Back-to-school shopping takes on a whole new dimension for college students moving into a new dorm room. What’s the best way to squeeze all the necessities of life into a small space they’ll likely be sharing with another student? Here are eight dorm room hacks to help make dorm life as organized and stress-free as possible.
Make a List
Thinking through everything your college student will need to take to school with him or her can be daunting, especially if left to the last minute. To be sure you don’t forget anything, make a list of everything they’d like to take from home and another list of all the things they’ll need to purchase. Dorm rooms typically have a bed with a mattress, desk, and chair. Everything else is up to you.
A Space to Study
Most dorms have space-saving bed designs in which the mattress can be elevated bunk style and a desk can be placed underneath. Most campuses have computer labs, too, but a personal laptop or tablet is a must-have for every student these days. A small shelf and containers for books and school supplies can help keep desk spaces tidy, and a “charging station” is a great way keep electronic devices in one place while minimizing clutter and keeping them powered up. Noise-cancelling headphones can also help cut out sounds from roommates while your student is trying to study.
Walls and Doors
Sure, dorm walls and doors are for hanging posters. Removable hooks can provide valuable additional storage space for hats and jackets. You can also hang cork boards to display photos or mementos. Be sure to check the school’s policy for damage done to walls. If nails are not permitted, use removable adhesive tape.
Everything but the Kitchen Sink
To make mealtimes easier, most dorms allow students to bring small appliances such as mini fridges, microwaves, and coffee machines, which makes preparing a frozen dinner or a box of mac & cheese as easy as 1-2-3. Mini fridges can be tucked away in a corner, and a small microwave can often be placed on top of the fridge. Another option is to purchase a small, inexpensive microwave stand that can be used to store other kitchen items and food. A dresser or desk drawer can be used as a “pantry” for dry goods and kitchenware, since your student is likely limited on space.
This is often the most challenging area of any dorm room — especially when your student is sharing his or her closet space with a roommate. The key is to think vertically. Use plastic boxes to store and stack things on the bottom of the closet. A clothes rod doubler adds twice the hanging space, and hanging sweater or shoe organizers can also be used to store a variety of things like socks and underwear. Over-the-door organizers can be placed on closet doors for even more storage.
Sharing a bathroom is part of dorm life, but towels and personal hygiene items can cause major clutter in a small space. Over-the-door hooks are an inexpensive solution for keeping towels and clothes off the bathroom floor, and a shower caddy is a must for storing and carting around personal items like shampoo, soap, razors, and toothbrushes.
Most dorms don’t have a cleaning service, so basic cleaning supplies are an in-room must. The dollar store can be a great place to find things like disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, microfiber cloths, and laundry detergent. A mesh pop-and-fold laundry basket is easy to store —and lug up and down stairs to and from the laundry room. A mini broom and dustpan or a mini cordless vacuum can be handy for cleaning up crumbs and dust. Plus, everything can be stored in a plastic bin or caddy and easily tucked away.
In Case of Emergency
A small plastic box can be filled with first-aid items such adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, anti-itch cream, cold medicine, and pain reliever. It’s also useful to fill a plastic bin with emergency supplies like a flashlight, a small tool kit, and extra batteries.