How to keep your dorm clean and odor-free on the cheap

Rocio Hollman

Cleaning is hard. Unfortunately, it’s also necessary to keep your place looking and smelling nice. Wandering the cleaning aisle at the grocery store presents you with a dizzying array of options that are both confusing and expensive. Luckily, you only need a few products to keep things clean, and most of them are both incredibly common and incredibly cheap.  


Vinegar is a great universal cleaner that works for almost anything! It works to clean glass surfaces like windows and mirrors, and is great for cleaning the kitchen because it kills bacteria without putting any chemicals near your food. You can also mix it with water and use it to get salt stains off of leather shoes and bags. The easiest way to use vinegar to clean is to put some in a spray bottle. You can use either regular vinegar or pickling vinegar (which is stronger), or buy pre-bottled cleaning vinegar like Allen’s. Boiling vinegar in your kettle can also help clean hard water residue and microwaving a cup of it can loosen all that gunk in there.

Baking soda

This is another all-purpose product. Keeping an open box in your fridge deodorizes it and it’s also perfect for getting burnt or stuck-on food off pans. Because it’s slightly abrasive, it’s great for cleaning your shower and bathtub along with a damp scouring pad or scrubbing brush. Plus, it’s great for cleaning up vomit residue because it absorbs moisture and smells. And as you may know from elementary school science fairs, mixing baking soda and vinegar creates a foamy reaction — you can use this to clean out small drain clogs.


Ammonia is a harsher chemical and it smells disgusting, but it's good for tougher problems. Because it’s so strong, it needs to be diluted with water before use. Put ammonia solution in a spray bottle and it’s perfect for greasy spills, messes in your kitchen and soap scum in your bathroom. If, for some reason, you have a moth problem, ammonia will repel them. It’s also great for removing bloodstains from your clothes or sheets — spray some on, let it sink in and then wash the stains right out. A warning: NEVER mix it with bleach because together they create a dangerous gas.

Oxi Clean and Resolve Oxi-Action powders

Oxi Clean and Resolve Oxi-Action are both useful for many things, especially laundry. They contain enzymes that eat protein, so they’re perfect for getting rid of blood, sweat, tears and any other bodily fluids you might have on your sheets or carpet. Plus, the cleaning agents in Oxi Clean and Resolve mean they’re great to use other places like the kitchen or bathroom.

Cleaning rags

If you're cleaning everything with only paper towels, you're doing it wrong. To clean better and help save the environment, use rags instead. They’re durable so they can withstand more intense scrubbing and they’re reusable, so you’ll spend less money on paper towels. You can buy special microfibre cloths from the store or you can make your own by cutting up old t-shirts! They’re easy to clean too — just rinse them out and throw them in the washer.

Air Sponge

Okay, so you probably don’t already have this, but it’s life-changing. Febreze claims to eliminate odors instead of covering them up, which is unfortunately a lie. Luckily, Air Sponge actually does get rid of bad smells. You can buy it in spray format, or as a can that sits in your bathroom or kitchen and quietly absorbs odor.