How to Give a Dorm Room a Deep Cleaning

One messy and one clean dorm room

James Woodson/ Digital Vision/ Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 2 - 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-10

Your dorm room, the slightly more grown-up version of your room at home. It's beginning to smell and you can't find anything. You're on your own with no parent to nag about the condition or supervise the clean-up. So, where do you begin?

With just a bit of planning, some basic cleaning supplies, and a few instructions, you can clean a dorm room in an hour or less—okay, three hours at the most if you haven't done laundry all semester.

How Often to Deep Clean a Dorm Room

There are three times each term that a dorm room should always be deep cleaned:

  • Before you bring in your stuff
  • After someone is ill
  • Before you go home for break or after you move out for the year

This isn't saying that you only have to clean three times a year. There are daily and weekly chores that should be done to keep the room clean, hygienic, and pest-free (except for that troublemaker down the hall).

Tip

These same cleaning guidelines will apply to your first apartment and might just help you get your deposit back when you move out.

Before You Begin

If you share the room with a roommate or the bathroom with another room, discuss how to divide the cleaning responsibilities. You can take turns each week, split the chores, or learn to live with an acceptable amount of mess.

Very few schools provide cleaning supplies so plan to bring or purchase your own. While you can buy "college cleaning kits," you'll save money by purchasing just what you need for the surfaces in your room.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Small vacuum or broom and dustpan
  • Mop with disposable dry and wet pads
  • Plastic dishpan
  • Toilet brush
  • Laundry bag or hamper
  • Trash can
  • Microfiber towels and cleaning cloths
  • Cleaning caddy (optional)

Materials

  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Multi-surface, all-purpose cleaner
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Dish sponge
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Laundry stain remover
  • Trash bags

Instructions

How to Deep Clean a Dorm Room Before Moving In

Even though the custodial staff will have cleaned the dorm room after the last student moved out, there are a few things you should do before bringing in your stuff. As a courtesy to the staff, follow the same steps after you've removed your belongings.

  1. Disinfect Surfaces

    Use a disinfectant wipe to clean surfaces that are touched frequently—light switches, door handles, desk tops, and drawer pulls. If you have a private bathroom, wipe down countertops and toilet seats.

  2. Freshen Surfaces

    Use a microfiber cloth and an all-purpose cleaner to wipe down the furniture, window sills, and light fixtures. If you see dust and smudges on walls or doors, clean them as well.

  3. Clean the Floors

    Lastly, use a wet or dry mop or vacuum to capture dust and dirt that may have fallen onto the floors. Don't forget the baseboards!

How to Deep Clean an Occupied Dorm Room

  1. Gather Dirty Laundry

    Start by gathering up any dirty laundry from the floor, bed, bathroom, or hamper. Don't forget your towels and sheets. Head to the laundry room and get one or more loads started. You clean your room while the washer and dryer are doing their jobs.

  2. Make the Bed

    Making the bed instantly makes a room look neater and you may find that lost book you've been looking for.

  3. Grab Two Trash Bags

    Start at one corner of the room and move clockwise with two trash bags in your hand—one for trash and one for recyclables. Gather food wrappers, expired food, cans, bottles, unneeded papers, and broken items. Take the bags immediately to the dorm waste disposal area.

  4. Gather and Wash the Dishes

    If you have dishes, utensils, or cooking equipment in the room, gather them up. Fill a dishpan with hot water and some dishwashing liquid. Put the dishes in the pan and let them soak for a few minutes then wash, rinse, and dry them.

    Clean the interior of the microwave, mini-fridge, and coffeepot.

  5. Organize Clutter

    Take a few minutes to put items back where they belong. If you have books and papers scattered everywhere, move them to the desk. Put away clothing that can be worn again without washing.

  6. Dust Surfaces

    Use a damp microfiber cloth to remove dust from the furniture, light fixtures, and window sills.

  7. Clean and Disinfect Surfaces

    Now that the dust is removed, use a disinfecting wipe or an all-purpose cleaner to clean any surfaces that are dirty or covered with fingerprints and smudges.

    If you have a private bathroom, clean and disinfect the sink, mirror, toilet, and shower.

  8. Clean the Floor

    Use a vacuum or mop to clean the floor and capture all of the dust and dirt that has fallen during your cleaning spree.

Tips to Keep Your Dorm Room Clean Longer

  • Place uneaten food, cans, and trash in the trashcan daily and empty the can frequently.
  • Wash dishes after every use.
  • Make your bed every day.
  • Use a disinfectant wipe to clean frequently touched areas every day.
  • Don't allow dirty laundry to accumulate for too long.
  • Wipe down the sink and shower after each use with a microfiber cloth.
  • Dust, vacuum, or sweep the floor and clean the bathroom (toilet, sink, shower) weekly.