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How to keep a dorm organized

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After several years of uncertain arrivals and departures at university, students and parents are hoping that this semester’s move will be a return to normal. However, many preparations are necessary for a smooth transition. The list of supplies a student needs to live comfortably is long and the room is small.

Start by doing your homework. Each school has information on room size and layout. If this information has not been sent to you, search online for photos and dimensions, because knowing what you are walking in will set you up for success.

Here are some ideas for maximizing space and keeping things organized for the whole year.

Make the bed work for you

All the information you can gather about the beds is essential. A bedroom may have loft beds, captain beds (beds with built-in drawers and storage compartments underneath) or standard frame beds. It helps to know how much space you will have to work under and above your bed.

How to organize your home without spending a lot of money on containers and accessories

Any space under a standard frame can be maximized with plastic bins, such as Sterilite’s 60-quart bins with latches ($24.99, target.com). They’re great for storing boots and hats, bulky sweaters, or extra toiletries. Use bed risers, like the six-inch ones from Everbilt ($11.32 for four, homedepot.com), can add extra inches of storage space under the bed.

If your student has a loft bed, then a portable nightstand, like the Folding Cube Nightstand ($40, sleepify.com), where they can put devices, books or other small items, can be useful.

Once you’ve made the most of the area under the bed, look up. An over-the-door organizer, like the 24-Pocket Mesh Shoe Bag ($21.99, containerstore.com), can be used for shoes, umbrellas, lanyards, sunscreen, hats and gloves.

Some dorm rooms have small mirrors installed, but if you’re looking for something a little larger with added functionality, try Pottery Barn Teen’s Metal Grate Functional Mirror ($199, pbteen.com), which has hooks and a rack for storage.

Command hooks that attach with adhesive strips and won’t damage surfaces are another way to make the most of smaller wall spaces. They are available in different sizes and can hold jackets, hats, towels, umbrellas, backpacks or sports equipment. There are also Command shopping carts for office supplies, makeup, and sunglasses. With all Command products, follow instructions and do not hang anything on them until the specified wait time has elapsed. (Available at multiple locations; prices vary.)

Another option is to add storage above dressers or desks. A small stackable drawer cabinet, such as the Sterilite Three-Drawer Small Counter Cabinet ($14.89, target.com), may contain medicine and first aid supplies, cosmetics, jewelry, technical accessories or office supplies.

When furniture meets storage

A storage ottoman can be used to store extra clothes or supplies while serving as a seat or small table. There are many affordable choices available in different sizes, styles, and colors. Scout’s Rump Roost ($66.50 – $74.50 for a large, scoutbags.com) is lightweight and easy to clean, and it folds flat when not in use.

Consider placing a cubic shelving system, like Ikea’s Kallax unit ($34.99, ikea.com), next to the bed for affordable and versatile extra storage. You can add bins or leave the spaces open.

And three-tier rolling carts, like the Lexington Cart ($29.99, michaels.com), are lightweight and affordable options for storing food, books, clothes, laundry supplies, or toiletries.

A handheld vacuum, such as the Brigii Mini Vacuum, Air Duster, and Hand Pump ($38.53, amazon.com), is useful for small damage. And something that helps students organize their devices and the chargers that come with them is vital. Try Waitiee’s three-in-one wireless charger ($30.59, amazon.com). Make sure students have multiple power strips and an extension cord to ensure easy access.

Reusable pouches, like those from Stasher (sizes and prices vary, stasherbag.com), are also useful for organizing cords, medicine, credit cards, cash and writing utensils. And thin hangers, like the Squared Away Non-Slip Thin Hangers ($35 for 50, bedbathhandbeyond.com), or tiered hangers, such as the Four Tier Chrome Swing Arm Hangers ($10.99, containerstore.com), will maximize limited hanging space in a closet.

Finally, don’t forget to declutter before you leave. Having the proper storage in any dorm room will go a long way in keeping things tidy, but even the most organized spaces can’t hold a lot of excess. Make smart decisions about what you bring. Less is more when it comes to college life; you’ll have less to keep up with and your housemates will thank you.

Nicole Anzia is a freelance writer and owner of Neatnik. She can be reached at [email protected].