before you head out of town.

1. Purge the refrigerator.

It is no fun to come home to a fridge full of spoiled produce and leftovers that need to be tossed. Spend the week or so before your departure eating up whatever perishables you can. Freeze what’s left or give items to neighbors. Not only will this prevent waste, but you’ll also be making room for any fun foods you bring home with you.  

Credit: Cat Meschia

2. Clean the disposal.

It’s easy to forget that your garbage disposal is essentially a tiny garbage can. It will get very stinky if you don’t run it before you leave. Running it with some citrus rinds and a few cubes of ice will help get every bit of stuck-on, odor-causing food off the blades. 

3. Take out the trash.

Taking out the trash might seem like an obviously necessary task, but it’s really easy to forget. Do this as late in the game as possible so you return home to a completely fresh and empty trash can that doesn’t have any smells. 

4. Clean off the counters.

Cleaning off the counters is the single biggest thing you can do to make your kitchen look tidy when you walk into it. Accomplishing this task before you leave for vacation is a gift you give yourself; you’ll will walk inside and feel at least somewhat on top of things. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Sweep or vacuum the floors.

Making sure the floors are clean helps discourage pests, who may feel bold enough to venture out when they sense there aren’t any humans home. Don’t forget more hidden spots like under the stove and the pantry floor. 

6. Wash dishes and clean the sink.

Wash any dishes on the counters or in the sink. Coming home to dirty dishes is no way to end your vacation. 

7. Run the dishwasher.

Don’t leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Food will dry out, badly, and you’ll experience some unpleasant odors when you open it. It’s OK if you aren’t home for the entire cycle; just make sure you only encounter clean dishes upon your return home.