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The Single Man’s Guide to Cleanliness

There are many pros to bachelorhood: Living without the constant presence of a partner often means living la vida loca before taking the plunge and settling down. The problem is that sometimes our relaxed lifestyle can work against us, especially when we’d like to play the role of put-together host for a potential or existing flame, but our place screams Van Wilder much more loudly than it does van Gogh.

Women actually pick up a lot of cues about a guy from his pad – for better or for worse. If your place could use a little sprucing up, we’ve got you covered: This guide was written to help you pull yourself together, man, whether you have an hour or a week before your lady friend makes an appearance. Read on for tips on how to make a great impression, whether your gal is dropping by for the first or fiftieth time.

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How to Clean Up in a Hurry

We get it – there’s not always time (or energy, or motivation) to do a full-day’s worth of housecleaning before having a special guest over. But actually, you don’t need much time or the knowhow of Martha Stewart to make your place presentable. The following tips will get your home spic and span with both time and sanity to spare.

One of the first impressions any visitor will have when checking out your digs is how it smells. You don’t have to invest in frilly scented candles or Febreze the living daylights out of your humble abode, but take some of the obvious measures by checking some common olfactory offenders. Make sure your trash cans have been emptied (preferably after you’ve thrown out any used cleaning supplies!), run the dishwasher or garbage disposal if they’re radiating any lingering odors, and put some baking soda in those well-worn gym shoes chilling by the front door.

When you’re pressed for time, simply making the bed will instantly make your bedroom look a hundred times more put-together than leaving it undone. You’ll also want to be sure to pick anything up off the floor and clear clutter off of your dresser or nightstand. If you don’t have time to get completely organized, toss any dirty laundry into the hamper, and stick it and any other knickknacks making your space look chaotic in your closet, and keep the closet door closed. Any normal home tour won’t include a visit inside of it.

To clean your floors in a time crunch, think big: Focusing on larger spaces rather than nooks, crannies and the surfaces under large pieces of furniture will save you both time and stress. You can quickly vacuum carpeted areas by starting on the interior of a room and working your way out of it – this way, you don’t have to worry about going over the same area a bunch of times (a major time suck – pun intended), and you won’t track new dirt in once you’re finished. Tile and hardwood floors can easily be gone over with a Swiffer wet or dry floor tool or a similar product, and allow you to quickly clean against baseboards, where sneaky gunk tends to accumulate.

Clean other surfaces, too. You may be tuned out to the dusty surfaces of objects like your computer desk and TV stand, but your guest may not be – especially if said dust triggers any allergies she may have. It’s worth it to take 10 minutes wiping down those often-neglected tabletops and electronics screens with a microfiber cloth. You may also want to do a spot-check on mirrors and other glass that may benefit from a quick polish, but there’s no need to break out the window-washing gear when you’re in a pinch.

Put a little bit of elbow grease into cleaning your bathroom (and then, you know, clean up the grease). This is one of the rooms where more than likely, your lady friend will visit solo at some point, whether to use it for its intended purpose or to powder her nose. Either way, she may very well be scoping this space out, whether consciously or not (don’t you find something to focus on while doing your business?). But don’t fret – you can easily clean your toilet, sink and bathroom floor in under 15 minutes, and simply close your shower curtain in order to skip the dreaded and time-consuming task of cleaning the bathtub. Bonus points for putting out clean towels!

The kitchen is another space in your home you’ll want to make sure is tidied up, no matter how strapped you are for time. Simply wiping countertops, stovetops and other surfaces like the fronts of the fridge and microwave and giving the inside of your sink a quick cleaning will add noticeable sparkle. The big thing you may have to devote a little extra time to is washing dishes. If you have a dishwasher, toss any dishes sitting in the sink in, and if you have time, run a cycle – that way, you won’t have to worry about any surviving odors from last night’s (and the night before that’s) spaghetti plates. If you don’t have a dishwasher, do the work by hand. Don’t worry about taking the time to dry and put them away if you don’t have time – few people are as turned off by a drying rack of clean dishes as they are by a sink full of dirty ones.


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Let’s Do This: Taking the Time to Deep Clean

When you do have the extra time to really dive into cleaning and organizing – or you just want to make a serious impression on someone – you’ll get the most bang for your buck by heeding the following advice. It’s time well spent, too – spending a day or a weekend taking care of the things you’ve been putting off will help keep you better prepared for any future surprise drop-ins.

Giving your living room a thorough cleaning is easiest if you start at the top and work your way down. Start by dusting or washing high surfaces like ceiling fans and light fixtures, so any grime that falls to the floor won’t undo your mad mopping or vacuuming skills. This is also when you may want to consider getting into the nitty gritty areas most people tend to exclude from their routine cleaning sessions. Has it been awhile since you introduced glass cleaner to your windows? Have you ever attached that weird, flat-headed hose to your vacuum cleaner and run it over your blinds or curtains? Give it a go. From there, you can move on to lower surfaces that need dusting and maybe even polishing. Finally, hit the deck and clean your floors. Don’t forget to move your furniture, and address any stains that your pets (or favorite full-bodied stout) may have left behind.

It can be cathartic to have a fresh, clean bedroom to crash in every night. Because this is the room where many of us spend most of our time at home (even if only because we sleep there), it can be one of the spaces most in need of a good cleaning. You can multitask by throwing your bedding in the washing machine, and getting busy with other tasks while they’re in there. In addition to incorporating some of the sanitation strategies from the living room – dusting from high to low places, busting out the wood polish, and moving furniture so your vacuum can find every last dust bunny – this is also a good time to go through your closet and drawers, and consider donating items you haven’t put to use in the last year or so.

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to deep cleaning the kitchen. The bad news is that if it’s been a while since you’ve tackled it (or if your kitchen hasn’t seen a clean sponge since the previous tenant resided there), it’s going to take you some time. The good news is that a periodic meticulous cleaning session will make your chore time quicker and easier in the long run, since you’ll mostly be in maintenance mode thereafter. Real Simple’s website has a great checklist for going about this project – including scrubbing cabinets and appliances, and vacuuming out drawers – and suggests setting aside a chunk of a few hours, or spacing the tasks out over a few days. (If you’re having pest problems, cleaning the kitchen is a good place to start to eliminate their favorite hiding places.)

The place we go to take care of our own hygiene can be, well, pretty unhygienic itself should we slack on some of the necessary germ-killing protocols. Although you may still have to do some scrubbing, there are plenty of all-purpose bathroom cleaning products that you can spray in your tub, sink and on your shower wall that can be left to sit for a while before laying on any sponge action, making the job quite a bit easier. Toilet cleaning can also be reduced to minimal effort: Try using a toilet bowl cleaner that sits for a few minutes while you clean the seat (seriously, you’ve got to clean the seat!) and the outside of the toilet tank and bowl, and then use a brush to give the inside a quick scrub to finish up. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed (or under-motivated), check out this handy list of suggestions on making bathroom care a breeze.


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A Quick Note on the Main Attraction – You

If you live alone, or live with another male roommate, it’s not uncommon to let your personal hygiene habits slide a bit. And although you may not think there’s anything wrong with how your body or breath smells, a visitor probably will – especially if you plan on getting up close and personal. We hate to put on our Captain Obvious hat here, but don’t forget to shower, brush your teeth, put on deodorant, and change your clothes every few days or so. (I’m kidding on that last one – but really, put on some clean clothes.) And as for those wrinkles that might be in your garment – consider smoothing them out with an iron, or by throwing the pants or shirt in question in the dryer with a wet towel. The steam from the drying towel will help relax the wrinkles.

Before a date – whether you’re staying in or going out – pamper yourself with a little grooming. If your friend has accepted your invitation for a home-cooked meal or a movie night in, odds are, they dig you – and as such, is probably a fan of your personal style. If you typically rock a beard or know how to pull off a bedhead look, you don’t have to stray from your comfort zone by going clean-shaven or gelling your hair flat into submission. But what you should do is take pride in your appearance by looking well-kempt – you know, clear the crumbs out of your beard, or run a brush through your mane a couple of times before sporting that man bun. Don’t change your style for the sake of a date, but just as you did with your place, put a little effort into your appearance.


Cleaning is the favorite pastime of very few men, but the results can pay off big time by giving you the confidence to invite those most special to you (no shame if that’s your mother). After all, one of the greatest parts of having a bachelor pad is having a place people want to spend time in!

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