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The Complete Guide To Keeping Your
Dorm Room Clean and Tidy

December 14, 2021

Let’s face it—dorm rooms aren’t known for their cleanliness or sanitary living conditions, and what’s worse, they can be tiny spaces. The average college dorm room is only about 228 square feet, so if you have a roommate, you each have approximately 114 square feet of living space. That doesn’t sound like a lot to clean, but keep in mind that small spaces are also easier to get dirty. Learning how to clean your dorm room the right way minimizes germs, helps you breathe easier, and a clean dorm room can even be good for your mental health.

If you’re new to dorm life, you may be surprised at how quickly dirt, grime, and clutter can accumulate. And the longer you wait to clean up, the harder it will be. Instead of waiting until your dorm room turns into a disaster area, learn how to clean a dorm room and keep it that way. Using this handy guide and committing to a dorm room cleaning schedule, your room will feel like a home again.

How to Clean a Dorm Room

How you clean your dorm room and how much work it takes depends on whether you’re moving in, moving out, or if it’s finals week and your room is filthy. We’ll start with what to do before you settle in, detail how to get a dorm room back in shape, and then finish up with an end-of-semester cleaning.

How to Clean Your Dorm Room Before You Move In

While many college maintenance departments clean and sanitize dorm rooms before someone moves in, it’s still a good idea to spruce things up before you start unpacking. Even if the room was cleaned recently, dust and dirt could still find their way onto floors and other surfaces, and you can never be sure how sanitary it is. Take advantage of the empty space and give it a once over for a fresh start in your new space.

  • Disinfect frequently touched things like door handles, drawer pulls, and switchplates with a natural disinfectant like rubbing alcohol or distilled white vinegar. White vinegar is a natural and inexpensive disinfectant, cleaner, and more, so keep a bottle handy for your next cleanup.
  • Wipe down light fixtures, surfaces, and walls with a safe and natural all-purpose cleaner.
  • Sweep, vacuum, or mop floors and clean the corners and baseboards while you’re at it.

Now you can unpack and settle into your fresh, clean dorm room. Next up is how to give your dorm room a deep clean after things get out of hand (and it’ll probably be sooner than you may think!)

How to Clean a Wrecked Dorm Room

Before you know it, your dorm room can become a chaotic mess of dirty clothes, dishes, and who knows what else. That means plenty of opportunities for offensive odors, menacing mold, and bad-for-you bacteria to move in and make your dorm room a pretty nasty place. If this happens to you, here’s how to get it back in shape and liveable again.

Make the Bed

Your parents probably gave you a talk on the importance of making your bed each day. While they may have insisted on you making your bed so they didn’t have to, their advice makes sense for a variety of reasons. A nice, neat bed does a lot to make your whole dorm room look tidy (it takes up a lot of space), and making your bed every day could even change your life!

Sort Paperwork and Books

College means being on your own, so it’s up to you to keep track of your books, papers, schedules, and other essential things. Set up a system for filing your classwork, a place to keep your books, and a file for other important documents like receipts for appliances, school expenses, etc. Put everything where it belongs and make it a daily habit to keep everything in order.

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Wash Your Dishes

As small as a dorm room is, a single meal could wreck your kitchen area if you don’t tackle the dishes right away. Dishes piled up in a small room not only create clutter but can also produce unpleasant odors and create the perfect environment for mold and bacteria. Get all of your dishes and cookware clean, store them away, and make daily dishwashing a regular thing.

Clean Counters and Appliances

Put away clutter that has accumulated on your counters, then clean and sanitize the countertops. Clean and disinfect your microwave, coffee maker, refrigerator, and other appliances, then throw away outdated or unwanted food and snacks.

Dust Surfaces

Dust from the ceiling to the floor using a broom to get up high for any cobwebs. Work your way down and dust ledges, shelves, and other surfaces so the dust and dirt fall to the floor. Don’t forget your electronics. Dust not only makes smartphones, speakers, and laptops look dirty, it can also damage electronics.

Clean the Floor

If you have carpet, spot treat any stains, then vacuum it and use a crevice tool to get into the corners. To clean hard surface floors, remove any area rugs and sweep and mop. Shake the rugs outside to remove dirt and debris and put them back when the floor dries.

Clean the Bathroom

If you have a bathroom in your dorm room, consider it a privilege because most students share one with everyone in their hall! Your bathroom will be an even smaller space than the dorm room, so clutter can take over quickly. Remove anything that doesn’t belong and store what does belong on shelves, shower caddies, or in a cabinet. Pick up any dirty towels and clothes, then clean and disinfect your bathroom from top to bottom.

Do the Laundry

If you don’t keep your sheets, blankets, and clothes clean, you might as well skip learning about how to keep a dorm room clean. Don’t. Wash your bedding about every week and wash your clothes before they overflow the hamper to keep the clutter and odors to a minimum.

How to Clean a Dorm Room at the End of the Semester

Don’t rely on the campus maintenance staff to clean up your mess when you’re ready to head home at the end of the semester. After all, you’ll be coming back to your little home before you know it, and walking into a big mess is no way to get back into the swing of things. As long as you’ve somewhat kept your dorm room in shape, this should be all you need to do:

  • Clean the exterior and interior of your fridge, microwave, and coffee pot.
  • Wash out the trash cans and leave them to air dry.
  • Vacuum curtains, ledges, door and window frames, and under furniture.
  • Give the floor a quick pickup and start packing for your break.
  • Strip the bed and give your mattress a deep cleaning.

How Often Should I Clean My Dorm Room?

The technical answer is every day if you want to keep dirt, dust, germs, and odors under control. But the more realistic answer is as often as possible. How often you’ll need to break out your cleaning supplies depends on how clean and tidy you and your roommate are and how each of you feels about clutter, germs, and dirt.

Chances are, you won’t feel the same, so be prepared to strike a compromise. Better yet, instead of asking how often you should clean, be proactive and ask how you can keep it clean. The answer to that question is to follow this guide and use the college dorm cleaning checklist below.

College Dorm Cleaning Checklist

One step at a time, in bite-size pieces, piece by piece—however you describe it, the easiest way to tackle a big project, and a dirty dorm room, is to break it down into more manageable parts. Breaking your cleaning tasks into daily, weekly, and monthly chunks makes it easy to keep your dorm room in shape week after week.

Follow this dorm room cleaning schedule and divvy up the chores with your roommate to keep dirt, dust, and germs under control.


  • Make your bed
  • Pick up clutter from the floor
  • Wash dishes and put them away
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces


  • Vacuum, sweep, and mop
  • Do the laundry (including bedding)
  • Clean your microwave and other countertop appliances
  • Dust furniture and surfaces
  • Take out the trash


  • Clean windows and mirrors
  • Clean your fridge and throw out old food
  • Purge and organize desks and files

So how does The Maids know so much about how to clean a dorm room? Decades of experience, thousands of homes cleaned, and proven cleaning strategies—that’s how. If you don’t like to clean, maybe next year you’ll be in your own apartment, and you can just let us take care of the dirty work with our apartment cleaning services. Learn more about our cleaning services and affordable options for keeping your home away from home nice and clean.

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