Glenn Rasin

By: Glenn Rasin on July 30th, 2019

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Back to School Cleaning: A Custodian's Guide to Dorm Room Cleaning

As summer comes to an end, college students will be moving into their dorms for the new school year. Students, as well as their parents, are excited and expecting a clean dorm room with minimal dirt, odors, or stains. This means you’re likely preparing your custodial staff or contracted cleaning crew to do a deep clean of the campus dorm facilities. 

The impression your facility leaves on students and parents is critical to ensuring they have a positive first night on campus and are satisfied with their new “home away from home”. Parents and students invest a lot of time and money deciding on the best college for them. If they arrive to a dirty dorm, this will lead to unhappy students and can even cause students to transfer. 

The few weeks before school starts are likely one of the only times, if not the only time, dorm rooms can be deep cleaned.

Throughout the year, students or camp and event attendees are living in the dorm rooms, preventing your custodians or contracted cleaning team from cleaning inside the dorm rooms. 

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Since the window for cleaning dorm rooms is so small, it is critical that your janitorial crew or contracted cleaning company, are implementing the most comprehensive and efficient cleaning procedures.

Staff will need to use a combination of the best commercial cleaning supplies, janitorial power equipment, and procedures to keep campus dorms looking great, provide a hygienic and safe environment, and satisfy students and parents. 

In this article, we go over the most efficient dorm cleaning procedures and equipment that cleaning staff should utilize in preparation for the student's big move-in day.



Cleaning a Doorm RoomThe cleaning team should begin by removing all the furniture from the dorm room before performing floor care procedures. 

Most residence halls have a mix of hard and carpeted floors. Both, hard and carpeted floors should be vacuumed before performing any cleaning procedure. 

Hard Floors

Unless the floor has signs of noticeable wear and tear or discolored finish, the floor should be cleaned with an autoscrubber.  Autoscrubbers eliminate the need for the traditional mop and bucket, greatly reducing labor while providing more effective results.  Autoscrubbers have three systems (solution dispensing, scrubbing, and solution recovery/vacuum system) which work in unison to clean, scrub, and dry floors in one pass. They provide a more powerful, faster, and hygienic clean when compared to a mop and bucket.  

Download your FREE copy of The Ultimate Guide to Auto Floor Scrubbers

Small Scrubber in DormIf the floor does show signs of wear and tear, the floor should be scrubbed and recoated. Scrubbing will remove the top coat of finish to get rid of the dirt that has become embedded and will smooth out the areas where daily wear and tear has caused the finish not to shine.

Scrub and recoat can also be performed using an autoscrubber. If no autoscrubber is available, you can use a commercial floor buffer (swing machine) and a wet vacuum. 

Pro Tip:  If little or no finish remains on the floor after the school year, then a complete stripping and finishing will be required to adequately protect the floor.

Carpeted Floors

Mid Size Self Contained

To clean and restore the look of carpeted floors, cleaning crews should use a carpet extractor to remove deeply embedded dirt

Commercial carpet extractors remove the manual labor from carpet cleaning by applying water and chemical to the carpet, and then scrubbing and removing the dirty solution from the carpet. Some carpet extractors can also use heat to help remove deeply embedded dirt. 

Pro Tip:  Hot water extraction is the preferred method for deep carpet cleaning. 

The most efficient carpet extractors are self-contained. Self-contained extractors will eliminate the need to use a wand and greatly reduce the amount of labor required and subsequent operator fatigue.


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The molding around the floor, door, and windows in a campus dorm likely have dirt and dust buildup.  

For baseboards and molding around the door and floor, staff should use a scrub brush and aerosol baseboard cleaner to remove buildup.

For molding around the windows, custodial staff should use disposable wipes or the eight-fold method with an all-purpose (or general purpose) cleaner for soil removal. The eight-fold method will allow custodians to get 8 clean squares of cloth to help prevent cross-contamination of surfaces. Once they have used one square to clean the molding on one window, they should use a different square for the next dorm room. 



Dorm Window CleaningDorm room windows are often covered in dust, dirt, bacteria, and fingerprints. Your cleaning crew will need to complete a thorough cleaning of windows. 

Cleaning staff should use a glass and window cleaner to remove soil and bacteria. Using a “ready-to-use” cleaning product will save workers time. 


Pro Tip: It is best to spray the appropriate glass cleaner directly onto the cloth rather than on the window (or mirror). This will eliminate the overuse of the cleaner which could cause an increase in wiping and lead to streaking.


Walls should have a freshly cleaned look with no buildup of dust, dirt, smudges, or fingerprints.

Walls should be spot cleaned with an all-purpose cleaner and a wiper. 



Any furniture that is provided by the university or that remains in the dorm between students should be cleaned and disinfected. This includes tables, chairs, desks, and wardrobes.  

The entire surface should be sprayed with a cleaner/disinfectant including tops, inside, underneath surfaces, and legs and arms. 

Pro Tip: You need to clean before you can disinfect. Cleaning will remove any visible loose soils, preparing the surface or object to be disinfected. If a surface is not cleaned first, germs can “hide” under soils and reduce the efficacy of the disinfectant. Disinfecting kills germs on the surface, preventing them from spreading. 

For more information on how to clean and disinfect surfaces, check out our article: What is the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting?

Final Thoughts 

Implementing the most up-to-date cleaning procedures and utilizing the most efficient commercial cleaning supplies and janitorial cleaning equipment will ensure your cleaning team is being as productive as possible while still providing the best clean. 

Although your cleaning staff will have limited time to complete a thorough cleaning of dorms, it critical to the satisfaction of students and parents that dorm room hygiene and cleanliness is not sacrificed.

EBP and other Imperial Dade locations have a wide variety of commercial cleaning supplies and janitorial power equipment to help your cleaning staff complete the best cleaning as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

If you're located in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Caribbean, an EBP Specialist can recommend the best commercial cleaning products and janitorial cleaning equipment to help you create the most sanitary campus experience possible.

Download our FREE, Coronavirus Readiness Playbook: 6 Vital Steps to Protect Your Facility, designed to provide you with the 6 vital steps you need to keep your facility protected against a Coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus Readiness Playbook: 6 Vital Steps to Protect Your Facility

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About Glenn Rasin

Glenn Rasin is the Chemical Specialist for EBP Supply Solutions and Lead Trainer for the EBP Training Academy, which offers CMI-certified training courses for supervisory and front-line cleaning professionals throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. He is an ISSA CMI-certified trainer, with over 35 years of experience in the janitorial and sanitation industry.