White brunette holding head in hands, distressed by cluttered closet and shelves

Operation Anti-Clutter: How to Clean Up Your Dorm Room

Dorms can get out of control, but having a messy one will only make you feel more overwhelmed. Here's how to keep your room clean (for longer than a week)!

Congratulations—you’re more than halfway through the school year, which has consisted of lots of studying, friends, laundry, and finals. A quick round of applause for you! We’re approaching spring, which brings with it a whole new set of problems…the first of which lies in something that may be in desperate need of cleaning. Here’s a clue: You’re probably in it right now. If you said your dorm room, you’d be correct!

Second semester is a chance for you to either continue your good work or redeem yourself. How can you begin to do that when your room looks like a tornado ran through it? I admit that after finals, dorm rooms can get a little messy. But having a messy room will only make you more overwhelmed for a new round of classes and exams. Don’t worry—I’ll help you keep your room clean (for longer than a week). Here's how.

First: Sweep or vacuum your floor

This is something that should be done as soon as you come back from a break. I know from experience that dorm room floors can get pretty dirty if they haven’t been cleaned since move-in day. If you’re still not convinced, imagine your floor is like your teeth; if you don’t brush your teeth for six months, they’re not going to look or smell the best. Even a quick sweep of the floor can make your room look a lot neater, and maybe you’ll find that missing sock you lost during first semester. Long story short: Clean your floor!

Related: 8 Important Steps for Your Dorm Spring Cleaning

Get rid of the stuff you aren’t using a lot

Whether it’s an extra storage bin, books from last semester, or even that old microwave you brought from home: If you aren’t using it, you need to get rid of it. If you didn’t use it during first semester, then you won’t use it now. I’m not saying throw this stuff away—give it to someone in your dorm who needs it or to a local Goodwill.

If you’re like me and have endless stacks of papers all over the place, separate them into two piles. The first pile will be stuff you could possibly need in the future—notes from math or chemistry that you might need at some point, fliers for tutoring hours, or anything that's somewhat related to your major. These can go into a folder and placed in a closet or accessible drawer. That way you won’t lose anything you’ll need in the future. The second pile is for old papers, such as fliers of past events like Welcome Week Football or the First-Year Halloween Party. If the date has gone by already, there’s no reason to keep it. This also includes notes from classes that have nothing to do with your major. I doubt a Nursing student will need archaeology notes any time for future schooling. You’ll be surprised by how much room you’ll have when you recycle all that paper.

Reorganize your desk

Depending on how hard you’ve been studying, your desk can range from a slight level of messiness to a full-on warzone. The key here is to focus on one area. Humans tend to focus on patterns, so if something is out of place, it will bug us. Find that thing that bugs you and start there. Throw away any small items of trash (candy wrappers, empty gum containers, etc.). If you received any cups or plastic sunglasses during first semester, move them off your desk. If you find you can’t part with something, just move it into a designated junk drawer—out of sight, out of mind. Clean out your binders by replacing old notes with clean sheets of paper. This will save you both space and money, and we college kids need all the help we can get. Rearrange items until you feel satisfied or it looks somewhat presentable. If you’re able to work at your desk without knocking anything over or looking for anything (for more than 15 minutes), then you’ve done a good job. Last step: Wipe off the surface with sanitizing wipes. It’s a new semester; you don’t want to start it off with a cold.

Set a day to tidy up each week

You’ve made your mother proud by cleaning up your room; you get a small pat on the back. Now you just have to keep it this way. No need to worry—it’s easier than you think. All you have to do is figure out a day each week to tidy it up. Cleaning is just like studying: If you wait until the last minute, you’ll have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time. However, if you do it slowly over time, it won’t be as bad. Even just taking out the trash every week and putting books back in their place at the end of the day can save you hours of cleaning when Mom and Dad come to visit. It may not seem like much, but your future self will thank you.

Related: Dorm Etiquette: 7 Simple Ways to Be a Considerate Resident

Decluttering your room can seem like a daunting task. But with these tips, you’ll be able to sit in your room and be comfortable while still getting your work done. Just be sure to make it last!

Learn more about dorm living with the articles and advice in our Student Life section. And if you're still looking for your best-fit school, check out these Colleges and Universities With the Cleanest Campuses—they'll inspire you to stay tidy!

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About Melanie Moore

Ever since the summer of her junior year, Melanie Moore has looked for any and all outlets about college. YouTube videos, Pinterest pins, Buzzfeed, and even college chat rooms—if it talks about college life in any way, shape, or form, she's probably seen it. That's why she's coming to CollegeXpress: to share her not-so-limited knowledge about roommates, food, and admission. She spent nearly a year and a half finding all this information—so she might as well put it to use!

 

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