9+ things to clean at home before you leave for holidays

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

Come home from your family holiday or trip to a clean, tidy and welcoming home, with this quick and easy list of things to clean at home before you leave for holidays.

When I return home from a holiday away, I love to come home to a clean house and minimal chores. It means that my holiday buzz can hang around a little longer, and I can enjoy more time with my family – not my cleaning caddy – before we all return to our work and school obligations. We are heading on a family holiday to Japan next week, so thought I’d share with you the things I’m doing now to ensure I’m greeted by a beautifully tidy home when I return.

It only takes a little bit of organising and cleaning before your trip to make sure the house is tidy and welcoming when you return from your holiday. Here is a breakdown of the things I like to do before going away. If you’re wanting a checklist to make this whole process even easier, check out my downloadable Post-Holiday Checklist.

1. Tidy + Clean Kitchen

I like to clean the kitchen, declutter the benches and wipe them down before we go away. It means no crumbs are left anywhere to attract bugs, and I can come home to nice clutter-free bench tops.

2. Fridge clean out + wipe down

It’s a good idea to remove all the products that are not going to stand the test of time. Milk, cream, bread, meat (that’s kept in the fridge), fruit and veggies are all likely candidates for a smelly return home. Instead try to use up all these products in the week before you leave, and ask neighbours and friends if they want any items you were unable to finish. This is also a great time to give all the shelves a good wipe over and clear away any spilled liquids or crumbs that could fester.

3. Organise Online Groceries

I don’t know about you, but when we go away we actually look forward to a home-cooked meal when we arrive back. Instead of having to tackle the supermarket after your vacation, submit your grocery order online before you leave. That way it’s ready for pick up or delivery when you get home, and you can make something quick and easy for dinner that night. I do my Woolworths order from my phone app – it’s quick, easy, and oh-so-simple!

4. Empty laundry baskets

I make sure all laundry baskets are empty (usually except for the sheets I take off the beds the day we leave), with the washing cleaned, folded and put away before we leave. There is always loads of washing to do after you get home from holidays and I definitely don’t want to add to that even more.

5. Dry Washing Machine

I also make sure I open the washing machine door before we leave so it doesn’t get mouldy while we’re away.

6. Clean the Floors

Never will your floors stay cleaner than when you’re on holidays! With nobody around to mess those lovely mopped tiles and vacuumed carpets up, it’s well worth doing. I like to do the floors the night before we leave. There’s nothing like clean floors to make the whole house sparkle when you return home!

7. Wipe over bathroom benchtops

Giving the vanity, taps, sink and mirrors a quick wipe down and clean takes only minutes, and trust me, you will definitely appreciate having a shower in your own clean bathroom after coming home from your holiday trip.

8. Freshen Drains

Kitchen drains can get a little stinky after a while, and you’ll definitely notice it when you come home from holidays. Smelly drains are usually a result of built-up food residue and particles getting stuck in the drains.  Similar to the bathroom drain, stray hairs sit in the drain and other debris can get caught and this can cause the drain to block up too.

Drain you can freshen:

  • Kitchen sink drain
  • Bathroom sink drain
  • Shower drain
  • Bathtub drain.

I like to drop 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain and then pour 1 cup of vinegar down the drain.  Let sit for 15 minutes, then flush the drain with hot tap water.  While I do this, I also sprinkle bicarb over the sink, spritz with vinegar, let it sit for the same amount of time and then scrub to shine.

9. Destink Toilets

Even a slightly dirty toilet can end up smelling pretty bad if left inside a closed up home – especially with nobody flushing it for a few days. When cleaning the toilet I like to remove the toilet seat so that I can disinfect it whilst I scrub the rest of the loo. You can use a paste of bi-carb soda and lemon juice for your toilet or opt for a ready-made cleaner.

I started using the Koala Eco Natural products a few months ago. They are plant based range that are free from nasty chemicals, but most importantly they do the job (and smell absolutely delicious!)

10. Freshen up the bedrooms

In addition to decluttering the bedrooms (my children can accumulate a lot of stuff in their rooms!), I like to put clean sheets on the bed the day we go away – there’s nothing like sleeping in your own clean bed after being away for a while.  This does mean I have a pile of dirty sheets, but this is OK, as I really am grateful for the clean sheets on that first night back in our own bed.

11. General Tidy

Last but not least, I like to do a final quick whip around to make sure that the lounge and dining room are clutter free and that everything is generally tidy and welcoming for our return post-holiday.

Travel Checklists

I love a good checklist, and regardless of what you’re trying to prep for your holiday – a home, a suitcase, or a petsitter – I have a travel checklist that will help take the stress out of that task. I even have a Buy 3 Get 1 Free deal to save you money as well as time!

What is the one area you must clean before going on holidays?

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BellaInAus November 28, 2019 - 1:56 PM

A few years ago we went on a month long trip to New Zealand. Before we left I emptied out the fridge and freezer and turned it off. We asked friends of ours to keep an eye on the place and gave them a key. At some point while we were away they came in and shut the fridge and the freezer doors.
I’d run out of time to give the fridge a proper clean before we left. By the time we came home it was mouldy.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife November 29, 2019 - 1:48 PM

Oh no! I will make sure anyone visiting my home whilst I’m away is clued up on this! Thanks for sharing x

Tenna Homes November 28, 2019 - 2:41 PM

I always forget about the fridge and freezer when I leave for short trips, and the aftermath is not so pleasant. I’m going for a long break for the holidays this year so this list isn definitely going to be verrrry helpful. I didn’t even think about the sinks!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife November 29, 2019 - 1:48 PM

Coming home to a smelly home is the worst! Glad to hear that this list will help you prep for your trip away Tenna 🙂

Farah Dyer-Steel November 29, 2019 - 9:59 PM

We don’t have off peak electricity at our place so I always turn off the hot water switch at the mains, because there’s no point my paying full price for constant 24/hr day bubbling hot water if I’m away camping for a fortnight!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife December 2, 2019 - 3:51 PM

Good tip! 🙂


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