7 ways to organize clothes in a dorm

Get ur sh*t together

Dorm with two beds and under-bed storage
(Image credit: Dormfiy)

It’s no secret that dorm rooms are small, and dorm room closets are even smaller. While it’s certainly important to edit your wardrobe ahead of the fall semester so that you don’t have to accommodate every item of clothing you own, it’s inevitable that you’ll run out of closet space — especially if you’re packing for the fall, winter, and spring seasons. 

To combat this common dorm room storage woe, I got creative with different ways to organize clothes, including solutions for your tiny dorm room closet and functional decor pieces that can help you maximize your space (or lack thereof).  

Up ahead, I share seven ways to organize clothes in a dorm, including ideas for accessory and shoe storage, which can totally help you make more room for sweaters, jackets, and more. 

1. Hang clothes on space-saving felt hangers 

Even if you have a supremely small closet, you can make the most out of your space with space-saving felt hangers. These hangers are a little more of an investment than plastic hangers, however, they can increase the amount of hanging space and make a major difference in your wardrobe organization. Some felt hangers even come with hooks on the front, allowing you to hang them up in a waterfall-like way that takes up less space on the rack and fills the negative space between your clothes and closet shoe rack or floor. 

These hangers also last a super long time (I’ve had most of mine for over a decade), so you can easily repurpose them — and continue to achieve excellent rack space — when you move out of the dorms and into your first college apartment

2. Use under-bed storage for seasonal items 

Season items—especially winter coats and jackets—can take up a lot of space in a dorm room closet. To deal with this wardrobe woe, remove your coats, sweaters, and other bulky winter items when they aren’t in use, and use vacuum storage bags to make them as compact as possible (you’ll be shocked at how small they can get in these!). Then, keep everything in an under-the-bed storage bag until you’re ready for cozy vibes again. 

Also, don’t forget to switch out your winter and spring wardrobes so that you can maximize the space in your closet. Since winter clothes take up more space, you definitely want to ensure you remove spring and summer clothing — which will pack down even easier under the bed — so that you can create as much space as possible. 

3. Get a closet shoe rack with extra storage space

If you plan to keep your shoes inside your closet, make sure your shoe rack has extra storage so that you can utilize the negative space between clothing and the floor. A shoe rack that can also hold baskets or bins—such as this one from Wayfair—is great because it gives you plenty of space for your shoes and allows you to keep accessories such as scarves, beanies, sunglasses, and headbands organized. Shoe racks with drawers also come in handy because they typically have a bench-like surface that can work as extra seating or additional space to keep baskets and bins.  

4. Use ganging shelf organizers 

When organizing a college dorm closet, it helps to customize the interior as much as possible — as if you have a built-in closet organizer — to make the most out of your space. One way to do so is by adding a hanging shelf organizer to your clothing rod for folded sweaters and pants. In addition to clothing, you can also utilize hanging shoe racks if you don’t have the space for floor storage or a hanging purse organizer that allows you to see everything while saving space and keeping things organized. 

5. Don’t forget about the back of your door 

The back of your dorm room door is one area that might get overlooked but can make a major difference in clothing organization. This is especially true in cases where your accessories or shoes take up too much space in your wardrobe, and you want to keep the closet as open as possible for your actual garments. Whether you choose an over-the-door shoe organizer or an over-the-door shelf that can hold your accessories in one space, utilizing this space can help make the most out of your room while also keeping you organized. 

6. Store accessories in baskets 

If you have lots of accessories such as scarves, beanies, hats, and sunglasses, get a few cubby baskets for the top shelf of your closet and organize each bin by type or season using clip-on labels. Small wicker baskets also come in handy for storing seasonal shoes such as sandals and flip-flops as well as any overflow of toiletries or kitchenette supplies. 

7. Use small plastic drawers for socks and underwear 

For a space-saving sock drawer solution, add a small plastic drawer to your closet. These drawers are small and don’t take up a lot of space while also providing ample storage for socks, bras, underwear, bathing suits, and even hair accessories. To up the ante on organization, utilize fabric drawer organizers to separate everything by type so that you can easily find what you’re looking for. 

Jessie Quinn
Freelance Writer

Jessie Quinn is a lifestyle writer with words published in The Spruce, Byrdie, Well + Good, Shape, PEOPLE, and more. Jessie has a Bachelor's Degree in Fashion Journalism from Academy of Art University and leans on her background in fashion to inspire readers to hone their personal decor style as if it's their wardrobe. When she's not writing, Jessie can be found browsing the aisles of her local antique stores, creating DIY home decor projects, and taking care of her dozens of houseplants. Her eclectic decor style balances vintage, modern, and artisanal pieces that reflect her artsy style and love for handmade goods.