- Dirty clothes and general filth
We’re going to start with the obvious ones, since some guys are apparently unaware. You shouldn’t have dirty clothes laying around your apartment, especially if someone’s coming over. Buy a hamper, put them in a cardboard box, or just skip the middlemen at the Laundromat and set your filthy undergarments on fire. In any case, you shouldn’t have t-shirts hanging from doorknobs or soiled jeans acting as a makeshift carpet. Likewise, take the time to clean before visitors come over. Maybe light a few candles, but don’t go nuts. Ideally, your home won’t look like the house from the Tales from the Crypt intro.
- Dirty dishes
This warrants its own item, since some dudes apparently don’t see dirty dishes as a problem. It’s real simple: If you dirty a dish, clean it off (or put it in your dishwasher, if you’re lucky enough to have one). No woman wants to sort through 50 cheese-encrusted plates to get a glass of water.
- Your sports memorabilia
Hey, you’ve got a signed ball from the Chicago Cubs’ recent World Series victory—awesome, there’s probably a place for that in your study. However, you can part with the soiled game jersey from the single-season third baseman who played with the Albuquerque Isotopes in 1977. Too much sports memorabilia shows that you’re kind of a little kid at heart, and while that can be cute, women generally don’t want to date kids (uh, generally). It’s okay to keep some stuff around, but recognize that less is more here. Don’t make it the centerpiece of the room.
- Posters of just about anything
Likewise, posters aren’t cool past the age of 14. Of course, you can make an exception for those one-of-a-kind concert posters designed by an actual artist, provided they’re in a nice frame. But beyond that? Ditch ’em. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to kiss the woman who came into your apartment, she’s going to feel the eyes of your Rambo poster on her, and it’s going to make her feel weird. Consider replacing the frameless, wrinkled posters with literally anything else. Seriously, staple some broccoli to the wall—it’s less disconcerting.
Nothing puts a damper on a nice evening like a cockroach scuttling across the floor. Granted, some bug problems are unavoidable; every place is going to have a couple of spiders. But if your house is crawling with critters, you’re a bigger problem than the actual bugs. Start cleaning up, and if necessary, hire an exterminator, but don’t invite anyone over until the average number of legs in your apartment is two.
- Sexist stuff
Sexist insects are a particularly big problem. Nobody wants to get catcalled by a praying mantis. Jokes aside, if you’ve got “girly magazines” or anything else offensive laying around your apartment, put them away or get rid of them before guests come over. Don’t try to blame them on your roommate, either—unless they’re actually your roommate’s, in which case you can feel free to throw the stuff at him while yelling “begone, foul demon.” That’s pretty much the only way to really prove it.
- Nothing in the refrigerator
Women pay attention. If there’s nothing in your refrigerator other than a bottle of ketchup and some takeout containers, they’ll know that you don’t cook for yourself. That’s a problem, because these days, everyone should know how to cook at least one dish that doesn’t require a box with “instant dinner” written on it. Even if it’s just for show, go buy some carrots or an exotic-looking fruit of some sort. Maybe leave a recipe book laying out, provided that it doesn’t look like this:
- A complete lack of books
We’ve all heard the old John Waters quote, “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t f*** them.” And it’s no word of a lie, boys. Books are the sign of an active mind. If you don’t have any books hanging around your house, it’s a potential turn-off for women. Of course, there’s someone for everyone, and if you really hate reading, you can probably find a woman who thinks Walt Whitman was the guy who invented Mickey Mouse. Still, if you want to impress, pick up some reading material that doesn’t have pictures.
- Pet fur everywhere
Women love animals, but if you’ve got a long-haired dog, you need to put some work in. Nothing makes a place feel scummier than a bunch of dog-hair tumbleweeds blowing around. Whether you shell out $50 every few weeks for a groomer or buy one of those specialized hairbrushes from the infomercials, keep your dog’s coat from invading the rest of your apartment. Maybe try collecting all of the hair and fashioning it into a second dog that she can take home. Women love that.
- Pictures of ex-girlfriends
If you just got through a big breakup, we could understand why you’d have a few pictures hanging around, but you need to dump some of that stuff before you start dating again. Otherwise, your new date won’t know what to think; are you hung up on her? Planning to get revenge somehow? Will you start crying as soon as you make eye contact with the photo? In any case, it’s not a good look, but it’s surprisingly common.
- No hand towels or trash can in the bathroom
You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to know that hand towels and trash cans are essential items for keeping your bathroom clean. If you don’t have either, you’ve probably got some unsavory habits. The hand towels are especially important. Make sure that they’re laundered, as nobody wants to rub their hands on a grubby rag. Oh, and try to find one of those little trashcans with a miniature lid; they’re great for hiding the contents of your trashcan.
- The overpowering smell of air freshener
You know what doesn’t smell good? Air freshener. Fragrance sprays don’t actually eliminate odor, they just add “apple cinnamon” to whatever your house smelled like before. “Apple cinnamon dirty underwear” smell is somehow worse than plain old dirty underwear smell. If you have to use something to fight an odor, go with scented candles or a scent diffuser. But pro tip: only get one. Otherwise, you’ll have dueling scents, which will add to your apartment funk in the worst way possible.
- Unframed photos
You can head down to your local big box store and pick up a decent frame for less than $7. Frames make a difference; with a frame, a photo looks like a nice, welcoming reminder of the good old days. But if you put up a bunch of photos without frames, you just look like you’re planning some kind of an intricate bank heist, Ocean’s 11–style. Do yourself a favor and spend a few bucks on some decent frames.
- That one spot on the toilet, right behind the bolt securing it to the floor
You know the part that we’re talking about. It’s right behind the bolt cover. When it’s clean, it’s the sign of a home that’s truly well-prepared for visitors. When it’s filthy, it seems to attract every bit of hair, dust, and grease in the house.