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Dorm rooms have to work hard to house all your earthly possessions, from work equipment, to clothes, to toiletries, to food, and with all these can come a host of different odors that can sometimes make them smell bad.
As a recent graduate, I know how important it is to maintain a nice-smelling dorm room, and during the holidays, realized there were things my parents did to make our house smell nice. My dorm room regularly smelt musty, despite my attempts to keep it clean and I hadn't even noticed. Becoming nose-blind to a dorm room's odor is often the reason why they end up smelling so bad.
So, how do you make your dorm room smell nice? According to experts, all you need is a regular maintenance routine, dorm room ideas that will help you keep the space neat, and fragrances to mask any lingering odors. After establishing a regular cleaning schedule, reassessing how to keep odors at bay and investing in diffusers, plants and other nice-smelling things that are good to have in a dorm room, mine ended up smelling even better than home.
How to make a dorm room smell nice
Here I, and our experts, share top tips for nice-smelling dorm rooms.
1. Maintain a regular cleaning schedule
Establish a regular bedroom cleaning routine to keep odors from developing, since they can emanate from unexpected places. While weekly cleaning is useful to keep unpleasant aromas at bay, you also should also deep clean your dorm room once a month.
Dust and clean
'Establish a regular cleaning schedule to keep your dorm tidy and hygienic. Allocate time each week to dust, vacuum, and wipe down surfaces. Taking small cleaning tasks regularly prevents dirt and grime from building up and becoming overwhelming.' says Lauren Brantley, founder of Lauren Ashley Design.
Yes, dust, believe it or not, does smell.
Change bedding weekly
Cleaning Expert, Muffetta Krueger advises, 'Clean and fresh bedding not only promotes a good night's sleep but also contributes to a pleasant-smelling dorm. You should change your bed sheets and pillowcases regularly to avoid accumulating sweat and odors.'
If you're wondering how often you should change bed sheets, the answer is once a week, especially if you snack in bed.
Do your dishes
Don't let food, drinks and plates sit around, and if you have a mini refrigerator in your dorm be sure to wipe out regularly.
Clean your bathroom
Although you might wish to avoid cleaning your bathroom, deep cleaning it is necessary to avoid bad smells. This entails scrubbing toilets, bathtubs, sinks, and tiles. Cleaning bathroom grout is an important and often forgotten way to banish smells, and can even be done with just a toothbrush and some soapy water.
Launder soft furnishings
If, after all this, a bad odor lingers, you may need to look to the furnishings in your room that typically harbor bad smells: namely, the mattress, drapes and flooring. You may find you need to clean your mattress, clean curtains, clean blinds, wash or clean area rugs or deep clean a carpet. It may be that you only need to clean one of them once, or all of them regularly.
Muffetta Krueger is a driving force in the domestic service business, with over 15 years of operational management experience in the industry.
2. Keep bad smells at bay
Often, the cause of bad smells in dorm rooms isn't just a single bad smell, but a combination of many different ones. To keep these odors at bay, ensure you:
Store snacks in airtight containers and keep them in a cabinet to seal the smells in – I used this Skroam airtight food container set from Amazon; it worked really well and stacks so it was space-efficient.
Find a hamper with a lid for your dirty laundry; not only is this an aesthetic way to keep washing, but it will also prevent any funky odors from taking over your space. I used this iEGrow slim laundry hamper from Amazon which is another space-efficient buy that has an inner bag that you just lift out on washday to carry your laundry.
Store away items that have a strong smell, such as perfumes, hairspray, and shoes, keeping them as far from your bed or where you sit in your room as possible. With unavoidable smells such as these there are a few solutions: first, you could keep them in a closet with a closed door; secondly, you should air out the room and any damp items, such as shoes, before you put them away; thirdly, you could use odor absorbers, such as shoe odor eliminators to minimize any unpleasant smells (my room-mate used these shoe odor eliminators from Amazon for their gym shoes).
Muffetta Krueger suggests, 'Use natural odor absorbers like activated charcoal or baking soda to combat unwanted smells in your dorm room. These substances can be placed in discreet containers and left around the room to help neutralize odors.'
These bamboo charcoal bags from Amazon can be easily hung in closets, placed in cabinets or suspended from curtain rails to absorb bad odors.
3. Air our your dorm room
Make sure to air out your dorm room regularly, especially if you are eating in there regularly, smoke or vape, or have to hang damp clothes in it to dry.
Simply opening your windows and doors to let fresh air in will purge the room of musty and unpleasant smells. You could also invest in a fan or air purifier. A good quality air purifier can remove dust particles that cause odors; it will also reduce allergens from your room. I recommend this AROEVE Air Purifier from Amazon, which is neat-looking and, guess what? You can add drops of essential oil to it to make your dorm room smell nicer.
4. Find storage solutions to keep clutter minimal
Small dorm room storage tricks are not just great for making the most of your space and organizing your belongings, but can also help reduce odors by ensuring you maintain a clutter-free (and therefore better-smelling) dorm room.
Investing in stackable bins and underbed storage ideas, but remember to keep things from smelling musty by dusting and airing them out occasionally.
I found these underbed storage boxes with lids, at Amazon, useful and convenient for keeping everything from clothes to toiletries to food out of sight and contained. Plus, on moving day, I simply filled them and stacked them in the trunk of the car.
Decluttering your space regularly will release trapped odors, and will give your dorm a more refreshing and airy feel.
Embrace a minimalist approach to your dorm. Keep only the essentials and avoid unnecessary clutter and mess.
5. Add pleasant scents to your dorm room
After preventing any odors from lingering in your dorm room, it's time to start adding fragrances that will elevate the appeal of your dorm.
If your dorms are allowed to have candles (double check first) then find ones that are scented which you can burn at the end of a busy day (never leave burning candles unattended though!). If not, reed diffusers, pot pourri, or bed and room sprays or some homemade alternatives are an easy and low maintenance way to introduce some nice smells to your dorm. My favorites are below.
Other options include making a homemade room spray. All you need is water, essential oils, and a splash of vodka in a spray bottle, and your DIY air freshener is ready to go and can be used everyday.
'Opt for scents that are fresh, uplifting, but not overpowering. Citrus, floral, and herbal fragrances tend to work well in dorm rooms.' says Nick Haden, certified aromatherapist and cleaning expert at Shoes Cleaning.
These stoneware candles come in a range of different colors, and are scented with moss and sage.
This beautiful pot pourri pack is not only aesthetically pleasing, but will fill your room with delicate vanilla and tonka aromas.
Can plants help make your dorm smell better?
There are plenty of air-cleaning indoor plants that will help your room to breathe, and smell less musty. These include the snake plant (which, by the way, barely needs watering), weeping fig, sword fern, golden pothos, chrysanthemum and aglaonema.
Your dorm room is an important place to have smelling nice since it functions as a bedroom, office, dressing room, and sometimes even a dining room. Having a nice-smelling dorm room can be calming before an exam, welcoming after a long day of work and make early mornings that bit easier, so keeping a routine of managing your room to so that it is well ventilated and freshly fragranced can be great practice.
Our final hack for keeping your dorm room smelling nice is investing in scented trash bags, like these from Amazon. They don't give off the best of scents, but they do mask odors that build up daily.
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Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past five years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including recipe articles, reviewing products, writing ‘how to’ and ‘when to’ articles. Lola now writes about everything from organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate student, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.
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