We get kind of a thrill from trying out a new kitchen — after all, you might win the vacation rental kitchen lottery and get more counter space, nicer appliances, and beautiful cookware. Then again, you might also encounter a kitchen that hasn't been so well-kept. Hopefully you won't walk into a disaster kitchen, but it's always a good idea to clean a few key spots before you start cooking.
And, of course, before you hit the road, don't forget to do these five things in your own kitchen. It'll make your return home that much better.
1. Take out the trash.
First things first: Check that the trash has been taken out, or that there's nothing smelly in there. (And while you're at it, make sure that nothing in the fridge has spoiled or spilled.)
2. Disinfect the sponge.
Whether or not you use a sponge in your home kitchen, you'll likely encounter one in a vacation rental kitchen. They're inexpensive, easily replaceable, and don't require laundering like dish cloths might. Plus, they are slightly more eco-friendly than using paper towels. If you do nothing else, disinfect the sponge when you arrive; you can use either the microwave or the dishwasher. Or just buy and bring your own sponge.
3. Wipe down the counters, sink, and stovetop.
You don't have to break out the Bar Keeper's Friend, but it's always a good idea to give all the surfaces a quick once-over. Ideally, everything is clean and ready for you to cook on, but it's worth it to wipe everything down to make sure.
Common Kitchen Surfaces to Clean
4. Check dishes, flatware, and basic pots and pans to make sure they're clean.
You should be able to pull the dishes out of the cabinet and eat right off of them, but it's worth taking a few minutes to check before you're ready to sit down to dinner. If you find that things haven't been cleaned well, run the dishwasher or fill the sink so the dishes are ready when you are.
Tips for Squeaky-Clean Dishes
5. Clean the outdoor dining area and grill.
Hopefully you've been lucky enough to find a vacation rental with a grill and patio table. After all, that's one of the best parts about renting a house — being able to grill out! The bad news is that those spaces are likely to be neglected on the cleaning front.
Tips for a Clean Outdoor Space
Finally, take a brief survey of the kitchen to make sure that everything else is in order. If you're renting a home during high season, there might not be much time between guests, and things could be overlooked. It pays to make a mental note of areas that have been missed so you can let your host know when you check out.