BY ANA CASTRO
The books covering the desk, while the nightstand is starting to get buried by piles of crusty pizza boxes and Chinese takeout containers. The pyramid of used-but-still-usable clothes kept on the chair has become the envy of the Egyptian pyramids. The trashcan has already been overflowing for weeks, and has now reached the point where it could be easily featured on the top of one of those “college trash Jenga” memes collections on the net. The air in the dorm is getting so musty and dust-laden that you could literally cut it with a knife.
Does this sound familiar to you? There is no denying that a messy environment can have a negative impact on one’s state of mind. However, especially during college years, it can be highly challenging to keep your room clean. It doesn’t matter if you are a freshman or a senior, it’s easy to get caught up in a vortex of lectures, classwork, extracurricular activities, and unforgettable parties.
Before you give up and let yourself sink into a sea of rancid leftovers and smelly workout clothes, take a look at these 5 easy tips to keep your dorm room tidy without endless cleaning sessions:
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed
It’s a fact: A messy bed makes a room look messy — even after spending an hour cleaning everything else in the dorm.
You have probably already heard the saying: “Tidy desk, Tidy mind’. This rings true; after all, if your mind and thoughts are organized, why would you let your dorm room become so messy?
Moreover, science also says that making your bed can make you successful. Socio-economist Randall Bell has been studying success for 25 years, analyzing the core characteristics that all great achievers have in common. He found out that those who make their bed in the morning are up to 206.8 percent more likely to be millionaires.
So, each morning, when you wake up, just pull back the duvet cover and open the window to air out the bed and release moisture and humidity. Go ahead and complete your morning routine. After you are done and right before leaving: Simply pull the covers up, fluff the pillows and that’s it!
Making your bed literally takes three minutes but you’ll be amazed at how great the dorm will instantaneously look.
No clothes on the floor
Nothing makes a room look more cramped than clothing lying on the floor. Changing this habit just takes a few seconds, but it will definitely pay off, especially when it comes time to vacuuming the dorm.
- Save 5 minutes every morning by picking out your outfit the night before. This way, there won’t be any mess on the floor from constantly changing your mind – and your clothes – while being in a hurry to make it to your 9 a.m. lecture.
- Use a hamper or bag to collect your dirty laundry. At the end of the day, it takes just as much time to throw your clothes in the basket as it does to toss them on the floor. It will not only keep your dorm less messy, but will also make laundry day easier, as you will be able to spare yourself the guesswork on deciding whether or not a shirt is clean.
Now, what should you do with all those used-but-still-usable clothes that are dangerously piling up on the chair? You can simply use clothes hanging wall mounts inside your wardrobe door or put a clothes tree in the corner of the room instead. Are you too tired when getting undressed? Just get an additional laundry basket, or a sack, and use it for the worn-but-still-good cloths. You can just dump clothing in it instead of keeping everything on your chair.
The less you have, the less you have to keep organized
Dorm rooms are known especially for being rather tiny, and cluttered spaces especially stand out in small living areas.
There is a simple rule that you should keep in mind on your way towards a neat dorm room: If you take something out, remember to put it back where it belongs once you are done.
If you want to go a step further, take the time to clear out all unnecessary junk from your room every half year. Go through your closet, desk, and drawers; remove all the clothes and other stuff that seem to be in the wrong place, or that you haven’t used for ages.
Collect them on the bed and ask yourself: Did I use this for the last half year? How often did I use it? Is it in good condition? If I was shopping right now, would I buy this again? Could something else I own do exactly the same job?
The most important thing is to be honest with yourself. For example, if you can go 6 months without using something, there’s a pretty good chance that you are not going to need it ever again so you can either donate it, throw it away or sell it.
If you want to sell your old unused stuff in no time, try online classifieds apps like Locanto. It uses image recognition technology that automatically generate a title and set the category for your listings. So all you have to do is snap a quick picture of what you’re selling and your ads will be online within seconds.
In case you decide to keep something even though you don’t use it every day, make sure that you store it in a proper place, so that your dorm room won’t look messy. Under-the-bed storage solutions and economic decorative storage boxes are always a good alternative.
Throw things out regularly
Eating in your dorm room typically means that you will end up with a collection of takeaway boxes, spilled drink, food crumbs, and more. For this reason, you should stick to some golden rules: Food containers and leftover food should be taken to the dumpster within the same day, while spilled drink should be cleaned up immediately. Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself with new unwanted roommates, such as ants, flies, or other bugs.
Additionally, you shouldn’t wait until the trash is overflowing – and seems to have a life of its own – to take it out. This is definitely not a healthy habit, especially in small living spaces, like dorm rooms, where sleeping and working areas are dangerously close to the trash basket.
Finally, take the time to throw small things out that you would otherwise leave lying around your desk, nightstands, or furniture surfaces. This way your room will always be impeccable and trash free.
The harder part: Roommates
You are probably not the only keeper of the dorm room. For this reason, you should share your cleaning routine and expectations with your roommate from the first day on. Through this, you will be able to avoid any unnecessary confrontation later on.
However, if you have encountered a difficult roommate that doesn’t share your cleaning habits, you should talk to him/her as soon as the problem occurs. In such cases, the way you confront the issue will make the difference.
- First, stay calm and simply point out your perspective, make sure to emphasize that a clean room is vital for you; be specific about the habits that bother you, and explain why they bother you. Moreover, try to look for a compromise and see if there’s a middle ground that you both can agree on.
- Second, remember, the part of the dorm room that belongs to your roommate is beyond your scope. You cannot change or control what’s happening on the other side of the imaginary dividing line. But you can focus on changing those habits that affect the entire living area. Agree on a couple of golden basic cohabitation rules.
- Finally, suggest the possibility of dividing up the unwanted chores, like emptying the trash can, dusting, or vacuuming. Involve the person in setting up a cleaning schedule to rotate tasks; be flexible about trading chores if there’s something you don’t mind doing, but your roommate really hates.
Implementing these small tips to your daily routine requires determination, but they will definitely help you towards creating a clean, neat, and inviting dorm room. Be constant and remember: It takes 21-28 days to form a habit; it will seem like you have never done anything else only a little effort will be needed to sustain it.
Ana Castro is a young team leader and a communications manager for Yalwa, a thriving internet company based in Germany. She loves sharing her insights and experience to help her readers find personal and professional fulfillment.