Never shared a room with someone before? Let me give you the info you need to have the best college dorm room etiquette!
Living with a dorm roommate is one of the biggest changes for most college students. I know that I didn’t know anything about the do’s and don’ts of dorm life or how to be a nice roommate.
Honestly, a part of me was like, “I don’t want a college roommate” during the summer, but having a roommate honestly helped me grow as a person and learned a ton of communication skills.
But let me give you everything you need to know about living in a dorm, what it’s really like living in a dorm room, and tips for living with roommates in college.
Dorm Room Etiquette Tips
Speak to your dorm roommate.
I know that if you are a shy person or an introvert, this will be tricky. But your roommate can be one of the easiest first friends you make on campus. A simple “Hi, how was your day?” can lead to a whole conversation. Use some of the icebreaker questions for roommates to start the question.
Keep your side of the room clean.
One of the most obvious college roommate rules is keeping your side of the room clean. Be courteous and try to be clean. The worse thing is having to clean up two people’s mess. One of the things I learned from reading Atomic Habits by James Clear is that to do things to combine habits. For example, when you are finished eating, don’t go sit down, then fall asleep. Go toss that plastic plate away right when you finish.
Don’t invite guests over without telling your roommate.
Dorm room etiquette includes telling your roommate about when you want to invite your boyfriend, girlfriend, or friends over. The most embarrassing thing (in my opinion) is not knowing a guest is over and not knowing about it and how to react to them. It’s also annoying is that you planned to relax or study and someone is over.
Be communicative with your roommate, especially about boundaries.
Set your boundaries when first meeting your college roommate. Let them know what you don’t like and what you won’t tolerate. It will save you tons of time and arguing. Have each other on social media and phone numbers to speak about something.
Respect their quiet/study hours.
During midterms and finals, there will be quiet and study hours that your dorm will enforce. Be respectful to your neighbors by being quiet in the hallways and not be so loud that it seeps through the thin walls.
Don’t eat their food (unless they tell you.)
This is one of the biggest don’ts in life. Don’t eat your dorm roommates’ food. A mini-fridge is one of the main shared dorm items, but that doesn’t mean that you can eat anything. Unless they give you permission to eat something, then don’t eat it.
Open your dorm door so other people in the hallway can start a conversation.
Get to know your floormates by leaving your dorm room’s door by using a doorstop. I also used to have a dry erase board on my door and used to ask questions every week to get to know them.
Understand what your relationship is as a roommate (just acquaintances or BFFs?)
If you want to have a best friend as a roommate, make that clear. If you just want to leave it as acquaintances who share a room together, then make sure you both know. It can be overbearing to try to maintain a relationship when the other person doesn’t know what you want out of it.
Ask, do not assume anything.
One of the biggest ways to have great dorm room etiquette is to ask. Do not assume that your roommate likes the room to be set on the coldest setting, ask. Simple.
Don’t leave the bathroom in a disgusting state.
This is a huge etiquette must know because especially in a communal or shared bathroom. No one wants to use a gross bathroom, so don’t leave it with your hair everywhere or with products everywhere. Again, be courteous.
Your RA’s will be annoying but maybe eventually helpful.
Seriously. (No offense to my friends who were RA’s; y’all were the GOATs.) But no, my dorm RA wasn’t the best; she knocked on our doors on a Saturday morning once and also didn’t have a final meeting for our move-out week. We also didn’t get a GroupMe to get to know the floormates better. These were all things my friends who lived on other floors had, btw.
But RA’s will be helpful. They are there to help you out and give you many tips about classes or what to do. I know at LSU, most of the dorms are designed to have people in similar majors together, so your RA will be able to tell you about your majors or what professors to avoid. I think that my RA’s for my on-campus apartments were better and actually useful.
Try to be quiet if you are coming in late at night.
I’m not kidding. I had a dorm with a single bathroom and my dorm roommate moved out hallway throughout the year, but the con of this dorm room was that it was next to the hallway’s door. So I heard whenever someone would open the door and shush each other while drunk.
Be somewhat self-aware.
Check in on yourself and ask if you are being a nice roommate. Consider what your roommate’s boundaries or rules are. (E.g. They don’t like hair in the sink, so try to clean up your hair as much as possible.)
Use headphones or (AirPods).
This is one of my biggest pet peeves in general. But I hate when people are in public blasting their music or loud on a FaceTime call. People always did this on campus. Invest in AirPods (which is my favorite thing that I own after my MacBook Pro) or some basic headphones. This is also useful for studying and for when you are in a busy area on campus and need to hear better.
Dorm Room Laundry Etiquette
Don’t think that I’m not going to mention dorm laundry dos and don’ts. Laundry day is one of the most chaotic and annoying days in a dorm. I’ve lived through some crazy laundry days to the point I didn’t even want to wash my clothes anymore. Here are my dorm laundry room etiquette.
Don’t take other people’s laundry out, even if it feels warm.
Please allow me to rant. I was already having a crappy day one weekend and this random girl decided since my clothes “were warm and felt hot” that she took my clothes out of the dryer. I was literally on the phone speaking with someone and was not paying attention at all. My clothes were still damp.
Simple. Don’t take someone else’s clothes out, especially IF THEY ARE PAYING FOR DRYING TIME.
Free College Hack: Wash your clothes on days where no one is going to (e.g. Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday) but it will vary from dorm to dorm. If you are off during the day, it’s best to do your laundry then, especially when everyone else is in class.
Bring your laundry basket or hamper.
Don’t be that person who holds all their clothes in their hands and drops stuff throughout the dorm. Please get yourself a laundry hamper like this one that I use. Just drag it around and have a space to put your clothes.
Set a timer for when your clothes will be done drying/washing.
Be courteous and get your clothes out ASAP. I would always set a timer on my phone to remind myself to get my laundry out before someone else does.
Clean the lint trap every time.
Always remember to empty the lint trap when washing clothes because it has a possibility of chasing on fire. I know most college students don’t do this and I always ended up doing it whenever I had to dry my clothes.
Fold your clothes either in your dorm room, the waiting room, or anywhere not in the middle of the laundry room.
Not much else to explain, but don’t hog more space. Dorm laundry rooms are small as can be. Don’t take up more space someone else will need to place their stuff. Just fold all your clothes in your room. It’s dorm laundry etiquette.
Buy your laundry supplies in bulk.
This isn’t really about etiquette, but it will help you. Some wash days you will need to wash clothes and will run out of laundry detergent. I used these Tide Pods when I was lived in a dorm because it was simpler and easier to plan out than using detergent and making a mess. Buy in bulk as well because it’s overall a better idea than driving to the store every other week.
Leave the laundry door open or let others know that you are done.
Finally, the last dorm laundry etiquette tip that I can give you is to leave the door open to let someone know that it’s free.
Do you have to stay in your dorm every night?
No, you don’t have to stay in your dorm every night. There were tons of times when I left my dorm room. I didn’t tell anyone but my roommate and friends. I wasn’t going to the front desk and fill out all that paperwork. I usually went home on game days because I wasn’t interested and campus was too chaotic. I also would leave whenever I wanted to (I mean, I’M PAYING FOR HOUSING, so I SHOULD be able to leave whenever I please). I would even stay in my friends’ dorm room. This is college; no one really cares what you do.
What are the rules in a dorm setting?
Dorm rules depend on your campus’s residential department. Common dorm rules are don’t be loud, be respectful, and keep your area neat.
Can cops search dorm rooms?
Honestly…IDK how to answer this one. I know that my dorm has a couple of times when the police were in there. (Literally, my friends and I were walking and my RA and some cops just nodded at us while trying to get someone out of the room.) If you really want the answer, ask your future RA or residential life department. I know that they have to have a warrant in other to search your dorm room without your consent. Just don’t do anything that will make someone call the cops on you.
Can an RA search my room?
Again…honestly IDK. I know that RA’s did checks once a semester to make sure people are sneaking in toaster ovens, heaters, or anything prohibited from being in a dorm that was explicitly told. But the general rule was that RA’s can’t open your drawers. If anything was out and can be seen that was forbidden, then they could confiscate it.
This post gave you all you needed to know about dorm room etiquette!
Before you go, check out these blog posts:
- 80 Questions To Ask Your Roommate Before Moving In
- 16 College Cleaning Supplies You’ll Actually Need
- 8 Life-Changing Morning Habits To Add To Your College Morning Routine