College Advice

How to Store College Belongings Over the Summer

May 28, 2019

As someone who just welcomed home two of my three children for the summer, I am always looking for advice for parents of college students on how to organize all their college belongings during the summer months.  I literally fell over my son and daughter’s boxes trying to hug them as they walked in the door. Slowly but surely the family and laundry room were inaccessible to anyone who tried to enter. As I looked at the piles of clothes, dorm room decor, and boxes of “stuff” I reached out to Susan for some guidance on how to organize all the college gear to ensure a smooth and orderly repacking in August. As always, Susan provides helpful tips and tricks below to make your life easier down the road.

I’ve moved two of my children to and from college a total of 14 times (so far). Both of my children attend college more than 10 hours away from home. Let’s be honest, when your child comes home from college with all her belongings, it’s a tidal wave of things pouring into your home. You’re both exhausted and it’s tempting to just shove those belongings into a closet or the basement and deal with them later. Don’t give in to temptation. Instead, take the time to organize and pack your student’s college belongings away for the summer. Taking the time now will make moving back to college in the fall much easier and less stressful.

College Advice

So, your student and all her belongings have safely arrived home If you’re wondering how in the world to make packing up the dorm room happen, check out my Moving Out of a College Dorm Organization Tips. Once your student arrives home, it will take you two to three days to clean, organize and pack everything away to store it for the summer.

It’s important to take the time to organize all these belongings so that they don’t get scattered and forgotten for the move back to college. That actually happened to a friend. They arrived back at college in the fall and discovered that the student’s comforter and pillow were still nicely stored away at home.  They had to run out and buy a second comforter and pillow that day.

Taking the time to organize the belongings will also make it easier to store them in your home. Yes, you now have to find a closet or corner of the basement to store all that stuff that your student now requires nine months out of the year. And it will be a surprisingly large amount of stuff. 

Bring Items to a Holding and Sorting Area

You’re exhausted from the move and will be tempted to just stuff everything away, out of the way, so that you can deal with it tomorrow. Don’t do it. Unload everything into the dining room or a corner of the living room so that you can sort through it.

Clean Items

Pull out all items that need to be washed or cleaned before being packed away.

  • Bedding – Wash mattress protectors, comforters, blankets, pillow shams, and sheets
  • Pillows – Clean pillows and pillow protectors
  • Towels – Wash all towels
  • Laundry Bag
  • Coats – Clean before packing
  • Hats, Gloves & Scarves – Clean before packing
  • Shoes and Boots – Wipe down, if necessary
  • Dishes – Clean, if necessary

Throw away trash or recycling. Encourage your student to reevaluate items and remove items that don’t need to be taken back to school in the fall.

Sort Items

Sort items into categories that make sense to you so that it will be easier to find the items you need when you move into and unpack in the fall.

  • Sort by Use
    • Bedding
    • Winter Clothes
    • Office Supplies
    • Dishes
  • Sort by Unpack First
    • Bedding
    • Hangers
    • Storage Shelves or Tools
  • Sort by Car 1 and Car 2
    • Items that you know will be packed in one vehicle or another

Pack in Stackable Boxes and Bins

Pack as much as you can in stackable boxes so that you can store them using more vertical space. This saves storage space over the summer and makes it easier to pack the car next fall.

Pack the categories you sorted together. So, all the bedding is packed together, all the heavy winter items together, and so on.

Label Everything

Label each bin or box with the contents. Identify which boxes are the ones to be opened first. This helps when you pack the car and when you are unpacking in the dorm room in the fall. Labeling also helps you prioritize what needs to be unpacked first when you have limited time to help your student before you have to leave.

Create a Packing Inventory List

Create an inventory, even if it’s just photographic before you pack everything away. List the total number of boxes, bins, furniture, and miscellaneous items. This inventory is invaluable in the fall when you are looking for everything that needs to be packed up and taken back to school. You don’t want to forget anything. An inventory is also a big help if one parent packed things away in the spring and a different parent is taking the student back in the fall.

Bonus – When labeling your boxes, number each one. Put those numbers on your inventory with a description. In the fall when you’re missing one box, you will know that it’s box #3 and has a blue lid or is item #14 and is the vacuum.

Now it’s time to pack everything away for the summer. If at all possible, place all the items together in one location. If it isn’t possible, make notes on your inventory sheet of where you’ve stored the items. Trust me, after two and a half months, you’ll forget something.

Now that everything is packed away, it’s time to enjoy the summer with your child.

Find more helpful tips for parents of college students, Top College Tips for Success and Creative College Care Package Ideas on Organized 31.

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Susan Santoro, Author

Susan Santoro, Founder of Organized31, has moved 25+ times with a family in tow and is one super organized person.

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