The Ultimate List of Dorm Room Essentials
Do you remember going away to college for the first time? It’s terrifying yet exciting. You’re away from home for the first time and feel unsure about functioning when mom and dad aren’t there to guide you.
But, being a first-time college student is exciting for those same reasons. You will live on your own (with possibly several roommates), shop for your school supplies, meet lots of new people, and make so many new memories.
So, go into college feeling prepared and ready for a new chapter of your life with our ultimate list of dorm room essentials.
Dorm room essentials for high productivity
Hello to all of our highly productive overachievers! For the rest of us, we might need a little push to get as productive as we need to be for school. College is an exciting time, but you have a lot on your plate between classes, clubs, and part-time jobs (not to mention the socializing!). With these dorm room essentials for high productivity, you will be ready to tick off your to-do list.
Desk supply organizer and USB port charging station
Keep your desk neat, and your gadgets charged all at once! A desktop supply organizer with built-in USB ports will keep those pens, notebooks, and tablets orderly and fully charged. Whether you’re using your tablet for note-taking or watching the latest episodes of Stranger Things, you’re ready to take on whatever task you prioritize.
Do you love the idea of a bullet journal or sketching your notes like the artist you are? But, the prospect of losing those notes makes it not worth it? Get a smart pen! In class, you can take your notes directly on your tablet. Just toss your tablet and smart pen into your tote, and you have all your digital books, notebooks, and writing devices in one.
Tablet with a Notes App
Sync your notes across all of your devices with a tablet and a notes app. Use a digital pencil and take physical notes right on your tablet. The best part is that you never lose your notes. Tag your notes with a title like “Math 101: [TOPIC]” and easily find any note you’ve ever taken. Not only are your notes easy to find, but they also back up to the Cloud and sync across your phone, desktop, and tablet, so your notes are available at all times.
Any expert will say that the key to high productivity is, first and foremost, showing up. You can’t have a productive day in class if you don’t get there! So, get a great alarm clock. If you want an alarm clock with a few extra features, there are plenty to choose from now more than ever.
Dorm essentials for good rest
Between the late-night burrito runs and the eight-in-the-morning classes, your limited sleep needs to be high quality. These dorm essentials for good rest will leave you feeling so refreshed you can tap that snooze button instead of hitting the coffee shop before class.
Cozy twin XL sheets
Dorm room beds aren’t known for their comfort, but with the right sheet set, you can pretend you’re sleeping at a luxury hotel instead of a tiny dorm room next to your snoring roommate. Aim for microfiber, linen, silk, or bamboo. They have cooling capabilities for those buildings without AC. Plus, they will last forever.
Add some fluff to the standard twin XL mattress with a mattress pad. It will feel like you are sleeping on a cloud instead of a hard mattress a hundred other college students have slept on!
When choosing a mattress pad, decide what your purpose is for it. Do you want better support? Get a memory foam pad that will form to your body. Do you have allergies? Get a polyester mattress pad that is naturally hypoallergenic. Do you want a durable pad that will last through multiple washes? Get a cotton mattress pad.
Get a mattress topper to improve the feel of your mattress. While a mattress pad adds comfort to the mattress, a mattress topper changes how it feels.
You have plenty of options to get a mattress topper that works for your body. Mattress toppers come in latex, memory foam, polyester blends, feathers, or wool.
When your bed is also your couch, dining room table, and desk, you will want to wash your bed linens plenty! A duvet cover makes that easier to wash because it is a shell that lines a fluffy top blanket. You remove the shell and wash that. Much easier than navigating that unbalanced load problem whenever you wash a comforter.
Add some soft pillowcases to your back-to-school list. Try a healthy material like silk, which is hypoallergenic, regulates heat, and is great for your skin and hair. You might not need it now, but you’ll thank us later when you’re not getting any wrinkles in the next twenty years, thanks to your silk pillowcase.
(Here’s a blog to help develop a small bedroom feng shui bedroom layout.)
Dorm essentials for good hygiene
You are in tight quarters, friend. Between roommates, shared bathrooms, and one kitchen for the floor, you better keep up with that hygiene! We’ve compiled a list of the best products to keep you looking – and smelling – fresh all year.
Shower shoes or flip-flops
This school year, you will likely be staying in a dorm room with – DUN DUN DUN – shared bathrooms. Be prepared with shower shoes or flip-flops to keep your tootsies safe from fungal bacteria that might be living on those ominous tile floors.
Shampoo and conditioner
Don’t forget the essentials! Pick up your favorite shampoo and conditioner to add to your shower caddy. You might not be home, but it will smell like home with the familiar scent of your favorite conditioner.
Add a bath towel to your packing list. You don’t want to be left in those showers without your towel. What’s the alternative? Borrowing one? Ew. Do yourself a favor and add it to your packing boxes now.
You will need more than your shampoo and conditioner to prepare your shower caddy for the big leagues. Add in your other essential toiletries like body wash, razors, deodorant, and skincare.
Don’t be THAT person. The one who never remembers a robe and winds up carefully jogging down the hall to their room in only a bath towel. We recommend terrycloth for the shower because it’s absorbent. But, go ahead and treat-yo-self to polar fleece or flannel for those cold days.
Nothing shows better hygiene than keeping your dorm room clean. Add a covered trash can in your dorm room to keep the area nice and clean. Bonus points if you add an air fresher under the trash can lid to keep the small dorm room smelling fresh.
Dorm storage and organization for close quarters
Let’s be frank. Dorm rooms are small, and you’re sharing the space on top of that! So turn on the Netflix, scroll to Spark Joy or The Home Edit, and get ready to organize like the goddesses of tidiness. We’re sharing the most essential storage and organization products to make your small dorm room feel like a palace.
Squeeze some extra space into your dorm room with bed risers. They elevate the bed, providing extra storage underneath. This extra space allows you to add bed storage containers to stash those off-season clothes.
Tuck your sweaters and winter coats into under-bed storage containers to free up some closet space. You can even use this extra space as additional drawers. Add bed storage drawers and keep your socks where you can find them.
A shower caddy will keep your dorm bathroom toiletries organized and ready to transport to the shared bathroom. Add your shampoo, conditioner, soap, razors, and flip-flops, and you’re ready to go.
Dorm room closet essentials
With a dorm room closet, you either need to be a pro at the capsule wardrobe or be creative with your dorm room closet organization. We’re going to venture that you need to nail your organization skills and skip to the good part: dorm room closet essentials.
Storage containers are essential for keeping your small space tidy. Go all Kon Mori and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If it does, use that tight little Kon Mori fold and add it to your storage bins. It keeps your items orderly, making it easy to find what you need when you need it.
If you’re lucky, you can expect a closet and a few drawers in most dorm rooms. Be prepared for these meager closet conditions with plenty of hangers. We like felt hangers that prevent shoulder dimples in your favorite sweater.
Rolling clothes rack
If your closet is too small, consider adding a rolling clothes rack. Adding a clothes rack can double the size of your closet space. A good option is building a capsule wardrobe and keeping it on the clothes rack for easy access.
Keep your shoes in a neat little row with a shoe rack. If you’re anything like some people, you can only ever find one shoe. And when you really need those shoes, you’re out of luck — both are gone! Avoid this pain by adding a shoe rack to your digital shopping
Hanging organizers are perfect for dorm use. You can organize your clothes and keep them there when you move out for the summer or winter break. Get a hanging organizer with buckles to close and condense your clothes. Then, when it’s time to move out, you add the whole organizer to your luggage or box.
Dorm essentials for good eats (and nutrition)
Healthy eating and proper nutrition are important when living on your own for the first time. These dorm essentials will make it easy to prepare healthy meals in your dorm room. Because some days you do not feel like trudging to the dining hall.
When mom isn’t around to remind you to drink water, you’ll need to remember to stay hydrated all on your own. A vacuum-insulated water bottle will keep your water hot or cold all day and come in large sizes, so you can track how much water you’ve had in the day.
Hydration is your friend!
Give yourself a wider variety of foods. Perhaps even something nutritional! A mini fridge will allow you to purchase healthy, fresh food so you can munch while also staying healthy.
Get all of your fruits and veggie requirements within one meal with a smoothie blender. Add a frozen bag of fruits, veggies, and some (almond) milk to your mini fridge, and you have everything you need for a nutritional meal replacement.
No dorm room is complete without a microwave. How else can you make your mac and cheese or cup-o-noodles? A minifridge with an attached microwave is the best of both worlds because it saves space in that small dorm room.
Dorm tech and appliances all college students need
When textbooks, notepads, and even pencils are all digital, dorm room tech is at the top of the list of must-haves for incoming freshmen. Bust out your (probably digital) shopping list and take notes on the best dorm tech and appliances.
Wake up with an extra pep to your step with a coffee maker (which can also double as a great housewarming gift). We like a single-serving coffee maker for a dorm room. It’s just right for your travel mug and saves time (and money) when you don’t need to spring for Starbucks before those early classes.
Create your own charging station by taking a storage bin and adding a power strip and your chargers inside. Take a drill and drill a hole big enough for the power strip cord. Now, you have a made-for-you charging station that hides all of the annoying cords from sight.
When you’re walking to class or having a late-night study session, you will want Bluetooth earphones to keep you entertained, calm, or happy during all of the little moments of your day. They connect to your phone with a single click, and you don’t need to worry about wires getting tangled in your bag.
Essential dorm cleaning supplies
When you’re living in five hundred square feet with another person (or two), you need to keep that space clean and tidy (check out the best TikTok cleaning hacks for some inspiration). These essential dorm cleaning supplies will make cleaning your dorm room easier than you might think.
Keep your dorm room clean even when you aren’t around with a Roomba® robot vacuum. The Roomba® j7 Series charges itself and avoids objects while still getting your dorm room spick and spam.
(Check out whether any of these smart home ideas will work for your dorm!)
Cleaning product subscription
Never run out of cleaning products with a sustainable cleaning product subscription. You can get green cleaning products without harsh chemicals and over-the-top scents with refillable packaging. Products are plant-derived and are low-to-zero waste.
We especially like cleaning product subscriptions that go beyond house cleaning. Some offer personal care, hand soap, and laundry detergent, too.
If the subscription isn’t the way you want to go, here are some basic dorm room cleaning supplies you want to be sure to have on hand to clean up messes and keep grime at bay (Maybe store these in a handy dandy cleaning kit):
- disinfecting wipes (don’t forget to use these on the doorknobs and remotes)
- air freshener
- multipurpose / all-purpose cleaner
- glass cleaner
- paper towels and cleaning cloths
- dish soap
- trash bags
- toilet brush
- toilet cleaner
- hand sanitizer
College dorm furniture essentials
Dorm rooms are all the same, duplicated hundreds of times throughout the building, but yours can be different. Make your dorm room uniquely yours with these furniture essentials.
Harsh overhead lighting isn’t for everyone. If you want to not look like a zombie and feel the effects of poor lighting like eye strain, headaches, fatigue, stress, and anxiety, spring for lighting.
We recommend soft, warm lighting with LED bulbs. They are sustainable and better for your wellbeing. When choosing lighting options, get desk lamps and floor lamps to give you plenty of options.
Make your dorm room bed stylish with a headboard. You can completely change the look of the bed with a simple headboard. It doesn’t need to attach to the wall. Get one with feet that prop against the bed, so you won’t have any issues violating dorm room rules.
You can also get a headboard cover that adds cushion and style to your already existing dorm room bed headboard.
Clothes and laundry essentials
While you try and make it home once a month or so to do the multiple bags of laundry you’ve accumulated, you don’t always make it. Surprise mom by coming for a visit without a trunk full of dirty laundry with these clothes and laundry essentials.
Are you just leaving high school, entering your freshman year? Laundry is probably fairly new to you. Make it easy with an all-in-one laundry detergent that is foolproof. You can find a laundry detergent that allows you to mix colors with whites, and you won’t end up skipping to class with pink socks.
Keep it simple and get a laundry bag that can do double duty. When you’re running to the laundry room, you don’t want to have to move your clothes from your hamper to a bag to a laundry basket for folding. The laundry is bad enough already! Instead, get a laundry bag that can hang in your closet to use as a hamper. When laundry day comes, taking the bag and bringing it to the dorm laundry room will be easy. No extra work.
A laundry caddy does it all! It starts as a hamper that collapses into a laundry basket with dividers so you can separate your loads. Toss in a few laundry pods, and you can do two loads of laundry in one easy trip.
Dorm room essentials to make college feel like a home away from home
Despite living among many people your age, dorm life can be lonely. You miss home, family, and old high school friends. But, with these home-away-from-home essentials, you can make your dorm room feel cozy and homey even when you’re far from home.
Make your small dorm room feel like a home away from home by customizing the space with throw pillows. Choose throw pillows that feel like you. Do you have a favorite animal? Saying? Pick throw pillows that make you feel comfortable. Heck, you can even get a throw pillow that looks like your favorite pup.
Add some ambiance to your new space with string lights. Nothing feels more festive than a string of Edison bulbs lining the walls.
Make your dorm room feel personal with an area rug that matches your vibe. Do you like boho? Minimalist? Retro? Whatever strikes your fancy, there’s an area rug that will scream your name.
(Here are some minimalist product ideas, by the way!)
Preparing for freshman year
Moving away from home for the first time is an adventure. Adventures are always a little bit exciting and a little bit scary, so prepare your college co-ed for success with this ultimate list of dorm room essentials.
When incoming freshmen feel prepared, all of a sudden, this big change doesn’t feel so big.