Most people don’t put a lot of thought into picking out the right laundry bag, basket or hamper for use in a dorm room, but they should! The right dirty laundry receptacle can make a big difference in how your dorm room looks, and make the dreaded chore of doing laundry while away at school a little less horrible. It’s worth it to spend a little time picking out the right style for your needs.
Kate Pawlowski and Ann Lightfoot, the cofounders of Done & Done Home, a professional organizing and move management business, and authors of the forthcoming book “Love Your Home Again,” understand this. “When it comes to dealing with our possessions, the college years are some of the most challenging,” they say. “Dorm rooms are often very small with limited storage space and constantly moving over the span of four years can be exhausting.”
Some general tips to keep in mind when selecting a laundry bag, basket or hamper for a dorm room, or for use in other small spaces include:
- Choose styles that are small, adaptable and easy to store.
- Features to look for are durable materials and sturdy construction, with a smooth finish to prevent snagging clothes.
- For comfort and ease of use, choose styles that are lightweight and ergonomically designed.
- Where possible, think vertically and use floor-to-ceiling space.
- If space allows, solutions with two or more laundry sections allow you to separate lights from darks, or clothes from sheets and towels, eliminating the need to sort through piles of dirty laundry.
Ahead, with the help of experts, we picked out 16 laundry bags, baskets and hampers that are ideal for use in a dorm room.
$26.99 $16.98 at Amazon
“We often recommend collapsible laundry bags because they work in every situation,” Pawlowski and Lightfoot advise. “This bag is sturdy, has padded rings for easy transportation and folds down flat when not in use.”
$49.99 $41.99 at Amazon
mDesign’s Danielle Dorn, a creative director, and Suzanne Woodrow, a senior merchandiser for soft storage, also recommend collapsible styles. “The collapsible laundry basket is stylish and functional,” they say. “It folds up when not in use, has 360-degree rotating wheels to move a full load of laundry to and from the laundry room and features sturdy handles for easy transport. Plus, it has a lid concealing any dirty laundry for a neat and tidy room.”
$49.99 From $29.99 at Amazon
“For the college student who wants to keep their carbon footprint to a minimum,” say Pawlowski and Lightfoot, “this bamboo laundry hamper is a great choice. It’s made from sustainable materials, has a lid to contain smelly clothes and is well suited for use in a bathroom. It’s not collapsible so it’s better for the student who plans to stay in one place for a while.”
From $29.99 at Amazon
Pawlowski and Lightfoot say, “This laundry basket is one of our favorites because it adds a little style to the often dreaded chore of dealing with dirty clothes! It comes in a multitude of colors, it’s made from sustainable cotton and has handles for easy transportation. It also folds flat so it stores well and can be easily transported.”
$37.46 $34.79 at Amazon
Elle Vernon and Megan Wellborn, project managers at Rubbermaid, selected the brand’s XL hip-hugger laundry basket because, let’s face it, college students aren’t exactly known for staying on top of their laundry — the extra-large capacity provides more space for dirty laundry to pile up.
$42.99 $27.89 at Amazon
For those looking for something smaller, Vernon and Wellborn recommend the standard sized hip-hugger basket. Both styles are lightweight and easy to lift, with a curved design and three grab-through handles that allow you to rest the basket on your hip and carry it one-handed.
From $22.49 at Amazon
“If there is a bit of extra room to have a laundry system in place, we like divided bins that have removable bags,” Pawlowski and Lightfoot say. “Dirty clothes can be sorted into colors, darks and lights. Additionally, the aluminum frame is collapsible so it will be easy to transport after the school year is over.”
$27.46 at The Home Depot
Tote-style laundry baskets can make hauling large loads to shared laundry rooms easier. Vernon and Wellborn recommend the Flex ‘n’ Carry basket, which is large enough to hold multiple loads of laundry.
$68.99 at Amazon
“Occasionally, a laundry basket with wheels is the best solution,” Pawlowski and Lightfoot say. “We like this option because the cotton bags are removable or the entire unit can be wheeled to a different location if necessary.”
$64.99 at Amazon
Styles that allow users to pre-sort laundry were popular among the experts we spoke to. “This double-sorter, vertical laundry hamper makes sorting and organizing laundry simple, separating lights from darks,” say Dorn and Woodrow. “Each section can hold a full load of laundry and is lightweight for easy transport.”
$83.99 $69.99 at Amazon
“This is the ultimate solution for dorm rooms,” Dorn and Woodrow say, because “it doubles as a laundry basket and a closet! The spacious three-bag design offers plenty of space and the four-wheel caster feature offers a 360-degree rotation to make this laundry sorter easily portable without requiring you to lift it when it’s full. The soft fabric construction won’t snag, or tear clothing and the hanging bar allows for clothes to be hung for drying, steaming or extra closet storage.”
$16.99 $13.99 at Amazon
Having a place to toss dirty laundry is crucial in a dorm room, but hampers can take up a lot of space. This hanging hamper can be hung on the back of the door, where it won’t take up valuable floor space but will still be convenient enough to keep you from tossing your dirty PJs on the floor.
$9.99 at Amazon
The experts we spoke to all recommended laundry baskets and hampers, but sometimes a basic laundry bag is what’s called for. Laundry bags lack structure, and can make a small dorm room look messy and cluttered, but they are also inexpensive, lightweight and small, and they can be used to pack items like pillows or bedding when it’s time to move in and out of the dorms. This set of two nylon laundry bags gets top ratings from Amazon users.
From $15.99 at Amazon
Backpack-style laundry bags are another popular choice for college students because of their ease of carrying. This bag can transport up to 44 pounds of laundry, and it comes in a variety of colors including standards like black, gray and beige, and more festive shades like turquoise and canary yellow.
From $12.99 at Amazon
Those looking for a more tailored style, but who prefer a laundry bag to a basket or hamper, will love this set of two washable cotton cloth laundry bags. They can be used on their own or as inserts into a traditional hamper.
$11.99 at Amazon
This small mesh popup laundry tote is sort of a hybrid bag-and-hamper — it has the structure of a hamper with the flexibility and small footprint of a laundry bag. It also has a number of the features our experts told us to look out for: lightweight, durable, collapsible, easy to carry and versatile.