Your Clean Person is headed on vacaaaation. But before I go, how about a checklist of the things that need to be done in the home before leaving it idle for some time? Sure thing! So here's your pre-vacation clean-up routine:

The Must-Dos:

  • Wash, dry, and put away all dirty dishes.
  • Wipe down kitchen counters and sweep the floors to make sure you're not accidentally leaving around any potential critter-bait.
  • Open the refrigerator. If you'll be gone for more than a week, throw everything remotely perishable out. If your trip takes you out of town for less than a week, use your best judgment about tossing stuff. Produce should mostly go. Butter, eggs, cheese, that will be fine. Milk is dicey — I wouldn't want to drink five-day-old open milk, but I'm generally skeevy about milk anyway, so you do what works best for your and your particular neuroses.
  • Take out the trash and the recycling. This includes emptying any wastebins scattered about the house.

The Nice-To-Dos:

  • Change the bed linens. Won't it be nice to come home from a wearying day (or days) of travel and be able to fall into a freshly made bed? Yes, yes it will be. Treat yourself to that. Similarly, make sure you have clean towels for that hot shower you're going to take the minute you walk in, because eew eew eew travel sludge eew.
  • If you have odor issues with your mattress and/or pillows, you might want to consider stripping your bed and leaving it unsheeted while you're away to let it air out. If you go this route, do yourself a favor and leave fresh sheets and pillowcases folded at the foot of your bed, so that when you come home exhausted and ready to hit the hay you can make that bed up as fast as possible.
  • Put away all your clean clothes, and place anything dirty in your laundry bin. When you get home with a suitcase full of dirty underpants and that skirt you didn't end up wearing and 30 new pairs of Havaianas, it will be a lot easier to unpack and cope if there aren't clothes strewn all about the place.
  • Give the bathroom — especially the shower — a once over before you go. Again, it will be nice to come home to a clean bathroom.

And with that, my little bleach bunnies, I'm off to commune with the spirit of Hestia atop a Mexican mountain.

An version of the above originally appeared on The Hairpin on 20 October 2011.