8 Dorm Room Organization Ideas for College Students on a Budget

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8 Dorm Room Organization Ideas for College Students on a Budget

Dorm room organization can be a daunting task when you’re not even sure where to begin…

But, hey:

You’re going to be (or already are) living in a dorm room, and that’s exciting! This means more freedom from parents and siblings, and you’re in charge of making (mostly) all of your own decisions.

No one can tell you when to go to bed, what to eat or even when to take a shower.

But there is at least one disadvantage to dorm life…

..living with less space.

At home, you could keep your things throughout the house – like how your toothbrush and soap were left in the bathroom. However, you tend to keep all of your stuff in your dorm room during your college years unless you want to share these things with everyone you know.


Because you keep more things in a smaller space, it can get messy pretty quickly. That is unless you’re organized.

Keeping your dorm room organized will help keep you (and your roommate) sane because you can find what you need quickly, and you won’t feel like you’re drowning in, well, stuff.

Here are 8 smart ways to tackle dorm room organization: they’ll get you on track to having a tidy space in no time.

Even better:

All of these organization tips are SUPER budget-friendly. ‘Cause, there’s no need to spend a lot to get your things in order!


Dorm Organization Ideas

1. Soda Can Tabs & Shoe Boxes

coat hangers with soda can tab on metal part of hanger so another hanger can attach to create more space in dorm closet
Source: WallPeg

You can pretty much DOUBLE your closet space with this method!

How do soda tabs help with organization?

Simple: take the tab off a soda can and put it on the neck part of a hanger. Then hang a second hanger from the other hole in the soda can tab (pictured above).

Now you can hang two pieces of clothing in the same area that one would typically fit! Just hang heavier items on the stationary hanger (at the top) to keep things more stable.

The best part is:

This space-saving tactic is free! Ask your friends/family to save their soda tabs for you, and you’ll be able to up your closet space easily.

TIP: To save time in the morning, consider hanging ready-made outfits on joined hangers.

This brings us to another, essentially FREE way to organize your room:

And that would be with shoe boxes.

Shoe boxes are easy to find, and you can use them in your dorm room to create separate compartments in drawers.

How do you use them?

Cut the shoe boxes in half and put them in your drawers (see picture above). Each little compartment can be used to keep socks, undies, scarfs, or other items separate and neat.

Easy to do and easy to make use of! After all, the more organized you are, the more space you can create.

Consider the shoe box method a cost-free alternative to purchasing something like this drawer organizer.


2. Over The Door Organizer

college dorm room items organized in pockets which hang on back of door

This one is one of my favorite dorm room organization hacks. It’s clever in a “why didn’t I think of that??” kind of way.

When you think about it, the back of a door is an area where space is “wasted.”


Take advantage of that extra space with an over-the-door shoe organizer!

The best part is:

It can be used to organize MORE than just shoes! Bathroom supplies, snacks, school items, or other smallish things can fit in the pockets.

Use it to store anything taking up space or cluttering your desk. Or turn into a dorm room food pantry of sorts.


3. Binder Clips

binder clips

Binder clips may be an obvious way to organize class papers, but using them as a dorm organization hack is a little less obvious.

They have lots of uses, but the best way to use them in your dorm room is for organizing cords.

Phones, laptops, and headphones all have cords. Add all those cords together, and it’s easy to get a major tangled mess!

Remedy that problem quickly and with ease by clipping a few binder clips to the side of your desk.

The binder clips will be doing you a favor by:

  • keeping cords separate to prevent tangling.
  • keeping cords out the way which helps you avoid tripping hazards.
  • keeping cords from getting lost – because you know right where they are!

I mean, who knew that something so common and small, actually turns out to be a BIG help when it comes to getting a dorm room in order? I love the simplicity of it!


4. Bedskirt Organizer

organizer with pockets hanging off side of dorm room bed

Another smarty pants way to create more space in a dorm room is to use a nifty bedskirt organizer.

The nice thing is:

You can use one of these in any dorm room. It just slips right under the mattress and – voila!

You now have alllll kinds of new and useful storage pockets.

Like the over the door organizer, it can be used to store whatever will fit in the pockets. You could even store your shoes in it!

I say, the more storage pockets, the better when it comes to cramped dorm rooms.


5. Egg Cartons & Ice Cube Trays

college student essentials organized into sections of an ice cube tray

Bobby pins are famous for disappearing, but this next dorm organization hack can help you keep a little better track of them.

An empty ice tray, or an empty egg carton, is a GREAT way to organize and store small items (i.e., bobby pins, earrings, etc.).

I’d recommend storing them in a drawer to keep your counter clutter-free.

To top it all off:

Not only is this organizational tip easy as pie, but also completely budget friendly! Egg cartons are FREE, or you can buy 2 packs of ice trays for just a buck-ish at the dollar store.


6. Store Sheets Where It Makes Sense

This next organizing idea for dorms is a no-brainer!

If you have an extra pair of sheets, and hopefully you do (unexpected messes happen!), you can easily store them right under your mattress.

They are flat enough that you won’t even notice that they’re under there.


When you wash the ones on your mattress, you won’t have to search anywhere to find your second set. A simple but effective way to maximize college dorm room space.


7. Use a Magnetic Board

college girl makeup organized on board with magnets in her dorm room
Source: Seventeen

This next hack requires a little bit of crafting, but it’s super easy to make.

Organize that dorm room by keeping your makeup off the desk and somewhere you can grab it quickly by utilizing a magnetic board.

An added bonus is that you can decorate it to make it look cute!

You can jazz up a magnetic board to suit your taste and, at the same time, add a little of “you” to the dorm room. Its organization and decor all rolled into one.

Using a magnetic board to store makeup is just one idea, I mean, you can really use it to organize anything you want! Maybe school supplies?


If you want to use it to hang something that doesn’t have metal in it, simply glue a small magnet (like these round ones) to the item.

You can get magnets for cheap at a dollar store or online. A dollar store may not carry small round magnets, but you can cut thinner magnets to fit the shape of the item you want to hang on the board.


8. Make Use of Lots & Lots of Hooks

When you’re living in a dorm, you generally want to avoid causing damage to the walls, but this can be difficult when you want to hang things.

This is where Command hooks and other Command wall hangers come in!

They don’t cause damage, and they have nearly endless uses. You can use them to hang necklaces, toothbrushes, keys, string lights, and towels, to name a few things.

Check out this article for even more ideas.


Final thoughts on dorm organizing ideas

So those are my 8 dorm room organization hacks to get you started on the task of creating a neat and orderly space.


If your room is already a giant mess and it gives you a headache to even think about cleaning it, start by taking it just one thing at a time.

Try cleaning and sorting a small area each day or working in short bursts. I’m sure you’ll be able to have it all done in a very reasonable amount of time.

Do you have any great organization tips for dorms? I’d love to hear about it in a comment below!


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    1. Hi Wendy, the post is looking normal for us on desktop and mobile. Can you tell me which browser you’re using?

  1. I love it! 🙂 The dorm room that I’ve booked is quite small, so I’ll definitely make use of these organization hacks. 🙂

  2. The idea of putting your extra sheets under your mattress is brilliant. Would never have thought to do this!