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Keeping Your Space Tidy in College

Written by: Chloe (she/her)

2 min read | Published: June 20, 2024

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Staying on top of cleaning comes with the benefit of returning to a clean dorm or room after a long day. Having an organized space to do homework can drastically improve focus, which is essential for success in college and beyond. That said, it can be hard to keep tidy when living in a smaller space like a shared house or dorm. College is a busy time, and cramming your entire life in a single room naturally creates clutter. Sometimes your space is just going to get messy, especially if you aren’t used to living independently, where cleanliness depends on your own upkeep. Finding what cleaning routine works for you is a lot of trial and error, but you will be building skills you’ll need for the rest of your life.

Removing Clutter

It’s a common mistake to bring too much stuff with you to college. If you live near your dorm or apartment, you can always send extra items home. But for out-of-state and international students, packing light is essential. Ask yourself if you really need this item and are going to use it every day. I brought a small TV to my dorm my freshman year and only used it once.

You can also swap out items seasonally, like winter coats and shorts. For over the summer, secondary storage like a storage unit or a friend’s house could be helpful for larger items you have acquired that you can’t take home. If you’re someone who likes bringing a lot of items, start researching creative storage and shelving options.

Cleaning Routines

When you first move in or come back from breaks, do a deep clean. A deep clean is where you pay attention to thoroughly cleaning areas that typically get overlooked. This could mean dusting areas you normally don’t or scrubbing your floors instead of just sweeping. If you have a clean start prior to moving in, maintaining that level of cleanliness will be much easier, instead of trying to work around furniture and busy schedules.

Finding the time to clean during the semester could involve two strategies: cleaning as you go to avoid making a mess in the first place or deciding on a “reset day” where you clean up everything. Even with cleaning as you go, you might have to have designated cleaning days for infrequent chores like mopping the floor, dusting or cleaning the shower.

Share chores if you live with others. You may be OK with a certain level of messiness, but it’s important to consider the well-being of your roommates. Having open communication about expectations and responsibilities is a great way to avoid conflict. Cleaning is a skill you constantly develop throughout life, and there’s no one way to do it, but the sooner you learn, the better off you will be.


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