When a woman walks into your place, you want her to have the overwhelming desire to come back, not the urge to run away screaming. We spoke with 10 women who have, unfortunately for both parties involved, experienced the latter. They divulged the grossest, most cringe-worthy messes they've come across in a guy's apartment. But we're not going to leave you with just that.
We took these real-life scenarios and gave them to Melissa Maker, cleaning expert, president and host of cleaning service Clean My Space. For over 10 years, Maker's been helping guys tidy their spaces—for emergency drop-ins from Mom—and keep them tidy—for surprise visits from the cute girl down the hall who locked herself out.
"We've cleaned hundreds of guys' apartments and homes and seen everything," Maker says. "A cleaning service is discrete and helps you do things you couldn't otherwise do for yourself if you don't have the time but have the resources."
Don't have the resources to hire a cleaning service? Don't worry. From your bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, and beyond, we're exposing the things that need cleaning—and the hacks you need to make the cleaning possible.
1. Hair trimmings or toothpaste in the sink
The problem: "I can't stand it when guys leave their hair and whiskers in and around the sink, makes me want to gag." - Alex W.
The solution: Keep a roll of disposable disinfecting wipes under your sink. "Whenever you have a woman coming over either for dinner or overnight, grab a wipe and clean the counter to remove stray hairs left behind from shaving as well as any crusty toothpaste in the sink," Maker says. Give the faucet a quick once-over, too. Want to make cleanup much less daunting? Keep a cup by the sink and rinse off any residue every time you brush your teeth, wash your face, or shave. You won't have to go through the yuck factor of dehairing your sink or scraping away any toothpaste.
2. Stains inside the toilet
The problem: "I'm not sure why it's so difficult, but it seriously grosses me out when guys leave stains and a ring inside the toilet, when they don’t put the seat down, and when there’s pee on the floor around the toilet…" - Rachael F.
The solution(s): She’s going to use your bathroom. There’s no workaround to that. First thing's first: Make sure there’s toilet paper. (Yes, women need that.) Don't make her dig around in your cabinets for toilet paper. We're not telling you to buy the pillow-quilted sheets, just stock the basics, please.
For any stains inside the bowl, purchase a toilet bowl cleaner and a generic toilet brush. "It literally takes under three minutes to clean a toilet," Maker says. Follow the instructions on the cleaner, which are typically just to squirt some around the upper rim of the bowl then scrub until everything's clean.
No woman wants to face a toilet situation so bad she has to hover. That’s reserved for public restrooms, not the bathroom of someone she’s thinking of shacking up with. Save her the leg workout and put those disposable wipes to use again. "Give the seat, base, bowl, and floor a wipe (or good scrubbing). Your life will be made exponentially easier if you just clean up any spray the moment it happens so you’re not dealing with a sticky, gag-worthy situation.
Oh, and always keep the seat down! If you can't seem to break the habit, stores have spring-loaded toilet attachments that automatically push the seat down when you’re done.
3. Musty towels and moldy shower curtains
The problems: "My biggest pet peeve is when the shower curtain's filthy… like it hasn't been changed in years and there’s so much buildup of soap and scum and mold that the bottom is black. I also dated a guy who shared a bathroom with his two roomates. Their shower curtain was clear plastic. Clear. And the bathroom door's lock was broken. Let's just say his rommate got an eyeful of me showering one night, and needless to say I never showered there again." - Brianna S.
"When they don’t wash their bathroom towels frequently so they all smell musty and moldy." -Ann S.
The solutions: "The next time you launder your towels, toss in the shower curtain; the towels will help scrub and remove the mold and mildew," Maker says. "If your shower curtain’s in really bad shape, or your towels are super musty, wash them with a cup of regular detergent and white vinegar to blast away any smells and residue," she adds. Most shower curtains are machine washable—unless otherwise stated—just don't pop them in the dryer: plastic burns. Hang them back up in your shower to air dry.
As for your towels, get in the habit of changing them twice a week just for your own hygiene. And if you’re expecting a lady caller, stock your bathroom with extra hand, face, and bath towels. Even if you’ve been dating for a while, she deserves her own germ-free towels. Oh, and ditch the old, dingy towels from college. No woman wants to towel off with Cabo spring break towels that have lived well past their prime. "You don’t need to be an interior designer, but your towels shouldn’t look tattered," Maker says. "They should look fresh and hotel-like; grab monochromatic towels—white, blue, or grey." You’ll seem less like a frat boy and more like someone she'll want to visit again.
4. Dirty dishes
The problem: “I’ve seen days old, even weeks old, food crusted on plates on coffee tables and pans in the sink. I’m talking spaghetti and meatballs just rotting away in their living space. Then it got me thinking how long it had been there…” - Liz C.
The solution: You see the remnants of last night's (or week's) meal lying around for what it is: dirty dishes. Women see an entirely different picture. "A girl who visits a guy's apartment for the first time and sees a huge mess is going to think 'Oh, great. This guy can't clean up after himself,'" Maker says.
Unfortunately, there’s no real quick fix for this one if things get too far out of hand. "You just have to be diligent about loading and unloading the dishwasher or washing by hand as you go," says Maker. But if you do find yourself in a situation where there are tons of dirty dishes around, fill the sink with hot water and a few squirts of dish soap. Throw everything in the sink and work your way from cutlery to glasses, plates to pans. "If something’s really stuck on, you can use a bit of baking soda to help loosen the gunk," Maker says. Rinse and lay flat on dish towels or use your dishwasher as a drain board to dry.
5. Dirty clothes EVERYWHERE
The problem: "I hate walking in to a guy's room and his dirty underwear is strewn all over the floor or he's got a mountain of laundry stacked in a corner." - Alexa P.
The solution: "I recommend any guy get a laundry tri-sorter," Maker says. "It’s a three-sectioned laundry hamper that you can use for lights, colors, and darks, or whites, colors, and towels." If you're in a time bind, you can at least slam dunk all your floor clothes into the bin to keep your slob tendencies secret at least for a little while. Get into the habit of throwing everything in the hamper or folding and hanging your clean clothes. A minute here and there versus the time it takes to clean up a mess of huge proportions is a no-brainer. You're better than that.
6. No curtains on the windows
The problem: "An ex boyfriend didn't have curtains on his bedroom windows, so I basically ran the risk of flashing any neighbor when I changed. And obviously we'd have to have sex in the dark so we didn't give half the block a free show. Just the worst." - Kirsten S.
The solution: Don't even think about tacking a towel or bed sheet to the wall above the window. Be the adult your mother knows you can be and go to the store. Any store. The clearance section of a flagship like Target or even a dollar store will provide you with what you need—for cheap. "You may not mind, but it’s a privacy issue," Maker says. And you not doing anything about it will prove you don't care about her comfort. "Also, curtains and blinds help your sleep hygiene," she adds. Your quality of sleep depends on minimal distractions and disruptions. If you make her feel comfortable (a.k.a. she can actually sleep at your place) it will make her want to come back. Get a few screws, a drill, and dress your damn windows.
7. Stained bedding
The problem: "I will straight up refuse to sleep with a guy or stay the night if he has strange stains on his sheets or comforter. I'm not rolling around in your filth or wondering how many girls have been here before." - Danielle C.
The solution: Whether your comforter bears the mark from eating Chinese food in bed, a surprise bloody nose in the middle of the night, or remnants from your last rendezvous: wash immediately. This isn't the boy scouts where your endeavors earn you badges that you keep as a mark of achievement. Any of these stains should come out if you pretreat with some detergent and pop in the washing machine (just follow the care label on the tag). A lot of guys are intimated to clean a comforter. If you're one of them and don't want to deal with the fuss, purchase a duvet cover. it slips over your comforter and is much easier to clean.
There are also a few things you should NOT do:
1. Don't put the comforter on your bed unless it's fully dry. Otherwise, it’ll get moldy and cause all sorts of smells.
2. Don't try to spot treat. You can’t spot clean a comforter with a stain like that because it'll create a ring when it dries, and look super precarious and gross.
3. Don't cram your comforter in the washing machine. If the machine isn't big enough, it won't clean the comforter. Take it to the Laundromat.
8. A smelly bedroom
The problem: "A smelly bedroom is a major deal breaker. A, it speaks volumes of his cleanliness. And B, how could I ever spend time there—especially if he's in an apartment where that's his only personal space."
The solutions: "Your first line of offense is to open your windows and air everything out for as long as it takes," Maker says. "Your second line of defense is to wash your linens." Odds are the funky smell is coming from stale, dirty laundry—unless you're smoking indoors in which case you need to seriously reconsider your lifestyle behaviors. "People don’t realize this, but you sweat a pint of liquid every night," Maker explains. You've got dead skin, body oils, dust mites, and so many odor-causing culprits soaking in to your pajamas and bed sheets. Yeah, gross. Treat your pajamas like you would your workout clothes.
Speaking of which, if you store your gym bag in your room and it's stinking up a corner, pop a couple of silicon gel bags (the small packaged ones that come in shoe boxes). Moisture allows bacteria to fester, but these little bags absorb water, Maker explains. This hack won’t get rid of smells, but it’ll keep your gym bag and sweaty shoes from harboring bacteria, which will prevent any odors from forming.
Overall, if you want your bedroom or any room of the house to have a fresh-scent boost, get an aromatherapy scent diffuser. The small device can be infused with essential oils like eucalyptus and even act as a purifier and humidifier. Plug-ins and sprays tend to be a bit too strong. Plus, you'll get major points from any girl who comes over. And if your room, bathroom, kitchen, or any room for that matter is really smelly, put a bowl of white vinegar out for a day or two. Vinegar—as well as coffee grinds and baking soda—will suck up the odors.
9. Garbage bins without liners
The problem: "Garbage bins that don’t have bags. I don’t want to see used condoms, tissues, or anything else just hanging loose in a trash bin…" - Becky A.
The solution: There's no hack to this aside from simply clearing away your trash. "Think of it as a crime scene," Maker says. "You want to get rid of any damning evidence and telltale signs of previous encounters before a new girl comes over. Be a decent guy. Empty the garbage and line the bin with a grocery store bag at the very least.
10. Dirty floors
The problem: "When the floors are so dirty, you’re terrified to walk barefoot; there’s food, dirt, hair—all hanging out on hardwood floors. Or, the carpets are so severely stained because guys never think to clean up food and drink spills." - Marissa R.
The solution: As a guy, a vacuum cleaner isn’t on the top of your item wish list. But it’s really essential to keeping your floors clean. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just buy a plug-in or chargeable one. “It’s super creepy when you have dead bugs, hair, and dust in corners,” Maker says. The same goes for your furniture. Use a hand-held vacuum or lint roller to whisk away stray pet hairs from furniture. "You want a woman to feel comfortable—to be able to take her shoes off and walk through your place without feeling stressed out or grossed out," Maker says. "A woman doesn't want to feel like she's taking on a project or come under the impression that you can't take care of yourself."