Dorm IQ #14 | How To Organize Your Dorm Closet

March 11, 2024

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Ideas and tips for how to organize your dorm closet

As discussed in prior dorm storage Dorm IQ Topics, maximizing your small space in a dorm is so important, and maybe the most important area is your dorm closet! This is especially true if you’ll be far from home and bringing three seasons’ worth of clothes, shoes and accessories.

To create an organized dorm closet plan, you’ll need to know what kind of closet space you will have. If you can’t find this on your school’s housing page, see our other recommended ways to research your dorm room.

Common types of closets found in dorm rooms include:

  • An actual closet with a door – your own or shared
  • An open nook with a hanging rod – many hang a curtain in front
  • A rolling or built-in wardrobe unit.

Dorm Closet Organization Options

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you think about what you will need to organize your dorm closet.

1) Do you need more hanging space than folded clothes space?

If you have a ton of things to hang up including coats and jackets, consider doubling your hanging space with a closet rod doubler.

2) Do you have more folded clothes than hanging clothes?

In this case, you may want to add hanging fabric shelves to your closet rod, or if you are raising your dorm bed, consider adding additional drawer space as under dorm bed storage.

3) Do you have more shoes than hanging clothes?

The shoe hounds among us should consider shoe racks or shoe storage boxes at the foot of the closet and/or additional shoe storage to place under the bed. There are also hanging shoe shelves to consider in lieu of a little hanging space.

4) How often will you do laundry?

This will dictate the size of your laundry hamper. Can you get away with a narrow option, or do you need a double bin to separate white and darks? The laundry hamper will sit on the dorm closet floor, so consider this before planning shoe shelves side to side.

Hanging Organizers For dorm Closets


Let’s start with something everyone will need to bring to college – hangers.

In our early days running the Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook group, we recommended slim velvet hangers. While these help keep garments from falling to the floor, the texture became a roadblock to hang and remove clothes from hangers. So how do we make it easier for college students to keep their clothes hung up while still conserving space and keeping things from slipping to the floor?

The slim non-slip hangers check all of the boxes.I call these the “they thought of everything” gangers. Here’s why these are so great, not just for dorms!

  • Space-saving thin profile.
  • S-shape design allows easier hanging and removing so as not to stretch collars.
  • Non-slip texture on shoulders for shirts and on center bar for pants.
  • Smaller bar for ties or scarves.
  • Small hooks for strappy tops or accessories.

Hanging Storage For Small Dorm Closets

Here is where you need to consider how much space you need for hanging clothes along with these other options.

Hanging space doubler – Add a second curtain rod below the main rod to double your space.

Hanging shelf organizer with hanging rod below – If you need a few more shelves for folded clothes without taking up short-hanging item space, this is the perfect solution.

Hanging leggings organizer – For the athleisure enthusiast – hold 24 pairs of leggings on one hanger!

Hanging tank top/sports bra organizer – With this set of 2, you can hang all of your tanks on one and sports bras on the other.

Jumbo Hanging Storage Shelves – For those who have more folded clothes than hanging clothes. This is 15″ wide.

Hanging shoe organizer – 10 shelves for 10 pairs of shoes plus side pockets for small accessories.

Hanging jewelry organizer – No room anywhere else for jewelry storage, this bag will take up very minimal space in your closet and is easy to throw a bag for travel.

Floor Storage in the Dorm Closet

For a wardrobe or smaller closet

To maximize minimal floor space, see if you can find out the interior measurements of the closet. With that information, you may be able to fit some of these small closet floor solutions:

Stackable shoe shelves – You may be able to fit a few of these stacked on top of each other depending on how low your clothes will hang.

Foldable shoe storage box – This is a great option for someone with a lot of flats and sneakers.

Acrylic shoe storage boxes – You may not be able to fit many of these in a small closet, but if you have some favorite shoes to keep in great condition, these are an option.

Don’t forget to leave space for your laundry hamper!

For an open closet with good floor space

In addition to the options above, you may have room for:

Stackable drawers – Utilize that extra floor space with more drawer storage for accessories, undergarments, socks, flip flops and more. For an open closet, choose the darker color fronts rather than the clear.

Closet organizer with open shelves and 2 drawers – Perfect for sweaters, sweatshirts, towels, extra bedding and more.

Shelf Storage Above The Hanging Rod

If there is a long shelf above the hanging rod, make a plan for utilizing that space as well. You might want to keep a small folding step stool handy if you won’t be able to reach up to the back of the shelf.

  • Large woven baskets – Large 14″x13″ baskets with handles perfect for extra blankets, bedding, towels, off-season clothes or larger items that need a home.
  • Large fabric storage bins – To hold the same as above. Available as a set of 2 with 3 size options.
  • Bins with lids – Keep it all out of sight with these large 16″x16″ bins with lids.

Over Door Storage Solutions

If you have room on the inside of the closet door for over-door storage, this can be a great use of that little bit of extra space.

  • Simple plastic and fabric over door storage – Simple but can hold everything from shoes to toiletries to snacks or first aid needs.
  • Heavier duty wider over door storage – This is a very sturdy unit we tested with heavy boxes of Damp Rid. This works well on the inside or outside of a closet door or hanging down the side of your over fridge storage shelving.
  • Retractable hanging bar – For the outside of your closet door, this device can help you hang wet clothes or jackets to dry or help layout an outfit to wear the next day. Folds flat when not in use.

One suggestion from experience. If you will be in an older dorm that may have extra thick doors, see if you can find extra wide over door hangers for these storage items. We got to our son’s dorm and realized our over-door storage hooks were not wide enough to go over the top of the door. These 1934 doors are no joke!

Are You Fully Lofting Your Bed?

If your bed is going up, you’ve got an opportunity for storage hanging down! You won’t want to hang your clothes out in the open under your bed, but how about purses, baseball caps or a whole shoe organizer full of snacks, school supplies and odds and ends?

Hang these over-door items from the top of your horizontal bed rail or over exposed metal springs under the mattress.

Purse organizer

Baseball cap organizer

Coat rack with storage baskets


By implementing a combination of planning, clever storage solutions and space-saving techniques, you can easily maximize the storage of your dorm closet. You can also store off-season clothes under your bed, declutter and reorganize regularly to make your closet work for you.


Dorm IQ is a comprehensive learning series covering all of the questions frequently asked in our Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook group. The Facebook group is also a great source for prior years’ move-in pictures for decor and organizational ideas.

All of the Dorm IQ Topics can be found here.

Our complete Dorm Shopping Guide is available here.

Important Tips and tools for dorm and campus safety.


Still have questions? Please comment below, or come ask us in the Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook group. So much great info in the group along with hundreds, maybe thousands, of move-in pictures from 2023 to give you ideas and inspiration.

=> Please share this article with your dorm-bound friends and their parents. I would love for everyone to understand the topics in Dorm IQ before they start dorm shopping!


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Important Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, a lawyer or a financial advisor. Please use this content as informational only and as only one input as you consider what options are best for you and your family. This is not professional advice.

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