Organizing your Bed and Bath in a Dorm (or small space)

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Posted 26 Jul 2007 in Soulville

“Dude! I have to share a bathroom!”– If you’re living in a dorm, the sad thing is that you’ll probably be sharing a bathroom with at least a quarter of your floor. Even if it’s a single sex bathroom and floor, I GUARANTEE that you’ll have someone of the opposite sex in there all the time. And dorm bathrooms are GROSS. Many people think of them as an okay place to leave nasty since they don’t have to clean it. Hair in the drain, no TP (toilet paper), whatever that is in and on the toilet, stopped up toilets, hearing a toilet flush and not hearing a sink run, etc. Ewwww! Today, I want to share with you some tips and tricks to keep your bath time enjoyable and your bedroom a relaxing place to begin and end the day!

This dorm shower is optimized to cause Trouble
Creative Commons License photo credit: FallenPegasus

Quick shower tips

  • If you’re like me, you don’t want to be walking around in a single layer through the halls after a shower. Hang everything on the hook outside the shower and be very careful stepping into your clothes.
  • Wear “shower shoes” – cheap flip flops that are only for that purpose. Make sure to clean your feet and to toss these every few weeks – they carry germs that are in the shower! And no, foot fungus is NOT sexy!
  • If you don’t mind walking around in a robe, make sure you hang or fold your robe in a way that it’s easy to get in and out of after you finish showering. Get one that has big pockets so you can put things like your room keys and maybe your cellphone in there. Yes, your roommate will lock you out of your room after the best shower of your life. Additionally, in the age of MP3 players on your phone, it’s a great way to keep track of the time, not miss your mom’s call and to have great tunes to shave to. I love to use music to time myself in the shower and keep me from being late or spending too long in there.
  • Get a good shower tote, preferably one that keeps the things like soap and washcloth furthest off the floor of the shower and has drainage holes to allow water to drain from the bottom of the tote quickly. Sitting water creates a habitat for nasty things to be all over your toiletries that you touch and things you put in your hair!
  • Wanna shave quickly and efficiently? Get an electric shaver and use it in the shower. This works for guys and girls and you’ll be all cute when you get out the shower and no one is wiser. Plus, no hair in the sink and no falling over in the shower (ladies!) and no blood!

When you are departing the bathroom some important tips to remember:

  • Get a paper towel and open the door. Remember earlier when I mentioned the flushing of the toilet but no sink water? Dorms are the easiest way to get somebody sick because of the confined space. No need to help the germs out any.
  • And clean up after yourself in the shower. You know if you wash your hair you should check the drain!
  • Hang up your robe and towel in places they can dry well in your room. Mildew doesn’t just apply to showers. Wash these items often and switch towels every week at least. Switch wash cloths more often. Use a separate wash cloth for face and body.

Creative Commons License photo credit: me vs gutenberg

Besides using a tote in the shower, totes or similar baskets are great for organizing your toiletry items outside the shower. I keep three baskets – one for medication, vitamins, pedicure/manicure items and shaving items; one for facial cleansers, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, q-tips, earring cleaning solution and lady items; and one for hair stuff and other miscellaneous items. Of course, you don’t have to have this many, but find a system that works for you. If you have your own apartment or have a bathroom in your own personal space that you are responsible for cleaning, KEEP IT CLEAN. The best way to do this is to:

  • Rinse the shower or tub after every use. Use comet or a spray in cleaner once a week on the basin itself, the faucets and the shower head. You’d be surprised how much blockage there can be at a shower head.
  • Rinse the sink after using to brush your teeth. Clean it at the same time you clean your tub and make sure to clean the faucet and all around the outsides of the sink.

Put a small calendar up next to your sink and make a mark on the first of the month every third month after you’ve moved in. Change your toothbrush on this day, more often if you’ve been sick!

  • Clean the toilet by pouring some pine sol or a similar cleaner into the tub and let it sit for a while. Scrub it with a toilet brush a while later and flush – you’re done.
  • Sweep and mop the floor once a week. Change your towels and bath mat at the same time.
  • Wash your shower liner in the washing machine every few months with a little bleach added in. This will keep it nice and mildew/mold free!
  • Keep soap and a guest towel in the bath area. This will ensure that your guests at least attempt to wash their hands. I’ve found signs work well too – “A bell rings in the kitchen if the toilet flushes and the sink isn’t used. Please wash your hands.” 😆

Don’t have enough hooks in your bathroom to hang all the things you want to use? 3M makes bathroom hooks similar to the ones I recommended last week for your desk area. They work great!

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Creative Commons License photo credit: me and the sysop

So, now you’re back in your bed area (or in a dorm room, the designated area that becomes the bed area). Clothes everywhere, bed unmade, etc etc. Typical. I’m there, too, so it’s okay.

  • Make sure to keep your clothes hamper near where ever you take clothes on and off (usually closet, but not necessarily). If it is full, wash it. Do not be that guy who just keeps buying clothes because he doesn’t want to wash the clothes. Yeah it’s expensive but you get to know people. I like the pop up hampers (typically less than $5 each at WalMart).
  • Keep an iron and an ironing board (table top ones work great and save plenty of space!) in your closet. You can’t always get that perfect shake to remove wrinkles.
  • Invest in good hangers (or a good set of drawers or shelves) if you like to have things folded. Or if you dont hang or fold, get a second hamper that will be for clean clothes (different color than dirty) and when it’s empty, you know to wash!
  • Minimize the number of hangers you need by putting more than one pair of pants on hangers or by getting the hangers that are like 6 in 1. I like to put complete outfits on a single hanger. That way, I just reach in and I’m ready to go!
  • If you have no designated closet space, create a closet by using “old-fashioned” clotheslines to hang clothes on or get a set of the plastic drawers from the store.
  • Create additional storage by using the big 3M hooks to hang dress clothes up or over the door hangers (usually have space to hang 4-7 hangers).
  • Don’t keep clothes forever. If you haven’t worn clothes in MONTHS, it’s time to give them to Goodwill or sell them on Craigslist. If it is a special outfit that you will wear again, its ok to keep, but if it is that pair of jeans you hope to fit into again 3 years later, get rid of them. You hold yourself back from having a closet of clothes that is organized and fits.

A good way to determine whether it is time to let clothing items go, hang your clothes with the buttons to the left. When you wear and wash over a period of months, hang them up with the buttons to the right. If 3 months later there are clothes with the buttons still to the right, it’s time to get rid of those items. 💡

The bed is usually the biggest challenge. Because of the cramped nature of dorm rooms, I like to take all my blankets and fold them at the foot of the bed, no matter the season, the put a top sheet to sleep under. The blankets stay out of my way and I don’t have to worry to find them if it gets chilly. The most important thing is to be realistic with what you put on your bed. You might love all your stuffed animals, but pick the favorite or a couple and put the others somewhere else. Otherwise, they end up all over the floor. If you actually sleep with all 15 pillows, awesome (send me a message and tell me how you did it!), but otherwise stick to 1, 2 or 3 and give the others up or use them as floor seating in your pad when friends come over.

Artist Dorm Room
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nathan Wells

  • Underbed storage is awesome. Crates can store things that aren’t bed or bath items and underbed storage boxes (or totes if you can raise the bed) are really good for a large usually under utilized storage space in your room. Storage trunks usually fit, too and can be awesome tools for seasonal gear.
  • A key to small space living is utilizing every space! If you have ends on your bed, try closet hangers on there to hang things like bags or even hang a few items if you’re bunked. If you pull out winter gear, put up as much summer gear as you won’t be using. Be realistic – small space equals everything not being out at once.
  • Decorate your walls but don’t overdo it. Favorite poster, school flag, nice artwork, smooth but cool. You want this to be a place that says SLEEP.
  • Try to keep study stuff out the bed. Make sure to try and put your bed next to an electrical outlet. Keep a space available where you can put your phone, medication, water, etc, like a window ledge, a night table, the back of your desk (if it’s pushed up to the head of your bed), etc.
  • Put the alarm clock across the room. You might actually make your 8 O’clock class or work this way! You will not have the luxury of reaching over and hitting the snooze button – which can be a lifesaver on those days when you don’t want to get up but have an important test or presentation!
  • When you’re changing your towels, change your sheets (and pillowcases). It keeps the amount of dust and dirt down in your room (you do shed, you know) and makes you have a day to sleep on warm sheets once a week. Reducing the amount of dust and dirt will help you not get so sick when living in close confines with others.
  • Vacuum your carpet once a week, or sweep and mop your hardwood or tile floors when you sweep and mop your bathroom.

Okay, I think that wraps it up for this week. I’ll be back in next week to finish this miniseries by talking about food area organization, so don’t forget to check that out! In August, I want to share with you tips and tricks for buying books and tech items for school. See you next week in Soulville!

HarriMac enjoys a well lived life with a large serving of soul. Her special feature, Welcome to Soulville, appears every Thursday.

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  1. Agreed: its amazing how many guys u meet in a girls only dorm ❓ ❓ ❓

  2. harrimac

    i think i knew all of my hallmates boyfriends better than i knew them before the end of the first semester…

  3. The funniest thing about living in the dorms was seeing guys in pink bathrobes in the hallways at 3 a.m. 😆

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