College students in the area will return to campus over the next few weeks to begin the fall semester.
Some students will move into on-campus dorms and have roommates, making them responsible for keeping their living space clean.
The American Cleaning Institute aims to help with that idea as it recently published a guide and toolkit giving incoming students advice.
This is the second installment of this guide, an initial idea motivated by students returning to campus for the first time following the pandemic.
“Given that students hadn’t perhaps been on campus for a while, we thought it was important just to have a useful guide to cleaning and laundering for college students,” said Brian Sansoni, ACI senior vice president of communications, outreach and membership.
The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research, a research firm ACI works closely with that specializes in surveying communities across the country. They surveyed 500 US college undergraduates between June 9 and June 17, using email invitations and an online survey.
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The cleaning expert group wanted to get a sense of the students’ habits, overall thoughts and attitudes towards cleaning.
Courtney Kelsey, director of housing and residence life at the University of Lynchburg, said with the pandemic, staff have seen an increase in the use of Clorox wipes and students packing them among their belongings.
“Students are coming prepared with cleaning supplies in ways that we may not have seen. That has actually been a silver lining from the pandemic,” Kelsey said in an email.
According to the survey, 92% of college students recognized that a clean room helps them feel their best both mentally and physically.
The study also showed nearly 75% were less than completely prepared to clean on their own upon arriving at college and 50% of the participants cited a lack of time.
“If we can help provide just some basic advice to do it the right way, that’s one less thing that they have to worry about,” Sansoni said.
Dusting, laundry and disinfecting surfaces are the most important things to consider, according to Sansoni. The senior vice president suggests that students should set a reminder once a week and find a small time frame within their schedule to do those three things.
An important area to keep track of is the bathroom, because everyone living in the dorm or housing will use that area multiple times per day.
In the cases where students have communal bathrooms, the college janitorial staff will work to keep the area as clean as possible. However, Sansoni said if students notice anything, they should suggest something to their resident assistant.
“That is a space you are using a couple of times a day and that’s where a bit of sloppiness can show up,” Sansoni said. “If you do have a bathroom that you are sharing in your space, that’s where I think one of the most important places to regularly clean to avoid conflict.”
The toolkit also gives advice on how to be a good roommate. Sansoni said as a roommate, a student can convey they care about cleaning if housemates see them take the time out to clean once a week.
He suggests simple tasks such as cleaning up after yourself and keeping your area of the dorm clean can be helpful. If your roommate gets sick, you should try to disinfect more often.
In the survey, 71% of survey respondents argued with roommates over how to clean.
Kelsey said many of the University of Lynchburg’s roommate conflicts do not necessarily relate to cleanliness or lack thereof.
However, as a staff they encourage students to have conversations regarding their expectations for the shared space and complete living agreements. They want students to clearly outline those expectations and accountability measures for when those expectations are not met.
“Cleanliness is a key part of those conversations. We encourage students to develop expectations around keeping spaces tidy,’ Kelsey said in an email. “We find these conversations to be particularly crucial in our apartment and townhouse residences where students are cleaning their own kitchens. and bathrooms, which often leads to more trash.”
The survey showed 20% of students say a lack of cleaning supplies or cleaning knowledge prevents them from keeping tidy while 53% cited a lack of motivation.
The cleaning materials Sansoni suggested for students are portable hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, laundry detergent, cleaning wipes and dust sheets to dust surfaces and floors.
He said it’s simpler for college students to clean today than it ever has been. Having basic cleaning supplies and building small habits is key.
“It is about learning great habits that can last a lifetime,” Sansoni said.