Question of the Day: Do You Clean Before You Leave for Vacation?

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source: svanes

source: svanes

The weekend before last we spent the weekend at the beach, and as I was running around before we left, cleaning and preparing for our return, I thought this would make a perfect question of the day.

So here it is:

What do you do to prepare for your return from vacation before you leave?

Do you clean your house? How much?

Do you make sure the dishes and laundry are done?

Do you prepare an easy meal or your kids’ bedtime clothes for the night you get back?

Can’t wait to hear from you (and I’ve shared my full answer in the comments as well!).

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About the Author

Mandi Ehman

Hi. My name is Mandi and I’m an organizing junkie. I’m also a wife, and Momma to four little girls (5, 3.5, 2 and a new baby!). I've worked at home since our oldest was a baby, and like a lot of other moms, my life is a constant balancing act of caring for my family and my home, meeting my obligations and finding time for hobbies in there somewhere. Oh, yeah, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m somewhat of a kitchen dunce and I only like to pretend that I’m crafty. Read more here!

28 Responses to “ Question of the Day: Do You Clean Before You Leave for Vacation? ”

  1. I have to say that this is the first vacation that I’ve managed to pull off getting my house clean, laundry and dishes caught up and things generally ready for our return.

    It made a huge difference on our “reentry”, so that I wasn’t trying to get everything cleaned up while also dealing with kids who were strung out from a long weekend of excitement.

    I *think* the biggest difference this time was that we went to a baseball game on Friday night and stayed overnight at my parent’s before heading to the beach. Because we left Friday afternoon (as opposed to Saturday morning), I had a lot of the day to prepare. In the past, I’ve procrastinated too much and ended up not being able to pull it off on the day we left!


  2. It’s depressing enough to get back from vacation without coming back to a dirty house. I try to at least do this: empty all trashcans, wash dishes and run dishwasher, leave a little Mr Clean in each toilet, put fresh sheets on each bed, and have the laundry caught up. Vacuuming would be bonus points!


  3. I try to and my husband thinks I’m nuts for doing it.;) I make sure everything is picked up, make sure the trash is put in the trashcan outside, run the dishwasher, put washing soda in all the drains and toilet bowls, vacuum, turn off the water supply to the washer, and have all the laundry done and put away.

    Nothing is worse than coming home tired from a vacation and having a messy house. I sometimes even ask my mom to buy a gallon of milk and put it in the fridge as most times we get back late on a Sunday and have school/work to go to the next morning.

    Cindy’s last blog post…Lazy Days skirt x2


  4. I also clean before we leave. I empty the trash, clean the bathrooms and have laundry done. Things are picked up and I run the dishwasher right before we leave. My family used to think it was crazy, but they’ve gotten used to it and pitch in now. It makes coming home easier since we only have the vacation laundry to deal with!

    Julie’s last blog post…To Celebrate A Family


  5. I also clean the house before we leave. I do it for me. I know I am going to be tired or just want to take it easy after a trip. So I clean bathrooms, vacuum the whole house, dust and windex, make the beds, dishes put away and I also try to clean out the fridge of foods that are bad or may be bad when we get back. If I have time, I try to straight up the car if it is a car trip just to have one layer of dirt off before the trip layer gets on. My hubby thinks I am crazy too but I find it really helps my sanity which is very important! : )


  6. Funny you should ask, I’m working on cleaning today for a trip we are taking this weekend and I’ll be doing this all over again next Friday before we go on our vacation. I always do all the laundry, dishes, vacuum, put new sheets on the beds, clean out the fridge and take out the trash. I love the idea of putting baking soda in the drains and toilets, this is a great idea! I love coming home to nice crisp sheets and no laundry ( we bring enough dirty laundry home from our trip!).

    I think one of the biggest keys is what you do right when you get home from your vacation. My husband thinks I’m crazy but I always unpack our bags and throw in a load of laundry right when we get home. If we are staying somewhere with a washer and dryer I try to do most of the laundry before we come home. I keep all the clean clothes in one piece of luggage and all the dirty clothes in a separate bag. This way when I get home I can just bring the bag with the dirty clothes downstairs and get started on the laundry.

    Donna S’s last blog post…Wall art for the Living Room – Take 2


    Mandi Reply:

    Donna, I unpacked as soon as we got home too, and it felt so good the next day not to wake up to a pile of luggage and trinkets by the door that needed to be sorted and put away!


  7. I do and not really on purpose I just find myself naturally picking up as I am finding things to pack. I do all of the laundry so I make sure all of the clothes we need are clean. I run the dishwasher as we leave so nothing gets gross while we are gone. Take out the trash so the house doesn’t stink.

    In general I think it’s just easier for me to pack when everything is picked up and in it’s place.


  8. Taking out smelly trash is a must, but the one thing I am a freak about is cleaning out the fridge. I don’t want to come home to rotting veggies and left overs or overflowing kimchee jars (they do expand and overflow as the kimchee ripens and it makes a MESS), so I make sure there are none in there before we leave on our vacation! Great post, thanks! Abbie

    abbie’s last blog post…Getting To A Debt-Free Life


  9. Heck yes! I clean the house before leaving because when we come tumbling in after vacation with suitcases full of dirty laundry, seashells and trinkets, and whatever else we brought home with us…the LAST thing I want is a dirty house!

    Leaving everything clean also gives me the peace of mind that I won’t have double the work when we come back.

    Olivia’s last blog post…Red, White and Blue


  10. I always have very good intentions to have everything done before we go. . .but somehow I am always running around the house trying to finish things up before we are headed out the door. I guess I need to be more organized. I do try to make sure that if someone had to get into my house while we are gone, I am not ashamed of the mess I left.

    Amy’s last blog post…Visions Become Realities


  11. I’m trying to get better at this, but ideally I will:
    - make all the beds (doesn’t necessarily need to be with clean sheets, but that’s a plus)
    - put washing powder in the toilets
    - have all the laundry done and put away
    - run a dishwasher load
    - take out the trash – absolutely essential!

    That’s a good idea to have a meal ready to go upon returning. I should work on that. I also like the idea of starting a load of laundry upon coming home. I am horrible with unpacking. We got back from the 4th of July at my parents’ house and I still haven’t unpacked.


  12. I try….sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I will be on the warpath today trying to clean up cause we are leaving in the morning for the weekend. It is always nice to come home to a clean house so that (like everyone else has said) when we get home and add all the “vacation mess” we are not adding it to the “at the house already mess”. Well, better get to cleaning!!


  13. I always clean the house before we go… except I didn’t for the last vacation.

    I was disgusted with myself because I left laundry (clean and dirty) undone, toys out, etc. We just left in such a hurry, there was not time (and the five days before it, we were barely at home… long enough to make a mess!).

    So, now, I am not only cleaning clothes, etc from the vacation, but I’m basically cleaning the entire house, too.

    It won’t ever happen again, that is for sure!!!

    Amy’s last blog post…Free Offers – Ziploc, Fiber One, and more!


  14. I not only clean like crazy but I also make sure all my filing is complete and my bills are paid. I’m always worried something will happen to us and someone will have to come into my house and make sense of my files. It is a silly motivation but it is nice to come to a clean and organized home

    nina’s last blog post…Two Weeks Worth…


  15. I make a plan few days before, even to the food I would carry with us. I have learnt the best way to do anything is before the children and better half even wake up.

    – wash the days clothes but don’t fold them – just leave them in the dryer
    – make sure every dish is washed and set to dry – i don’t actually put them away
    – empty trash cans after we have finished our meal for the day at home.
    But I don’t do toys
    – try to empty out the fridge too as much as I can and freeze left over tomatoes(I just run them through the food processor and freeze the juice in ice cube trays),left over food and carry any fruit we have with us.
    It is welcoming coming back to a clean, odor free house after 15 days of hotel living.
    Home sweet home!!!


  16. To a point, I make sure I don’t leave anything in the sink. Garbage emptied. Counters clean. Beds made.

    I don’t vacuum or scrub the floor.

    That way the only mess I come home to is the mail and newspapers.


  17. I clean. Especially anything that will cause a nasty smell. I do like to make sure the beds are made,laundry done, kitchen cleaned and ready for activity. It’s just more pleasant to come back to a fresh ready for life home.

    Wendy’s last blog post…First things First


  18. I’m just taking a break from finishing up cleaning. We are heading out for the weekend. I don’t like to leave the house a mess while we are gone. I have the dishes done, laundry is washed and rooms are picked up. I have to unpack the night we get home I don’t like to leave the suitcases piled up in the hallway.

    Rana’s last blog post…Wordless Wednesday!


  19. I always clean before we leave for vacation! I find it easier to pack to leave if the house is clean and clutter-free. It is also so much less stressful to return home after a long vacation to a clean home!


  20. Heck yeah!!! Coming home from a trip w/tons of dirty clothes and stuff to put away is just compounded if the house is dirty.

    I run the dishes, make sure laundry is clean & away before we go, take out the trash, and straighten up all the crap that is lying around the house.

    Doesn’t matter if the floors are swept or vacuumed, as long as there is a semblance of order waiting for us when we get home, I’m happy!!


  21. I clean, but don’t scrub. Clean laundry, dishes, surfaces, floors. Pick up the toys, take out the trash. I worry about bugs getting at food or dirty dishes. I also REALLY like coming home to clean floors and surfaces, which we promptly fill as we empty the car. It’s definitely nice walking in to a clean house.


  22. Who wants to come home from vacation to a dirty house? What a rude awakening!! :) I mop, vacuum, clean the bathrooms and kitchen, do the laundry… It’s like we have guests coming…it’s us!!

    [email protected]’s last blog post…Photography Book Review and Giveaway!!!!


    Mandi Reply:

    “It’s like we have guests coming…it’s us!!”

    I love this, Marci!


  23. Yes – it drives my husband crazy that I can’t leave until certain things are done. Certainly I have to take out the trash as we are leaving and have the dishwasher loaded and turn it on as we leave. It is just nice to come home to most things in place.


  24. oh yes. i HAVE to clean before going away for any length of time. i cannot stand coming back home to a mess. and…if we’re staying somewhere with a washer/dryer, i do all the laundry before coming home so i have clean clothes to unpack and put away.

    i’m also a paranoid freak who worries that something will happen requiring someone to enter my home while i’m away. i’d hate for them to find a mess. yeah, i need (more) medication.

    Monica (peapodsquadmom)’s last blog post…The Post That Will Make Some People Mad


  25. Me too! I’m super aware of staying on top of laundry the week before, packing as things are cleaned. Also, of eating up all the fresh foods/clearing the refrigerator. (The sometimes odd meals we end up with remind me of not-quite-payday meals when my husband was in grad school. Mmmm Tuna salad on crackers with creamed corn on the side, sure it’s a meal!)

    Just before leaving, the kitchen is cleaned, dishes done, dishwasher left open to prevent mildew. Clothes washer also left open. Toilets are cleaned and cleaner left in them to prevent molds/mildew. (Not sure how much of these mildew prevents I could skip now that I’m in California, but I grew up in the South in the pre-AC everywhere days. Anything that didn’t get moved around and aired out regularly got mildewed.)


  26. I always clean before I leave for an extended period of time, including getting the laundry done so there is something to wear even if I come back with a suitcase full of dirty clothes. Consuming or throwing out food that’s going to go bad in the meantime is also a must.

    I try to time the trip so I leave on a Sunday or at the beginning of the week so I have weekend time to prepare, and return no later than a Saturday night so I have Sunday to settle in before starting the week on Monday. It’s really imperative to have time to get adjusted, especially if you will be changing time zones.

    Lelah’s last blog post…Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to read it


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