Cleaning Supplies for College Dorms

Student in the kitchen cleaning

When you’re getting ready to head off to college, you’re probably thinking about meeting new friends, doing well in your classes and enjoying cultural attractions in your new city. Don’t forget, however, that you should also think about practical concerns — like purchasing cleaning supplies for college dorm rooms.

Likewise, if you’re already a college student and the end of the school year is approaching, you may need to pick up some dorm room cleaning supplies so that you can freshen up your space before leaving to go back home for the summer. Check out the top list of cleaning supplies for dorm rooms here.

In This Article:

What to Know Before Getting Cleaning Supplies for College Dorms

Before picking up any cleaning supplies for dorm rooms, you should check your dorm’s list of items that are allowed and not allowed. Generally, most cleaning supplies are fine to bring, but it’s good practice to double-check whether there are any restrictions. Your school may also offer a list of supplies that are recommended to bring.

In some cases, you might not need to bring everything. For example, some residence halls offer vacuums available for any resident to use. Check whether a vacuum will be available to you before purchasing one.

Although not required, it can be a good idea to check in with your new roommates as well. Ask if anyone has any particular allergies or sensitivities to certain cleaning supply ingredients. You might find that one of your roommates can’t tolerate the odor of bleach.

Top Cleaning Supplies to Bring to College

Although you’ll definitely need to purchase cleaning supplies to bring to college, you might not necessarily want to buy them before traveling to your new town. Space will likely already be at a premium in your luggage, particularly if you’re flying instead of driving. Before your moving day, spend some time researching the on-campus shops and stores near campus to find out what your options are for purchasing cleaning supplies after you arrive. There are several cleaning supplies available to purchase at the Herd Stop, for example.

When you’re ready to go shopping for your dorm room, consider adding the following items to your list.

All-Purpose Cleaner

This is something that everyone needs, no matter the type of accommodations. All-purpose cleaner does exactly what its name suggests: it can clean almost anything. You may use it on nearly any surface, including your desk, dresser, bathroom and kitchen counters.

Try to select a cleaner that doesn’t have an overwhelming fragrance. A dorm room is usually a fairly small space, which means that cleaning product fragrances can linger in the air for a while.

Disinfecting Wipes

These aren’t necessarily a must-have item, but they can come in handy. You can use them to sanitize your doorknobs, computer mouse and other small items. You might even be able to sterilize your phone with a disinfecting wipe, but check with your phone’s manufacturer first to be sure it’s safe.

Sponges and Scrub Brushes

You probably need sponges and scrub brushes if you’ll be in an apartment-style dorm room, in which you’ll have access to a bathroom and/or kitchenette that you share with your roommates. This is the case for GCU dorm living. Plan on having separate sponges and scrub brushes for the kitchen and bathroom — you should not share these items between these two rooms due to cross contamination.

Trash Cans and Bags

Regardless of which type of dorm room you’ll be living in, you will need a trash can and trash bags. You might also want a small trash can for your bedroom. If you have an apartment-style suite, you might also need a trash can for the bathroom and a larger one for the kitchenette as well.

Bathroom Cleaning Supplies

When writing a list of dorm room cleaning supplies for your shopping trip, don’t forget about essential supplies for the bathroom (unless, of course, you’ll be using a communal bathroom cleaned by a school janitor). There are no communal bathrooms in GCU's housing, so here's a list of what you'll need:

  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Toilet spray cleaner
  • Toilet brush
  • Plunger

Laundry Detergent

Some college students bring dirty laundry home to launder, however, that is only applicable to students with a car and a close commute. For many, that is not the case. If home is far away and visits are few and far between, you’ll need to plan on doing plenty of laundry on campus.

Many people like using liquid detergent, but this can be too bulky and cumbersome for college students. Instead, consider using pod detergents or any other pre-measured laundry detergents. These items can also help you avoid using too much detergent per load.

Similarly, skip the big bottles of fabric softener and stain treatment. Instead, you can opt for dryer sheets and smaller stain treatment “pens.”

Floor Care Items

As previously noted, determine ahead of time how you will secure a vacuum, whether it is brought by you, a roommate or provided by the dorm. Consider a small stick vacuum which can get the job done at an affordable price.

If you’re staying in a traditional dorm room, it might be entirely carpeted. Apartment-style suites with their own bathroom and kitchenette will likely have some hard floor surfaces. In this case, you should consider purchasing a broom and dustpan or a microfiber sweeper, along with a mop.

Items to Maintain Air Quality

Some people love the scent of air fresheners, others do not. Some people are also sensitive or allergic to these products. It’s always best to check with your roommates before you purchase an air freshener for your dorm room. If your roommates are agreeable to the idea, consider getting an odor neutralizer spray that does not have a fragrance.

Similarly, if you do have allergies or asthma, you may want to consider investing in an air purifier. Dorm rooms are typically small, enclosed spaces, and the air quality can suffer as a result. An air purifier can keep the air cleaner, healthier and better-smelling. For greater cost-savings, look for one with a filter that can be cleaned, rather than one with filters that require replacement.

Miscellaneous Cleaning Supplies for Dorm Rooms

In addition to the items listed above, there are a few miscellaneous items that may come in handy. Consider purchasing the following:

  • Paper towels
  • Dish towels
  • Dish soap
  • Hand soap for the bathroom (if applicable)
  • Glass cleaner
  • Lint roller (for your clothes)

Tips for Cleaning Your College Dorm

For many students, their freshman year of college is the first time they’ve had to be responsible for certain things, like establishing a cleaning schedule and sticking to it. At the start of the year, talk to your roommates about who is going to be responsible for cleaning what. It’s often a good idea to trade off responsibilities so that no one gets stuck cleaning the bathroom every week. Consider drawing up a schedule that indicates who will clean what and when.

In addition, follow these tips to make it easier to keep your space clean:

  • Deep clean your dorm room upon moving in, before leaving for a long break, and before moving out.
  • Always toss dirty clothes in the hamper and do laundry regularly (ideally, before you run out of clean socks).
  • Make your bed every morning. Doing so will make the whole room look neater.
  • Toss out all waste immediately and empty the trash cans regularly.

At Grand Canyon University, we offer suite-style residence halls and apartments for our students, along with attractive amenities like heated pools and on-campus restaurants — it’s hard not to fall in love with campus life at GCU. Fill out the form on this page to learn more about enrolling in our degree programs and joining our learning community in Phoenix. 

Approved by the assistant vice president of GCU Marketing on Oct. 13, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.