18 Dorm Organization Tips Every College Student Should Know About

These dorm organization tips will transform your space and keep you organized all semester long.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you purchase through our links. Please read our full disclosure here.

Dorm organization tips every college student needs to know about

Today we’re sharing our ultimate guide to dorm organization.

College will teach you many life lessons, but the first one I learned my freshman year was this: dorm rooms are small. My first year at Flagler, I shared a dorm with three other girls and quickly learned how valuable every square inch of space could be.

I also discovered that the key to having more space is to be organized.

Now that my senior year has rolled around, I thought I’d share with you some of the best dorm organization tips out there, in order to help you to utilize those precious square inches and enjoy every bit of small-space living.

{RELATED POST: Our All-Time Favorite Room Organization Tips}

Here are my top dorm organization tips that every student needs to know, with some dorm organization items to make life easier.

Also, if you’re living off-campus, no worries, these will all work for you too!

Try a Multi-Functional Lamp with Storage

Since space is so limited in dorms, items that are multi-functional– like this desk organizer lamp— are ideal.

In addition to providing light, this cute one from Dormify also acts as a pencil cup and has a holder/hook-up for your phone!

Use a Bedside Caddy to Keep Your Bed Area Organized

Let’s be real — there isn’t room in many dorms for standard bedside tables. So in such a small space, it’s important to be creative.

A bedside caddy like this one from Dormify is the perfect alternative to a table. Just tuck this between your mattress and box spring and you’re good to go. It also has an extension cord holder, plus room for books, glasses, and water bottles to keep you organized.

Related reading: The Best & Cutest College Bedding for 2020

Get Yourself a Makeup Mirror That Does Double Duty

If you wear makeup or do any kind of skincare or grooming routine, you need a decent makeup mirror in your room. To save space and stay organized, get one that does double duty, like this mirror that provides storage for your jewelry below.

This dorm room organization tip is especially great if you have a few go-to jewelry pieces you want to keep on hand to throw on before class. Just keep them in your mirror and you won’t forget them as you get ready.

Invest in a Good Laundry Hamper (Ideally with Wheels)

Buy from Amazon.com

A laundry hamper is a must-have for any dorm room closet, and I featured two different styles above, both of which I highly recommend.

Pop-up hampers are ideal for tiny closets – the mesh material is flexible, so it can be squeezed into tight spaces.

I swear by the wheeled hampers, though. Sure, they take up a little more space, but not having to lug heavy clothes back and forth to the laundry room makes them worth it.

Convert to Slim-Line Hangers in Your Closet

Slim-line hangers will give you more space for clothes because the hangers are much thinner than normal ones (hence the name).

They’re also made out of a non-slip material, so your expensive top won’t slide off the hanger and end up crumpled on the floor like it could with plastic hangers.

Try Hanging Shelves to Change Your Closet Forever

Buy from Amazon.com

Running out of room in your dresser? Hanging shelves will give you more storage for your clothing.

They take up a small bit of space in your closet, but can hold tons of sweaters, jeans and other bulky items.

Invest in a Holder for Your Blow-Dryer

Every girl knows that you do not want to just throw a hot blow dryer in a drawer on its own (hello, fire hazard). But that means you end up just tossing it on the floor or your desk — not exactly an organized solution.

A holder for your blow dryer solves this problem. This sleek one from Yamazaki Home hooks on to a cabinet door or drawer front so your blow dryer has its own spot out of the way — so easy and convenient.

Try an Adjustable Shoe Rack to Perfectly Fit Your Closet

Shoe racks are ideal for dorms because they will keep all your footwear neatly organized in one place, so your shoes won’t be littered all over your closet floor.

Over-the-door versions are roomy and can hold lots of shoes, but not all dorm closets have doors. So, I chose a shoe rack that expands and contracts, so you can adjust it to your specific closet size. (This is one of my favorite dorm room organization tips — it’s almost like having a custom rack!)

Switch to an Accordion Folder for Your Papers

Buy from Amazon.com

If you retain one piece of advice from this post, I hope it’s this: invest in an accordion folder!

Seriously, buy a good one and use it to organize all your important papers (hard-copies of research papers, bills, etc.). That way, you’ll be able to easily find everything you need in one tidy folder.

Try Cute Bookends to Display Your Textbooks in Style

Bookends can be a fun way to show off your personal style and keep your textbooks in pristine condition so you can get top dollar when book buyback rolls around.

And how cute are these pineapple ones from Target?!

Get Your Desk Drawers in Order So Everything Will Be Easy to Find

Buy from Amazon.com

A drawer organizer will keep all your excess school supplies organized so you’ll never have to dig through a messy drawer to find staples ten minutes before your big paper is due (believe me, I’ve been there).

This genius drawer organizer actually has adjustable sections so it’s guaranteed to fit any office supplies you might have on hand. So smart!

Keep Your Tasks in Sight with a Wall To-Do List

Okay, so a dry erase to-do list isn’t exactly necessary, but it will keep your schedule organized.

Hang it near your desk, take a few minutes every Sunday to fill out your weekly schedule and you’ll never forget a deadline, event or a meeting with your advisor.

Get Desktop Drawers to Multiply Your Storage Space

Buy from Amazon.com

Desktop drawers are a perfect solution for cluttered desks and can store all of the items that always seem go missing like headphones, camera chargers and USB drives.

In addition, these pretty ones are affordable and will look great on your desk.

Utilize a Drawer Cart for Any Miscellaneous Storage

A drawer cart on wheels can hold all those items you’re not quite sure about storing: sheets, hair styling tools, and even food! Plus, since it has wheels, you can easily move it around and use it as a writing surface or nightstand.

I love this mirrored cart from Dormify – it would be such a glam and stylish addition to any dorm.

Add Storage to Your Standard-Issue Dorm Dresser with Stackable Drawers

Buy from Amazon.com

If you’ve run out of space in your dresser and closet, stackable drawers are the answer.

You can buy as many (or as few) as you want and you’ll have plenty of room for storing even the bulkiest of items.

Another perk: these drawers can easily slide under your bed, so they won’t take up any floor space.

Organize Absolutely Anything in a Storage Ottoman

A storage ottoman is a great multi-use item for dorms. You can store things in it and then pop the lid on to create instant seating for friends.

This blush one from Target is insanely cute — I’m obsessed. And if pink isn’t your fave, Target has tons of other affordable storage ottomans in stock.

Try an Over-the-Door Hook for Your Handbags

Although over-the-door hooks are usually designed for coats, I personally use mine for handbags. Multiple bags can be strung on each hook and the piece will still stay put, plus the bags won’t fall off.

This cool over the door organizer from UO even has a cute little shelf at the top to store even more essentials.

Replace a Jewelry Box with a Hanging Jewelry Roll for Your Closet

Buy from Amazon.com

A hanging jewelry roll takes up less space than a jewelry box and will keep your necklaces tangle-free. It can also easily be rolled up and thrown into a duffel for impromptu weekend trips.

What do you think of these dorm organization tips?

For more tips on getting organized, see our guide to our favorite college organization tips.

Are you going to be living in the dorms this year? What do you think of these organizers? Upperclassmen, any storage advice for new college students? If you have any questions, ask away– I’ll do my best to answer. Also, remember to leave a comment with your thoughts on the article!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2010; it was completely updated and revamped in 2020 with new photos and information.

30 thoughts on “18 Dorm Organization Tips Every College Student Should Know About”

  1. Thanks for this! Really helped me put together my back-to-school shopping list. In regards to the helpfulness of accordian folders: I definitely agree! Great place to keep receipts and mail.

    Reply
  2. I love this! I was actually just getting ready to post the same kind of thing on my blog!! After seeing all of these, I’ve realized that I am such a college student, because I have just about everything you have listed for my dorm! =) At least I’m organized…=) Thanks for the great posts!

    Reply
  3. I absolutely loved this post! I’m an incoming freshman, and I’ve always been organized, although I was not sure on how to approach organizing my dorm. Your tips were helpful, and these are definitely the type of items that I have purchased or will soon. This post definitely relieved me in the sense that I know that it is in fact possible to have both a chic and well organized dorm room.

    Reply
  4. For freshmen attending college far from home (or for those who have huge wardrobes!), I think it’s a great idea to use Space Bags or any other other sort of vacuum bag for quickly storing and transporting your clothes and bedding. My mom suggested using them my freshman year and it made all the difference! They make bringing bulky stuff especially easy. Sure, you do need to have access to a vacuum with a hose if you want to pack up your winter clothing, bedding, etc. but I just asked housekeeping for a vac and I got one! They come in a variety of sizes, too–the carry-on size is PERFECT for using every last bit of space in your luggage when flying home.

    Reply
  5. I don’t know what i’d do without my hanging shelves last year.
    I was in a “forced triple” -three girls in a space barely big enough for two!
    We were each given a standing wardrobe that was 4’x6′ and 4 drawers.
    i had a set of shelves for my jeans, which i loved because i could fold them and store them in the little cubbies (it looked like a store display!). I also used a smaller set of hanging shelves for my shoes: perfect! I still had room in my wardrobe for my “hangables”!

    I also have one tip for freshman: Have a place for everything, and everything in it’s place! It’s too tempting to walk in, throw down your keys and bag, leave your jacket on the chair, your shoes under your desk, etc. Don’t do it!!!! It’s so much easier to hang up things and put stuff where it belongs. It’s much less stressful to know where things are, and you can walk across your floor at 1am and not stab your foot with a high heel or trip on a tote bag strap! =)

    Reply
  6. Excellent post. I must remember to keep an eye out for one of those closet door shoe bags, they’re the perfect solution to my space problem and I never thought of it.

    Reply
  7. Oh!!! Organization!!! (why does that send shivers of joy up my spine??lol!)

    These are all grrrreat ideas, thank you! I also want to add that you may find it useful to buy hangers all the same color for your closet, or all one color for shirts, another color for jackets, ect…
    It really adds a visual appeal and makes it super easy to keep your hanging clothes in order and give you an instant inventory of your clothes at the same time.

    Reply
  8. Great post…. As college students, we have to try to think of creative ways common storage items can be used. Here are a few – Since many students loft their bed, we often use an “over-the-door” shoe organizer under a lofted bed for storage. It hangs nicely on the end of the bed frame and is great for storing additional school supplies, hair and make-up supplies, etc. Another great storage item is a trunk. Great for keeping things out of the way and double nicely as a coffee table if you have a futon.

    Reply
  9. This is great! Going into my junior year I feel like I’m getting better and better at organizing because I have to do it each year!
    Drawer organizers are my favorite though for my underwear drawer! I can organize out bras, undies, and socks with dividers so everything doesn’t get cluttered.
    As far as hanging shelves in the closet, though, it depends on your school. I used one freshman year and it helped hold towels and other things, but overall it just took up too much room in my closet and wasn’t worth it. It’s all about what works for you!

    Reply
  10. I have a dry-erase calendar that hangs on the wall next to my bed. At the start of the quarter, I write down the dates of all of my exams and papers and whatnot, that way I have a visual reminder of everything. I haven’t had an assignment sneak up on me since!

    I also put big parties and special events on there, it gives me something to look forward to!

    Reply

Leave a Comment