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Organization

These pros share what you need to organize a dorm room

Clutter-free college living

A collage featuring a door hanger, organizer, storage cubes and bed lifts. Credit: Command / Amazon / Bed Bath & Beyond

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Dropping your kid off at college is hard enough. But when faced with the size (or lack thereof) of their temporary home for the next 30 weeks, panic can certainly move in. Where is everything going to go?

We asked a few experts (some with college-bound kids themselves) to school us on the best practices for organizing a dorm room. With some planning and strategic purchases, you or your student will have everything needed to make the most of the limited space typically found in college living quarters.

Be prepared, says Leena Alsulaiman, lifestyle expert and style coach in the San Francisco Bay area, noting that most schools will have an outline of what’s in the room and how big it is.

“If not, check on YouTube for student tours of their dorms,” she says. “This will help you visualize what you will need to prepare for the move-in.”

Here’s everything you need to organize a dorm room, according to the pros.

Use hooks to hang backpacks, keys, and more

Door hook packaged in front of a background.
Credit: Command / Reviewed

Easy way to hang some of your necessities for easy reach and visibility.

Regardless of room size, when it comes to organizing and utilizing your space, think walls instead of floors. In other words, go vertical with Command Hooks.

“Get more than you will ever think you'll need,” says book author and host of Clutter Free Academy podcast, Kathi Lipp.

To keep her college kid organized, she hung everything from keys to coats, towels to toiletries, scissors to a bucket of pens and pencils.

“These hooks will be used for everything, as you will not be allowed to use nails to hang things in your dorm room, and to keep things organized like your keys, bathroom towels, and coats. They’re top of the must-have list,” agrees Alsulaiman.

$7 at Amazon

Hanging shoe organizers to keep track of knickknacks

Rack with mesh bags in front of a background.
Credit: Smart Design / Reviewed

Normally used for shoes but can easily fit just about anything else.

While sneakers are the kicks of choice for college kids schlepping to and from classes, they’re not the only things that fit into mesh shoe pockets.

“I love [mesh shoe pockets], because they're strong and sturdy, go over the door, and can hold all sorts of things, not just shoes,” says Gayle Gruenberg, chief executive organizer at Let's Get Organized, professional organization services in New Jersey and New York.

Think socks, electronics, personal care supplies, and much more. She suggests sticking with mesh, as plastic pockets are known to break easily.

$22 at The Container Store

Laundry baskets, but make it fun

A basketball door hanger in front of a background.
Credit: Bundaloo / Reviewed

Become the new NBA star by shooting some laundry hoops.

Now that they’ve taken their laundry off your to-do list, combining organization with fun makes mundane tasks like these more manageable now that they’re on their own.

“A basketball hoop hamper is an incentive to keep clothes off the floor, as well as a visual reminder to do the laundry,” says Gruenberg of this sporty space-saver.

$25 at Amazon

Save space with an over-the-door organizer

A set of door racks in front of a background.
Credit: Reviewed / Amazon

Pantry condiments? School supplies? Bathroom essentials? Make it your own with this door organizer.

As you attempt to utilize vertical spaces and create more free space on the ground, one of Alsulaiman’s top dorm room purchases and investments is an over-the-door shelving unit.

“Many of these shelving units can be customized to fit your needs, whether it's for shoes, hanging clothes or bathroom necessities,” she explains.

$50 at Amazon

Organizational crates to keep things clutter free

Leatherette storage in front of a background.
Credit: Kinfine / Reviewed

For your legs and your valuables.

The most successful items in your kid’s room will have a double major. Translation: According to Lipp, items should pull double duty, like a stacking drawer unit serving as a bedside table or a storage ottoman “as extra seating for when a friend visits and storage for things that aren't needed every day.”

Crates on their sides have been in dorm rooms for decades because they work as both bookcases and surface area for table lamps and items.

$96 at Hayneedle

Utilize under-the-bed storage with bins

Bins and bed risers in front of a background.
Credit: Amazon / Bed bath & Beyond / Reviewed

Save up some space efficiently by adding these under the bed.

“Under the bed storage bins are great for extra clothes, bedding, or heavier clothes for the transition between seasons,” says Alsulaiman. “Check if the beds in your dorm room are raised or if you can request a raised bed to accommodate the storage bins.”

For even more room, Lipp suggests purchasing bed risers (some come with outlet and USB ports) to get that bed off the ground, making more room for storage.

When it comes to the best use of your space, get creative and be clever. According to Gruenberg, hitting up your local Dollar Store could save your college kid space and you money. Just a few of her helpful ideas: use a small drawer unit for toiletries or class supplies; a napkin holder as file sorter; or a shower caddy for desk supplies, snacks, or bedside items.

$30 at Amazon $18 at Bed Bath & Beyond

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