This is a new reality we live in. Mask-wearing, enforced social distancing, and shortages of toilet paper have become commonplace in our day-to-day life. Commercials and advertisements are now encouraging viewers to wash their hands regularly as if people had never washed their hands before. With everything that has been going on, it comes as no surprise that colleges all over the world are taking more precautions to keep clean in order to stay open. 

This isn’t just a job for the staff, though. This may surprise some first-year students, but there is no such thing as a personal maid in college. We all have to take the initiative to step up and get dirty… in order to stay clean. That being said, I have compiled some tips to help students keep their rooms clean—regardless of whether there’s a pandemic going on or not. 

Cleaning Supplies: Hand sanitizer, disinfectants, wipes, etc. (bring extra!)

Aside from your clothes, bedsheets, and school supplies, the next thing to bring to college with you is cleaning supplies—lots of them. Of course, don’t be like the hoarders who clear the shelves at your local grocery store. Take just what you need and no more—but definitely take something. It’s common sense that if you want a clean and organized space, you need some tools to do so. Don’t  be afraid to be the neighbor next door whose room smells like the inside of a new car; that means you’re doing something right.

For specific cleaning supplies, I recommend heavy-duty paper towels, a scrub, glass cleaner, disinfectants, sanitizing wipes, and tons of hand sanitizer, preferably ones with at least 70% alcohol. The CDC also recommends wearing disposable gloves when you are doing your daily and weekly cleaning. Especially when disinfecting surfaces with products that have a high alcohol count, you must be safe with the products themselves. 

Cleaning supplies are like the armor you put on before battling the pandemic-infested outside world

Cleaning supplies are like the armor you put on before battling the pandemic-infested outside world: you have to have them. They’re your first defense in maintaining and cleaning an organized room. 

Set a cleaning schedule

A key ingredient to keeping your space clean is to be organized about it. Setting a cleaning schedule can go a long way in achieving the everyday tidiness your space requires. Once you designate jobs and create a system of chores, I guarantee that if you stick with it, there won’t be many messes throughout the week. 

It also helps if you have a roommate or friend to help you out with your schedule to prevent getting overwhelmed with all the cleaning. Dividing the chores based on a schedule that alternates each week is really the best piece of advice I could give you. Set goals and expectations at the beginning of move-in and be flexible with it, but have that in mind so that when cleaning day shows up, you’re not alone with an impossible list in front of only you. 

Set a schedule, have helpers, and your space will keep clean. 

Do your chores

When I was younger, Saturdays at my house were always designated chore days. I was never allowed to play outside with friends until my chores were finished. Now, I know we’re at college, and there’s no parent or nanny telling you what to do and not to do, but that doesn’t mean that chores can just go out the window. No one wants—or I at least hope no one wants—to live in their own filth the entire time they’re at college. So do your chores. 

To ensure that you do your chores, try creating a checklist. I always feel a sense of accomplishment if I get to check something off a list, even if it’s something as small as “make your bed.” Those little accomplishments eventually turn into bigger ones, like “cleaning the entire bathroom,” and then you’re on your way to having your whole space clean and organized. 

Here is a checklist you can use to make that happen: 

  • Make your bed
  • Dust all surfaces
  • Wash the dishes
  • Vacuum 
  • Sweep/mop
  • Clean the toilet
  • Clean the shower/tub
  • Wipe all counters
  • Wipe all mirrors/windows
  • Take out the trash/recycling 
  • Do your laundry (remember that stinky clothes mean a stinky room)

Remember it all rests on your shoulders to actually do your chores. Take the initiative to do so, and you won’t regret it. 

Pick up after yourself

A little goes a long way. Daily tidying pays off at the end of the week, when you have that long list of chores to complete. This means wiping the counter after you eat, making sure your dishes are always put away, and making sure trash makes its way into the trash can every day.

Maybe you’re a person who likes to procrastinate—trust me, we all are—but in this case, don’t do it. Work smarter, not harder. Taking a few seconds or a couple of minutes to wash each dish so the sink doesn’t fill with plates and glasses over the week is always the better option. No one wants to spend their entire Saturday cleaning up the week’s mess, so clean as you go. 

Organized desk, organized mind

Don’t forget that college is not just a stay-away vacation from home. You’re here to get an education. One of the easiest ways to do that is to keep your stuff organized. Make sure things aren’t getting lost within your roommate’s stuff or getting thrown in the trash accidentally because a piece of paper is crumpled up. Keep a file system and a planner to make sure everything is where it should be. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by college itself, but as long as you keep that desk clean and your calendar organized, so will your mind be clean and organized. 

Wash your hands

Did you know that on YouTube, there are multiple videos on what songs to sing while washing your hands for 20 seconds? Yep. Because there are artistic and creative people all over the world, there are now countless songs you can amuse yourself to while keeping those hands bacteria and virus free. The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, so we must comply. 

It’s pretty straightforward, though. Just. Wash. Your. Hands. With. Soap. And. Water. Putting hand sanitizer on your hands every now and then doesn’t cut it. You touch everything in your dorm—from a door knob to the bedpost to the light switch—so if you want to keep your space clean, wash those hands. 

My three-year-old sister struggles with this one sometimes. Don’t be like my three-year-old sister. 

Clean yourself

This one may come as a gross surprise, but you’d be surprised how many college students forget to take showers every now and then. Yes, you’re on your own, maybe for the first time, but just because your mama isn’t there to tell you you stink doesn’t mean you don’t stink. Take a shower! 

It doesn’t get more simple than that. Just like washing your hands, you must wash your body. Trust me, everyone around you will benefit immensely from it. 

So …

In the early 2000s, there was a detective show called Monk. Monk was a private detective who consulted on numerous cases because he was incredibly observant. However, he had some quirks. He was obsessive–compulsive and had about 100 phobias, those fears being of everything from heights and milk to germs—especially germs. Monk could not shake someone’s hand without using a wet wipe afterwards. He was meticulous about making sure his space was spotless 24/7. It’s funny that in a show like that, Monk was looked down on for being odd, but in the times we live in now, his behaviors are the role models we should be living up to. Washing our hands after every interaction, not getting too close to strangers, cleaning our spaces every now and then to prevent germs from making their homes in ours: these are the things we need to be doing All. The. Time. 

If you want to stay safe in this pandemic, then we must be like Monk. Wash your hands, buy cleaning supplies, and don’t forget to do your chores. In the words of that famous detective, “Wash your hands. You’ll thank me later.”