12 Must-Know Dorm Hacks for College Kids

With two of our three kids in college, we know all about tiny dorm rooms, improvised food preparation, and…well…forgetting to clean things (did we mention our kids are boys?). So we’re bringing you some surprising and impressive lifehacks for dorms.

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
4-minute read

Clever Microwave Hack

Whether you’re lucky enough to have a microwave in your dorm room, or you have one elsewhere in your building, it’s probably super-tiny. Grab a microwave-safe glass or mug and you can double your space by using two bowls at once: Turn the glass upside down and place one bowl on top of it. The glass will raise the second bowl higher than the first, so both will fit at the same time.

Pro Tip for Small Fridges

If you keep milk or other dairy products in your tiny dorm fridge, make sure to store it in the back of the refrigerator, not on the door. Why? All dairy products are super perishable. The optimal refrigeration temperature is actually just over 32°F; however, few small refrigerators can even get that low and stay there. Keeping dairy in the back of the fridge rather than the door means fewer temperature fluctuations, which will keep it lasting longer.

Remove Stickers from Dorm Walls

If you just moved into your new dorm room and its previous tenant plastered bumper stickers all over your furniture (or, you’re leaving and you have to get your own off!), try this: Set a hair dryer on high and run it back and forth over the sticker until the adhesive softens. Then apply a bit of oil (like olive oil, baby oil, or furniture polish). Carefully lift a corner with a credit card, and it should peel right off.

Keep Mold Off Your Shower Caddy

Make sure your shower caddy doesn’t get gross by spraying it down after every shower with this DIY spray that keeps away mold and mildew: Add ¼ cup white vinegar to a small spray bottle, and fill the rest with water. Shake before using. (If your shower caddy already has mold or mildew, you can get it off with this easy hydrogen peroxide cleaner

Ketchup Catch Up

Can’t get the ketchup out of that stubborn glass bottle at the dining hall? Just stick a straw inside. Now when you turn it upside-down, the ketchup will flow right out, thanks to the newly created airflow through the straw.

How to Get Drinks Cold Without a Fridge

Have a bunch of warm drinks—that are definitely not beers unless you are twenty-one—and need to cool them down, fast? The good news is that the quickest way to chill drinks is not in a refrigerator. Layer ice with salt and some water in a bucket or other container, then plunge the drinks inside. The layering technique lowers the freezing point of the water and chills drinks fastest.

Clean Wood with Stale Beer

If you are over twenty-one, you may have one of the best DIY cleaners for your wood dorm furniture on hand: beer! Leftover beer (even flat beer) is perfect for dusting wood furniture—who knew? Just put some on a damp paper towel and rub over furniture for a nice shine.

Popcorn Bowl Hack

If you pop popcorn anywhere in a dorm, everyone else is going to smell it and come ask for some. Make it easy with some coffee filters. They make great disposable popcorn bowls.

Didn’t Wash Your Hair?

You were up studying all night (and OK, you hadn’t showered the day before that, either) and your hair is so greasy it’s about to start standing on its ends. Freshen it up quickly and easily with cornstarch, which works just as well as dry shampoo for a fraction of the cost. Granted, this lifehack is a little messy, so stand on a towel, or hold your head over a sink. Then sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch on dry hair, starting at your part, and massage throughout the hair and scalp. Leave for five minutes to allow it to absorb excess oil, and then brush it out. If you don’t have cornstarch, you can use something else absorbent like baby powder, baking soda, or salt.

Get Rid of a Smoky Smell on Clothes

This tip was more relevant back in our own college days, but if you go to a party where there was cigarette smoking, you can remove a smoky smell from your clothes by filling a bathtub or bucket with hot water and adding 1 cup white vinegar. Then just hang the clothes above the steaming water, and the smoke smell will dissipate in about a half hour.

Smelly Dorm Room?

Let’s be honest, dorm rooms can be smelly. Keep some fabric softener sheets on hand to make it smell like fresh laundry, all the time. They’re great for sticking in smelly shoes, hampers, gym bags, dresser drawers, or anything else that needs a little freshening.

Personalize Your Wall without Frames or Tacks

To make a fun display for your favorite photos, string a piece of twine between two points in your room, then place small clothespins, binder clips, or paperclips on it like a clothesline. You can then hang photos, artwork, and other items without harming the wall—and it looks cute, too!

For more ways to solve everyday problems from all around the internet, check out our Lifehacks board on Pinterest. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Instagram!

About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.