Quick n’ dirty tips for cleaning out your dorm

Study rooms in Northwest turned into double and triple dorm rooms.  (Olivia Stenger/The Daily Campus)

Study rooms in Northwest turned into double and triple dorm rooms.  (Olivia Stenger/The Daily Campus)

Finals, last minute projects, parties, quizzes, formals…. In the midst of the last few weeks of the semester move-out day arrives like a bolt of lightning. Frantically, you glance around your messy room: there are notebooks on the floor, socks on the window sill, old coffee mugs clogging up your dresser and the five million free pens gathered from various student organizations scattered everywhere. Where do you start?

Never fear. We’ve all been in that spot at one point, and hopefully it’ll all become a distant, terrible memory once you finally get a (permanent) residence of your own. But for now, rest assured that it doesn't have to be a massive hassle, thanks to these tips to get your dorm (and maybe even your life) in order.

1) Boxes and duct tape

If you had foresight at the start of the year, then you saved all the boxes from your various packages and kept them collapsed and stored away for future use. With a quick strip of duct tape, you have a fully functional box to store your stuff in. If you didn’t save any, then go out and look! Ask local stores, such as Price Chopper, if they have any leftover boxes. Check the trash cans near mailing rooms, since people open their packages and toss the cardboard right there. You can even check the Amazon store in Storrs Center, since they offer free boxes for returns.

2) Divide and Prioritize

When you’re an in-state student and live relatively near, it’s easy to pack up everything and load it in the family car. If you flew all the way from, say, California, high shipping charges may make you want to think twice. So, take a look at all of your accumulated stuff. What can't you live without? What can you afford to buy again next year? Figure out how to minimize your bulk and maximize your space efficiency. Make a list-- it helps!

3) Start small

First, clean up all the loose stuff around your dorm, and put it where it belongs. Then, empty out your drawers. Throw out or recycle all the old papers, quizzes and other flotsam that you won’t need, and keep the notes you’ll want to review for next year’s classes. If you’re a tidy note-taker, some people will actually buy your notebooks for certain classes, so keep this in mind! Store all of your loose stuff in small boxes. Little things like pencils, flash drives and art supplies can be stored in ziploc bags.

4) Don’t toss-- be generous!

The huge piles of trash, broken mirrors and even old furniture in the dumpsters after move-out bug me to no end. Not only does it rack up environmental waste, but a lot of the things that people throw away are still perfectly usable. So when you’re clearing out your dorm, take time to put aside some gently used stuff that you can donate. Old books, furniture and mirrors can be given to Goodwill. Clothes can be donated to a homeless shelter or even sold at a consignment store.

5) Fold your clothes nicely!

You’d be surprised how much space you can save by folding and consolidating your clothes. Try and do laundry before you leave; if you can’t, then still fold your (gross) dirty laundry for your poor mother to do once you get home. It doesn’t hurt to make a quick trip home (if you can) and grab some suitcases.

6) Label EVERYTHING

You future self will thank you! Label all of your boxes and totes that you plan on storing and opening up next year. There’s nothing worse than forgetting where you put everything over the break and then turning your attic upside down the week before move-in.

7) Clean your fridge and microwave

There’s nothing like a nice case of mildew or mold to greet you after a nice long summer off. Prevent this and make sure to give your food appliances a through clean-out. Wipe away any excess moisture, old food splats or residue left over. Disinfect everything, and absorb old smells with a bowl of baking soda left inside your fridge overnight.

8) Do a thorough sweep

I mean this in two ways. Firstly, make sure to give the place a good sweep once you’ve cleared everything out. Vacuum the carpet before you roll it up. Make sure to get the corners as you dust it out. Move your bed and your desk, and chase away any stray dust bunnies/lint balls/small woodland creatures that may have accumulated in your formerly-disastrous room. Then, go through your side of the dorm for anything you left behind. Check the drawers, the windowsill (in case you forgot a plant) the dresser, your closet and under your mattress. Leave nothing unturned!

Hopefully with these tips you can both avoid stress and a cleaning fee for this year’s move-out. It sucks, but it’s a small price to pay for the unique experience that is dorm life. Good luck!


Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.