Dorm organization tips to keep your tiny box of a room clutter-free

Marie Kondo would be proud

A blue pastel swirly background with a picture of a dorm showing a bed and posters.
(Image credit: Future / Dormify / Beth Mahoney)

I know, I know, living in a teeny tiny dorm — most likely with a random roommate — is hard. But if you nail the whole "making the most of the space" thing and stay on top of organizing your dorm, it can be a lot of fun, too. This compact space is your first step into the adult world, and it’s (probably) your first taste of independent living away from your fam.

Naturally, you want your dorm to be the space you can relax after a hectic day of classes. The issue is that if the room is disorganized, you’re probably going to find relaxing a li'l tricky. The good news is, even if your tiny dorm features cinder block walls and furniture that gives low-key jail vibes, if everything is organized (and you add some personality to the space) it can be a much calmer and more relaxing place. 

Knowing how to organize your dorm and store your stuff effectively isn’t just about being neat, it also offers a way to take control of your life. If you’re unsure how to approach (what feels like) the mammoth task of organizing your dorm, we’ve rounded up a selection of tips — all of which come tried and tested by yours truly.

What are the best ways to keep your dorm room organized?

1. Utilize vertical storage 

When you lack floor space, one of the best options for adding storage to your dorm is to opt for vertical storage solutions. Adorn your closet doors with over-the-door storage that can be stuffed with shoes, rolled-up clothes, or any other essentials (like this one that's available at Target). These were my go-to in college and they really helped me keep my dorm neater and more organized. 

2. Add a utility cart 

Rolling, multi-tiered utility carts are a really great way to add additional storage to your dorm. They come in a range of heights and widths and there are plenty of slimline designs. They're ideal for stashing essentials and come in some really cute colors (like this srsly pretty pink design from Amazon)! Whether you pop one by your bed or in your closet, it’s going to add plenty of extra storage space.  

3. Loft your bed (and use underneath for storage)

A great way to add extra storage space to your dorm is to loft your bed, so that you can use the additional space underneath to add extra storage. Using plastic bins and baskets, you can make use of this additional area under your bed to store whatever you like, from clothes to books — or anything else that you need to tuck away. 

4. Hang wall hooks 

Add a selection of hooks to your dorm wall. You can use these to store essentials that you use all of the time, like headphones, laundry bags, or sweatshirts. Honestly, they're game-changers. And, there are plenty of no-drill options to choose from, so there’s no need to worry about causing damage to your wall (or angering your RA). Alternatively, if you aren’t allowed to stick hooks on your wall, you could opt for over-the-door hooks, like these ones from Amazon.

5. Add an ottoman 

A storage ottoman — like this folding ottoman from Amazon — doubles as an extra seat, so it’s a great choice for adding to your dorm room, especially if you plan on having friends over to your room. Plus, it gives you somewhere handy to stash messes. Plus, they come in all kinds of fun and colorful designs, so whatever the style of your space, you should be able to find the perfect fit. 

6. Send items you don't use home

Don't make the mistake of holding onto an item that you aren't going to need "just in case." It'll only clog up your space. So, instead of keeping items in your dorm that aren't necessary, send them home. Honestly, when you see how much clearer your dorm looks without all those unnecessary items, you'll be super thankful you cleared them out. 

Beth Mahoney
Staff Writer

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a Staff Writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.