How To: Holiday-proof your house

Suitcase

As I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t been on many holidays since moving to Qatar. I’ve just had my 2nd trip this year and upon my return was met with one of the worst possible sights after 15 hours of travel: a filthy house drowning in dust. I mean drowning. I have never seen so much dust. It was as if we left every door and window open and then invited 5 dust storms to blow through. 5. Granted, Qatar did experience one of the worst sand storms in recent memory but regardless, I still think the dust would have been a problem.

It seems that my novice ways have been exposed, leaving me with an acute allergic reaction (in the form of a face-rash. Nice) and a sound lesson learned: never go travelling without dust-proofing your house.

Now, I should point out that I don’t have a cleaner or maid. If I did, this post would be about the necessity of having your domestic helper of choice schedule a spruce up the day before you return home. Any longer, and it will look like no one has ever cleaned the place at all. It would also be a post where I would recommend that you should expect to pay that person double wages because if your house looks anything like mine did after 2 weeks away, it would take about 6 hours to clean!

But alas, it was left to me and The Coach to tackle, room by room. Really, this post is a letter to my future self so I never have to go through this pain again.

So here it is: How to holiday-proof your house in Qatar.

General rules

  • Pack away everything you can including photo frames, books and the kettle! Leave as many benches, shelves and floors bare so that you can easily dust them when you get back.
  • Turn off all appliances and pull the plugs out of the wall so that you don’t use up electricity while you’re away. You also don’t want to risk a fire (I have no idea how a plugged-in TV could catch alight but it’s best not to take chances with these things!).

Bathroom

Toilet: Close the lid! If you don’t, the water will evaporate from the heat, the dust will get in and stain the porcelain and you will have to explain this quagmire to every guest who ever wishes to use it.

Toiletries: If you have these out in on the edge of your bathtub, consider packing them away into a cupboard while you’re away. This includes toilet paper!

Shower: When you get home, don’t get straight in the shower without first testing the water. After our holiday I had to run the taps for 5 minutes before the brown muddy water turned clear. Yuk.

Exhaust fan: Most bathrooms have an exhaust fan. I suspect this is where most of the dust gets in but I’m not sure if it’s safe to keep it running constantly while you’re away. Your call I guess. If you’re not so worried about your carbon footprint I’m sure that leaving it switched on would help keep the dust out.

Kitchen

Dishwasher: Obviously, don’t leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher because that would just be gross, but also don’t put a cycle on just before you go and expect to come home to newly washed plates. If you’re not there to let the steam out once the wash has finished all that moisture will just mope around in your dishwasher and make everything in there smell like a soggy cloth. Similarly, don’t just wait for the cycle to finish and then just before you walk out the door leave the dishwasher door slightly ajar in the hope that it will ‘air’ while you’re away. It’ll air alright, but if that air is full of dust, you’ll have to do the whole wash again. Apparently…

Fridge: Empty the fridge of anything you don’t want. And FYI – zucchini doesn’t last for 2 weeks in the fridge. Limes do. You’re welcome.

Water: I keep a jug of water next to my spot on the couch and beside my bed. For some unknown reason I didn’t empty these out before we left and they had that horrible condensation thing going on. So, empty all jugs and bottles before you go.

Bedrooms

Bed: If I had my time again I would have stripped the bed of sheets etc and put the pillows in a cupboard. Sleeping on dusty pillow is not so glam.

Cupboards: Make sure all your cupboards and draws are closed.

Living Room

Furniture: If you have spare sheets, cover your furniture. No spare sheets? Get creative. I’d cover my stupid couch in glad wrap if it meant the dust would stay out of it.

Outdoor area

Furniture: Bring any outdoor furniture inside. As a fierce advocate for water conservation I absolutely do not support hosing down outdoor furniture to clean it, and neither should you!

Doors: This might sound extreme but if you have doors to a garden/balcony I’d strongly consider putting a towel or similar along the bottom to stop any dust coming in.

 

Even after all that, you’ll still probably have to vacuum the door jams, but at least you won’t have to dust your toothbrush like I did! Bon voyage.

Holiday - dust

My hall table

Do you have any tips for holiday-proofing your house? How do you get around the problem of all this dust? Let me know in the comments section below.

Image from here

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