Clean These 5 Things Before You Go on Vacation—or Risk Coming Home to a Stinky House

Your to-do list might feel overwhelming, but taking the time to disinfect these areas will help ensure you come home to a fresh place.

When you're preparing for a family vacation or a big work trip, your to-do list can feel never-ending. But in between preparing passports and packing suitcases, you're going to want to add one more item to your priority list: cleaning these 5 spots in your home. It will take a few minutes now to clean and disinfect these areas, but it could prevent pests and help you avoid coming home to an unpleasantly smelly house a week from now.

While it's nice to come back from vacation to a tidy bedroom and sparkling clean kitchen, this list sticks to the must-cleans and skips the extras, ideal for when you're pressed for time. Have one more hour to devote? Go ahead and expand this list to include making your bed, wiping down the counters, and tidying up your kids' toys so you're greeted by a house you'll be happy to come home to.

Take Out the Trash

Consider this cleaning priority number one. If you forget to take out the trash before you skip town for a week, you're likely to be greeted by a foul smell, as well as pests. Rotting trash can attract bugs and rodents, so you'll thank yourself later if you take a few minutes to finish this chore on your way out the door.

Take it one step further: take a peek inside your refrigerator. Grab any perishables that are likely to go bad while you're away and toss them into the trash can before you empty them.

Hand-Wash the Dishes or Run the Dishwasher

Avoid leaving any dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter. The food remnants can attract bugs into your kitchen. The night before you leave, fill and run the dishwasher, or if you have just a few dirty dishes that don't warrant a full cycle, hand-wash them before you head to the airport.

Clean the Toilet (And Give an Extra Flush)

Before you leave on your trip, give your toilet bowl a quick clean. Then, sprinkle in a bit of baking soda and give it an extra flush to make sure there's no lingering debris in the pipe.

Freshen Up the Garbage Disposal

No one wants to come home to a stinky garbage disposal (not to mention the flies it can attract), so pour some distilled white vinegar down the disposal and flush with water, letting it run for one minute. For a fresh scent, add some lemon peels and run the machine again.

Do the Laundry

If you leave a pile of damp bath towels in your hamper for a week, there's a good chance you'll come home to mildewy towels. Instead, set aside time a day or two before you leave to finish up that last batch of laundry. Really crunched for time? Hang up towels or dirty items rather than letting them stew in a hamper for seven days. An added bonus: doing your laundry before you leave means you'll be able to pack clean clothes for your trip.

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