How to Keep Your Dorm Room Clean (Without Annoying Your Roommate)

Problem: The Smell

Two of the biggest problems most dorm dwellers deal with are clutter and odors.

Let's assume, for the time being, you are your dorm room's only keeper. This probably means your room is even smaller than 230 square feet, but it also simplifies things tremendously.

Standard cleaning tasks don't change. To keep your space clean, vacuum and dust every one or two weeks. Clean up spills immediately. Wash your linens once a week. If you have a microwave and mini-fridge, wipe them down with disinfecting cloths regularly, and dump old food from the fridge as soon as you know you won't be eating it.

Here's where tasks start to change: Unless you want your room to smell like whatever you won't be eating, don't throw that food into your little trash can.

Smells can quickly become overwhelming in a small space. To avoid this pitfall, you likely need to alter your habits a little:

  • Take your old food right to the dumpster. If you're on the fourth floor, it's good exercise.
  • Don't just empty your trash can. Wipe it down with a disinfectant, too. Or better yet, always use a plastic bag as a liner so trash doesn't touch the can. Then you only need to wipe it down when something leaks.
  • Keep sweaty or wet clothing and linens separate from regular laundry, preferably in a bag you can tie or seal in some way (a trash bag is good), and clean that stuff as soon as you have enough to justify a wash on the "small load" setting.
  • If you smoke, smoke outside. Same goes for any smoking friends.
  • When weather permits, open a window to air out the room. This is especially helpful when it's sunny, since sunlight is a natural disinfectant – any rugs or bedding you can hang out the window for an hour would benefit greatly [source: Wieman].

If the room still smells after all that, or you just can't drag yourself outside for that cigarette, try an air freshener or deodorizing spray. Not everyone likes the scent of these products, but they probably smell better than nicotine and sweat.

Now, onto the clutter.