Karen Belz
April 25, 2014 1:00 pm

If you try to envision a “bachelor pad”, you probably picture dim rooms littered with bottles and soda cans, and probably with carpets in need of a decent cleaning. Vice recently profiled a few of these rooms, before and after a man co-habitated with a woman. “Being a single male means not having expectations put on you by someone else. The living space of a single man often dramatically changes when he lives with a woman,” writer Michael Rababy said. “As a rule, the woman’s aesthetic wins, and that’s usually a good thing.”

First off – really? All women are clean, and all men are pigs? I guess you never took a look at my “bachelorette” pad when I was single, Michael. Spoiler Alert: It was disgusting. However, one thing is true: when you live with someone else, whether it be a romantic interest or a roommate, chances are that you’re more likely to consider the appearance of your shared living space. You’re not just keeping up appearances for yourself – you’re doing it for someone else, and the potential guests they might randomly bring over.

If you want to avoid the stereotype of being a messy bachelor or bachelorette, here are 7 solid tips that will help you prove them wrong.

1. Don’t Let Dishes Pile Up.

It seems simple, but sometimes it’s just so hard to do. The problem with a dish pile is that it’s kind of difficult not to add to the mess when it’s already created. Don’t use the excuse of “They’re soaking!” while letting them sit in the sink for a few days. If you have a dishwasher and can’t justify washing 3 dishes at a time, at least store them in there until you have a full load, so you can use your sink for other stuff. Dirty dishes can attract bugs, and without a doubt, are smelly. Plus, the melted cheese from your experimental microwave nacho project will be much tougher to clean if you don’t clean it immediately.

2. Clothes Belong In A Hamper, A Closet, Or A Drawer

Not the dryer, or all over your floor. That rhyme was super unintentional, by the way.

We all have moments where we don’t know what to wear, and the contenders end up crumpled up next to your bed instead of back in the closet. Clothing on the floor can make a living space look way more cluttered than it is, and it’s pretty easy to clean up unless you’re already in the habit. If you’re used to getting changed in the bathroom (or leaving clothes in there as you disrobe to hit the showers), make sure to pick them up and take them to the hamper immediately. Water and clothing don’t mix, unless it’s mixed with detergent and in the washing machine. (Or a bucket, if you hand-wash.)

3. Throw Out Junk Mail Immediately.

Great, some fliers to that store you don’t go to arrived today, addressed to “Resident”! Face it. You’re not going to use those coupons. You’ll say you will, and then remember them 4 months after they’ve expired. Unless you’re really interested in what those circulars have to say, trash them immediately. Otherwise they’ll get kicked under your couch, and make their grand re-appearance after you move.

4. Try To Vacuum. You Don’t Know What You’ll Find.

My Dad insisted that I get a vacuum for my bachelorette pad, and I couldn’t deny the fact that refusing this claim would lessen my “adult” percentage. Unfortunately, I chose a lightweight, bag version that just wasn’t my style, and promptly fell apart every time it was used. It became part of the comedy act that I performed by myself, for an audience of one (my cat). I refused to replace it, since better vacuums were just really expensive. Bad choice, young Karen. Bad choice indeed.

Think about carpets in general: You usually walk barefoot on them, you accidentally spill stuff on them, they are exposed to all elements, and if you have a pet (see: cat, above) they’re pretty much like a gigantic hairbrush for your furry companion. By vacuuming regularly makes a huge difference, and as a bonus, it’s a pretty good exercise.

5. Candles Smell Great, And Can Improve The Mood

Good candles are priceless, and my personal favorites come from Bath & Body Works. Not only are they affordable, but since the store is famous for their scents, you’re guaranteed that they won’t smell like hot cough syrup.

I personally prefer candles in a jar, since they’re actually contained and help ease my fear of lighting the place on fire. Not only can they freshen up your apartment, but they can improve your mood and create a nice little ambiance that can’t be matched.

6. Maintain Your Pets

Speaking of carpets made of cat hair, let’s talk about your pets. If you live alone, there’s a good chance you might have a pet to keep you company. It could be a goldfish, or a dog – or anything in between. Not only is it cruel to leave your fish to swim in murky waters, but it’s a great sign that the bathroom probably doesn’t look much better.

If you keep a cluttered apartment, keep in mind that your garbage is preventing your dog from rocketing all over the house with bursts of energy, which is kind of adorable to witness. Your pets are technically your roommates who don’t pay rent.

If you have a cat? Maintain that litter. Bad litter can permeate throughout an entire apartment, and nothing will be able to hide it. Let’s face it – it’s poop left in the open. (Also, your cat will be very appreciative.)

7. Always Make Sure To Toss Out Bathroom Garbage 

Bathroom garbage is the worst garbage – especially if you’re a girl. Some of the items we use are (necessary, yet) super gross, and we don’t want to stare at them days after the fact. I’m sure you’ve all been at an acquaintances place during college, and I’m sure that you’ve witnessed a weird amount of bathroom trash while using the bathroom for its intended purposes. If you’ve graduated from college, there’s no excuse for that anymore. Also, check and see which of your shampoo and conditioner bottles can be recycled, if you want to feel extra good about cleaning up.

You might not be a naturally clean person, but at least you can prevent yourself from being embarrassed by an unannounced drop-in visitor. The best way to keep a clean place is to make a habit over doing minor tasks at certain times – even if it means setting a phone reminder to take the trash out at 8 PM every night.

These tips are meant for both men and women – since when it comes down to it, nobody celebrates over having to clean a toilet, but we sure have a right to celebrate taking on the task and improving our lifestyles.

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