How to Clean a Dorm Room in Under 20 Minutes

College dorm room
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Your parents may be coming over, your partner may be stopping by, or you simply may want to pick up your room in order to have more space to work or study. Sometimes, however, even the smallest area can seem to contain a humongous mess. Just how can you clean your dorm room quickly and effectively?

Fortunately for you, you're in college because you're smart. So take that educated brain of yours and put it to work!

Put Clothes Away

First things first: Put clothes and large items where they belong. If you have clothes on your bed, a jacket on the back of your chair, a blanket spilling onto the floor, and a scarf or two hanging off the lamp, your room can look incredibly messy. Spend a few minutes picking up clothes and large items and putting them where they should be (closet, hamper, hook on the back of the door). And if you don't have an assigned place for the large items in your room, make one; that way, in the future, you can simply put it there, to begin with and have one less thing making your room look messy. (Five-minute cheater fix: Throw everything in the closet.)

Make Your Bed

Sure, you don't live at home anymore, but making your bed will instantly transform your room from slovenly to stellar. It's amazing the way a clean bed can improve the look of a room. Make sure to make it nicely, too; it only takes a few extra seconds to smooth out the sheets, straighten the pillows, and make sure the comforter is evenly covering the whole bed (i.e, not touching the ground on one side and barely covering the mattress on the other). If one side of your bed is touching a wall, spend the extra 10 seconds to push the blankets down between the wall and the mattress so that the top surface still looks smooth. (Five-minute cheater fix: Don't smooth anything down or worry about the pillows; just fix the comforter or top blanket.)

Put Other Things Away

Put things away whenever possible. If you have a bunch of pens out on your desk and shoes collecting by the door, for example, get them out of sight. Put the pens in a little cup or a desk drawer; put your shoes back in your closet. Take a moment to stand still and look at what is still left out after you've made the bed and put the big things away. What can go into drawers? What can go into a closet? What can slide under your bed? (Five-minute cheater fix: Throw things into the closet or drawers and deal with them later.)

Deal With Trash

Fill up the trash. The key to emptying your trash is to fill it up first. Grab your trash can (or pull one from down the hallway to the front of your door) and walk around your room. Start in one corner and go in a spiral around the room, ending up in the center. What can be tossed? What don't you need? Be ruthless, too: That pen that only kinda works only some of the time needs to go, for example. You just might surprise yourself by seeing how much you can throw away in a few minutes -- and how much doing so will improve the look of your room. Once you've put things in your room trash can, take 30 seconds to empty it into a larger trash can down the hall or in the bathroom. (Five-minute cheater fix: There isn't one. Trash is trash and should be tossed pronto.)

Tidy Up

Tidy up the small things that are left. Close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath (yes, even though you're in a hurry), and then open them again. Repeat the spiral you did with the trash can, this time organizing things as you move along. That pile of papers on your desk? Make the edges of it a little neater; you don't have time to go through it, but you can make it look a little tidier. Line up books so their edges are even. Close your laptop, straighten up pictures and other decorations, and make sure nothing is sticking out from under your bed. (Five-minute fix: Make sure things are relatively organized and try to put things at right angles or parallel to each other. Turn things with labels facing forward.)

Take a Fresh Look

Exit and re-enter your room as if you were a guest. Take a step out of your room, walk away for 10 seconds, and then re-enter your room as if you were a guest. Do the lights need to be turned on? The window opened? Room freshener sprayed? Chairs cleaned off so there's somewhere to sit? Walking into your room like you're doing so for the first time is a great way to notice any small details that might still need to be taken care of. (Five-minute fix: Spray your room with a room freshener. After all, when's the last time someone's room smelled too good? Assume a little spritz will help and do it automatically.)


Last but not least: Take a deep breath! After zipping around trying to clean and pick up your room, you'll want to spend a moment calming down. Get a glass of water or something else to refresh yourself so that your visitors see not only a great-looking room but also a calm, collected friend or family member casually relaxing inside of it!

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Your Citation
Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How to Clean a Dorm Room in Under 20 Minutes." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Lucier, Kelci Lynn. (2021, February 16). How to Clean a Dorm Room in Under 20 Minutes. Retrieved from Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How to Clean a Dorm Room in Under 20 Minutes." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 26, 2023).