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Tips For Moving Out Of Your Dorm Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic

Finals exams are over, summer is here, and it’s finally move-out season at Penn State once again.

However, with many restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, cleaning out your dorm may seem like a more daunting task than usual.

If you’re lucky enough to have received an invitation to collect your belongings, here are a few packing tips and hacks that should help make your trip as safe and efficient as possible.

Before You Visit…

Pack A Mask (And Gloves!)

Penn State mandates that everyone in the dorms must wear a face mask and maintain proper social distancing procedures at all times. Plus, your room will be dustier than ever now that no one’s been inside for a few months. Why not kill two birds with one stone?

Bring Disinfectant, A Bucket, And A Rag

If your local grocery store is out of Lysol (read: it is), you can make your own disinfectant ahead of time before heading to State College. All you’ll need is a bucket of water, some Clorox (or store-brand equivalent), and sheer willpower.

Be careful not to use this bleach solution on fabric surfaces, though!

Coordinate With Your Roommate(s)

Moving out at the same time would be a hectic and potentially dangerous process. Instead, communicate with them about when you’re headed to town and work out different times to move out. Although you might miss them dearly, you’ll be saving yourself the time and the hassle down the line.

Bring Storage Bins

Plastic bins are easy to seal, load in the trunk of a car, and clean once you’re done. They also make it easy to quickly separate items into categories such as desk supplies, snacks, and clothes. Plus, they’re easy to carry!

Use A Tarp

Lining the back of your car with a tarp will help avoid any unnecessary damage to your vehicle’s interior and prevent germs and pathogens from settling into any fabrics. They’re also incredibly easy to clean with a hose once all’s said and done.

Stick To A Plan

No matter how big your dorm is, getting in and out of the building in a timely manner is key. It’s helpful to pre-designate boxes for specific items and coordinate what larger objects should be cleaned while at the dorm versus smaller items that can be thrown into a bin and cleaned outside after returning home. The less time spent at a possible exposure site, the better.

Upon Arrival…

Crack Those Windows!

Dust carries thousands of microbes and moving furniture and decorations around will surely stir up plenty. Getting some fresh air into the room should help prevent dust buildup and do wonders for your room that likely hasn’t seen any activity in a few months.

Limit Elevator Trips

Given their small size, there’s really no such thing as social distancing in elevators. To give yourself some much-needed breathing room, try to cut down on elevator trips when possible. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to wait for the next elevator if you’re already inside. Remember to be cautious but courteous at all times.

Dust & Disinfect

Cleanliness is next to godliness, especially when you’re in the middle of a global pandemic while cleaning out a dorm room. Do your best to clean items as thoroughly as possible before packing them into your car or unpacking at home. Although it’s a hassle, sanitizing will do wonders to help bring fewer germs home with you.

Everything Is Laundry

When packing up your clothes, it’s easiest to take everything off of its hanger and throw it in a few trash bags. Don’t worry about folding. Once you’re home, you can just dump your clothes into your washing machine one load at a time and make sure everything gets cleaned before you can wear it again.

Double, Triple-Check

Before leaving, check behind your furniture and fridge to make sure you didn’t leave anything behind. Given you’ve only got a two-hour window to pack everything up, being thorough is key. You’d be amazed at how many “missing” items and how much loose change you’d find.

If you forget something, try to work with your roommate and see if they can mail it back to you. Cross your fingers you’re the one packing up first.

Return Your Key

Seriously, don’t forget to bring your key back. After patiently waiting for more than two months to pack up, the last thing you want is to need to turn around on 322 to bring your key back (or don’t and risk paying a $65 fee).

Air It Out

After returning home, be sure to move everything into the garage or a covered patio — somewhere without traffic where your belongings can rest for a while. Viruses can survive on surfaces anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Leaving them in their own type of “quarantine” will help you reduce the risk of exposure when unpacking those items into your home (or your storage unit).

Helpful Packing Hacks

  • Did you use Command Strips or 3M tabs on your walls and realize they’re stuck? No problem. For easy removal, heat the strip with a hairdryer for 10 to 15 seconds. Using high heat will cause the glue to melt and loosen from the wall. Take a piece of dental floss and slowly slide it behind the strip so it comes off smoothly. You may need to reheat the strip partway through if there’s too much resistance from cooling. Your RA will never know.
  • Stay organized by working in sections when packing up your stuff. It may be easiest to remove the bedding first so you can use the bed as an extra workspace to organize things on. Once that’s done, pack clothes, shoes, desk supplies, food, decorations, etc.
  • If you kept dishes in your common area (clean or dirty), take them home with you.
  • Bring a speaker with you to blast some tunes while you pack. It’s a lot more fun than silence.

Above all else, be smart when packing your belongings. Adhering to proper health guidelines will make things run more smoothly for yourself as well as your neighbors.

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About the Author

Meredith Lea

Meredith “Deedle” Lea is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. You can find her hanging out with her ZTA sisters, eating Canyon pizza, or playing the saxophone somewhere in the Blue Band. Follow her on instagram @meredee.lea or on twitter @meredeed.

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