12 Easy Ways to Make Your Dorm Room Smell Good Without Candles

No one wants a funky smelling dorm rooms! Here are 12 genius ways to make your dorm room smell good and stay fresh all semester.

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fresh and clean dorm room

Dorm rooms are TINY, and they can get smelly fast.

When you’re eating, sleeping, studying, and socializing in the same tiny room, there’s going to be some odors happening.

Even if you’re relatively clean, smells tend to linger in small spaces with poor ventilation. And unfortunately, most dorm rooms don’t allow you to burn candles.

Luckily, it’s fairly easy to eliminate odors and keep your dorm room smelling fresh.

We’ll go over methods for preventing and getting rid of odors in a college dorm, and we’ll also share easy ways to make your dorm room smell really good without candles.

How To Get Rid Of Odors In A Dorm Room

First of all, you need to figure out why your dorm room smells bad to begin with.

Plugging in an air freshener might work for awhile, but if you don’t find the source of the stink, your dorm won’t ever truly smell fresh and clean.

Here are some common sources of unpleasant smells in a dorm room:

  1. Dirty Laundry
  2. Food Spills
  3. Humidity
  4. Old Food Containers
  5. Trash Cans

Now that we know what could be causing the smelliness, let’s go over some solutions.

1. Keep A Regular Cleaning Schedule

The easiest way to prevent and eliminate bad smells in a dorm room is to stay on top of your cleaning routine.

Here are some tasks you should ideally be doing at least once a week:

  • Change your bedding: A lot of dirt, sweat, and oil builds up in your bedding when you’re spending 7-8 hours in it every night. Wash your sheets weekly and your heavier blankets monthly to avoid gross, smelly bedding.
  • Cleaning out your fridge: Make sure you regularly get rid of old, expired food from your mini fridge.
  • Vacuum: Prevent dust and dirt from building up by regularly vacuuming the floors of your dorm room.
  • Wipe down surfaces: Use antibacterial cleaning wipes to freshen up your desk, vanity, dresser, etc.

Need some cleaning motivation? We love the TikTok trend of doing a “Sunday reset” in your dorm room.

Here’s some inspo:


sunday reset dorm edition 🕺

♬ I'll Be Around (feat. Timbaland) (Radio Mix) – Cee-Lo
@kayabartlett room was in need of a good clean🧼💓🫧 #sundayreset #sundaycleaning #cleaning #cleantok #sunday #rainysunday #cleaningreset #reset #organizing #clean #dorm #dormroom #dormroomclean #satisfying #aesthetic #cleangirl #cleangirlaesthetic ♬ Au Revoir – Sweet After Tears

2. Hang Dehumidifier Bags

If you’re noticing a musty smell in your dorm room, it may be because there’s a lot of humidity.

These dehumidifier bags absorb moisture in the air which makes everything smell fresher and less musty.

Hang these in your closets or under your lofted bed and let them do their job. You’ll be surprised how much moisture they draw from the air.

2. Use Scented Trash Bags

I always used scented trash bags in my dorm room and it helped SO much with keeping it smelling good.

They smell nice AND they cover up the gross smells of whatever is in your garbage.

I love that they don’t give off a super strong smell so they won’t interfere with any of your air fresheners.

3. Get A Trash Can With A Lid

A trash can with a lid will help trap in those unwanted scents until you get to taking out the trash.

Combine this with the scented trash bags and your stinky garbage problems will be a thing of the past!

4. Store Food In Airtight Containers

Rubbermaid Food Storage Container,10 Piece Set
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Food smells can be hard to manage in a small space like a dorm room.

Storing your snacks and leftover meals in airtight containers will help prevent odors and keep your food fresh longer.

5. Use Shoe Deodorizing Bags

12 Pack Charcoal Shoe Deodorizer Bags
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No one wants to be the roommate with the stinky shoes in the closet.

Stick these in your gym shoes and they’ll absorb all of the moisture and gross odors!

I have a set of these and I swear they’re magic.

6. Get A Hamper With A Lid

If you figure out that dirty laundry is the source of the stink in your dorm, it’s worth investing in a hamper with a lid.

This will help trap in odors and keep smelly clothes from stinking up your dorm room.

Plus it has a removable inner bag to make it easier to take your clothes to the laundry room.

7. Air Out Your Dorm Room

AROEVE HEPA Air Purifier- White
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Fresh air can work wonders when it comes to getting rid of musty smells. Open your windows and doors as often as possible to let fresh air in.

If you don’t have the option to leave your windows open, I recommend investing in an air purifier.

These gadgets remove dust and allergen particles that can cause odors in dorm rooms.

Ways To Make Your Dorm Room Smell Amazing

Now that we’ve identified the source of the gross smells, we can focus on adding in nice smells to our room!

You typically can’t light candles in a dorm room, but here are some other genius ways to make your dorm room smell good.

8. Use a Plug In Air Freshener

Plug in air fresheners are one of the most effective ways to keep your dorm room smelling nice.

But you need to be careful to pick ones that won’t be too overpowering in a small space.

I find that the Botanica by Air Wick plug ins smell amazing without being too overwhelming or perfume-y.

[RELATED: 21 Dorm Cleaning Supplies Every College Freshman Needs]

9. Run an Essential Oil Diffuser

One of my favorite ways to make your dorm smell good without candles is to run an essential oil diffuser.

It adds a nice light scent to your room without being too overpowering.

Different scents also help you with different things. I really like lavender to relax and citrus or peppermint when I’m studying.

10. Get a Wax Melt Warmer

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Unfortunately, most dorms don’t allow candles in the rooms.

I love wax melt warmers because they give off the same vibe as lighting a candle. They also make your dorm room smell amazing.

If you’re a big candle person like I am, definitely consider wax melt warmers as a candle alternative for dorms.

11. Spray Linens With Fabric Spray

Home-Pourri Air + Fabric Multi-Purpose Odor Eliminator
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Fabric spray is a super easy way to freshen up your room and make everything smell nice.

I like spraying fabric spray on anything doesn’t get washed regularly – throw pillows, couch cushions, ottomans, duvet inserts, etc.

12. Stick a Dryer Sheet in Your Fan

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One genius way to make your dorm smell good is to stick a dryer sheet in your fan.

The fan will blow the scent of the sheet around your room and keep everything smelling fresh.

This is one of the cheaper dorm room air freshener ideas because you probably already have dryer sheets.

Just stick the sheets in the back of your fan and enjoy.

[RELATED: 15 College Life Hacks That Will Make Your Life So Much Easier]

Your dorm room is such a small place, and it can easily start smelling bad. It’s always a good idea to know how to make your dorm room smell better without candles.

This post showed you 12 clever ways to make your dorm room smell good.

Looking for more dorm room tips and tricks?

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