How to Intensely Clean a Dorm Room

One messy and one neat college dorm rooms
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Living on your own in a dorm room can be a rude awakening if you've never been in charge of all of your cleaning before. That tiny space will manage to get a lot dirtier than you may have expected. Occasionally, your dorm room may need a thorough cleaning to be ready for company or to be livable. Here's how to do it in one to two hours.

How to Clean Your Dorm Room

  1. Make your bed. You may think that college is the perfect time to forget about your parent’s admonition to make your bed. Think again. A made bed makes a huge difference in the appearance of a dorm room. In tight spaces, a bed is the focal point of the room and may double as a couch and study space. Make sure your bedding is simple, and make your bed daily.
  2. File your papers. There is a lot of paperwork associated with going to college. Besides schoolwork, you may have receipts, warranty information, phone numbers, class schedules, etc. Create a filing system and maintain it weekly by filing important papers in the right file folders. Make extra copies of each of your course syllabi and file them. Setting up a filing system will make even more sense when it’s time to study for a final or you need to return the new microwave that died.
  3. Wash the dishes. Chances are you don’t have dirty dishes that often, but make it a point to wash dishes in a timely fashion to prevent unwanted science projects. Keep all your cleaning supplies together and create a dishwashing caddy with your dish soap, cloths, and sponges. Dishwashing pans are helpful if you can't wash dishes in your room.
  4. Wipe down counters and appliances. Wipe down all of your countertops, the inside and outside of your microwave and refrigerator, as well as any other appliances. Take a few moments to throw out any expired food or leftovers from the refrigerator. As you wipe down surfaces with an all-purpose cleaner, pick up any loose trash and toss it away.
  5. Dust. Dust particularly attracts itself to electronics, so be sure to dust down computers, stereos, and televisions. You will also need to periodically dust down ceiling corners and walls to remove cobwebs. Pictures in frames and windowsills may also need to be dusted occasionally. Don't forget to dust air vents, the tops of door frames, and switchplates.
  6. Sweep/vacuum/mop. For carpeted rooms, it is important to vacuum the carpet regularly. If you don’t have your vacuum, the dorm floor or Resident Desk may have one available for check out. Protect your carpet or floors by having two mats: one outside and one inside the door. Use this time to spot treat any carpet stains. For hard surface floors, sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping will be sufficient to keep the floors clean. If you have area rugs, shake them out and treat any stains.
  7. Organize your desk. A desk is a college student's most valuable tool for academic success. Even the most gifted students will need to use their desks to graduate. Now that your papers are filed, take the time to clean off and organize your desk. Remove all trash. Replace items that need to be put away. Arrange your office supplies and note any replacements that need to be bought.
  8. Clean the bathroom. If you have your bathroom or share one with a limited group of people, you may be responsible for cleaning it yourself. Depending on the dirt, you can get away with a 15-minute cleanup or intense one. Don't forget to thoroughly clean the toilet and sink.
  9. Take care of the trash and details. Take out the trash. Spray air freshener in the room. If you've borrowed any cleaning supplies, return those promptly. If it's time to do laundry, now could be a good time to make a laundry run. Be sure to take some study materials with you.


  1. A cleaning caddy is a really useful tool to keep all of your cleaning supplies organized. You can find an inexpensive one at most dollar stores.
  2. If you use cleaning rags or sponges, these will need to be rinsed out, and/or washed and dried. If you leave them in a heap they will start to grow bacteria and smell awful.
  3. Make the time pass more quickly by putting on some music while you clean or listen to a recorded lecture to help you study.

Dorm Cleaning Supplies

  • Filing system
  • Dishwashing supplies
  • All-purpose cleaner or other cleaning solutions
  • Cleaning tags or paper towels
  • Dusters
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Mop and mop bucket
  • Bathroom cleaning supplies