Wondering what are some helpful dorm essentials? Here is the list of all the top college dorm must haves you’ll want to pack right away!
Going to college has its own perks. Moving into a dorm though.. is a whole different thing no freshman is ready for 😂. Luckily, I have suffered my days in dorms and I have just the best of the best college dorm must haves for you to see!
These are the things I wish I knew about when I was moving into my dorm. So, if you are looking for important dorm essentials that you will actually use, you have come to the right place!
From bedding, bathroom, kitchen, to organization must haves to even unexpected things to bring to college, here are 47 dorm must haves you’ll love throughout your college days!
DORM BEDDING MUST HAVES
1. Mattress Topper
Here’s something you need to know: dorm beds are the MOST uncomfortable thing you’ll ever come across. So, having a foam mattress topper on top is an absolute college 👏 dorm 👏 must 👏 have!
I cannot stress this enough but sleep in college is super important so if there’s anything you should splurge on when dorm shopping, it should definitely be a mattress topper!
I had this mattress topper over my flat dorm mattress and it honestly made it so much better. The gel-infused system was a plus that made it even more comfortable and I always slept like a baby!
I recommend getting a 3-inch one in Twin XL (most dorms are Twin XL). Makes a hugeee difference!
For college, you’re going to need a new pair of sheets. I recommend bringing only 2 pairs so when one is in the laundry you can use the other.
Honestly, this is what I did for my dorm and there were days I was too lazy to do my laundry, so having an extra pair in hand was a life-saver.
These simple, sleek ones from Amazon have a cult following and you’re bound to love these for your dorm!
Comforters are another college dorm must haves to pack. Amazon, Target, and Bed Bath and Beyond are great places to shop but it really doesn’t matter where you get it from as long as it’s a good quality one since you’ll be using it everyday.
I had this comforter set in Twin XL which was perfect for my dorm. But do check your dorm bed to make sure you get the perfect size!
4. Sleeping Pillow
To make sure you get the perfect sleep in dorms, pack a really comfy pillow. I’m talking about the i-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed kind of pillow 😜.
You will love this pillow as it will bring you the right amount of comfort any college student needs while sleeping. Also, don’t forget to get pillow covers to cover on top of it!
5. Throw Blanket
You will love a throw blanket in your dorm! Nothing better than a hot chocolate, your favorite show on and being able to cuddle up in a cozy blanket 😉.
Not only will it act as a super cute decor by the end of your bed, but you’ll also be thanking this baby when it’s freezing outside!
DORM BATHROOM SUPPLIES
6. Shower Shoes
Shower shoes should definitely be on your dorm room essentials list. Trust me, you don’t want to know what or who has been there in the shower before you. Not the most pleasant thing, I know, but this is where shower shoes come in handy!
You can find pretty cheap ones for $2 in Target. My friends and I used these ones that came with holes but really any shower shoes work and function the same so whatever your preference is, go with it!
7. Shower Caddy
It’s almost impossible to carry all your toiletries from your dorm to the bathrooms if you don’t have a shower caddy on you. This will help you store all your products and make it easy to carry things to and from the dorm.
Also! Make sure to get a mesh caddy that you can hang. This is what I used and LOVED. It dries up quickly and prevents any mold and mildew in your stuff.
8. Bath Robe
Because you’ll be walking to and from the bathroom to your dorm with everything in your hand, you’ll be needing a bath robe. It makes it easy to carry your things while making sure nothing falls on the ground.
In my opinion, a bathrobe is much better than a towel wrap and it dries you up quickly. But if you’re looking to buy a towel wrap with velcro that can secure around your body, here’s one under $25 that comes with pockets!
9. Towel Set
Of course you can’t forget to bring towels, make sure to pack some in your dorm essentials list!
This towel set is perfect as it has everything you need (with extra pairs) for showering, drying hands, etc. Which is more than enough, you DON’T need more than these!
DORM KITCHEN ESSENTIALS
10. Mini Fridge
Some dorms usually provide a mini-fridge, so check before getting one! I used mine allll the time and I know few people who couldn’t have survived without one.
If you love your drinks chilled or want a place to freeze your leftover food, you’ll also obsess over a mini fridge in no time!
Also, fridges can be pricey so this is something you and your roommate can pitch in together for the dorm.
Again, check beforehand to see whether your dorm already comes with a microwave.
While this is not really essential, if you are someone who likes to heat up their food or likes microwaved meals like; ramen, mac and cheese, etc. you should consider getting one!
I have linked this retro one from Amazon that is soo adorable and only $90, which is a great price for a microwave this good!
If you are a coffee lover, this single-serve Keurig is the perfect option for you. If not, you’ll definitely become one (college does that to you 🤣).
Oh, and did you know you can do so much more than just brew coffee in a Keurig? Yep, anything from hot chocolate, oatmeal, pasta, and a lot more! Now who can top this college dorm must haves 2023!
13. Silverware and Dish Bowl Set
College dorm must-haves that are pretty self-explanatory.
I am loving this silverware set from Amazon that comes with chopsticks, straw,s and other utensils all in one which is perfect for a dorm!
I feel like this is something EVERYONE forgets to pack for college- me included! There were days (especially during exams) when I wanted to meal prep for the week but had no containers to do so.
Definitely pack 1-2 food containers for college because you’re bound to use them someday.
Just like everything else in the dorm, closets are smalll. Finding ways to maximize closet space in dorms is a crucial part of surviving there (crying emoji). Velvet hangers are amazing as they prevent your clothes from falling on the ground.
And these magic space-saving hangers are game changers that allow you to fit 5x more clothes than you normally could. Isn’t that crazy?! This allows plenty of space for other clothes so obviously this is a dorm room essential for girls. 😜
16. Hanging Closet Organizer
If you want to create more space for other items in your closet, consider getting this hanging closet organizer! You can fit any bulky items like sweatshirts, sweatpants, shoes, etc. in each cubby.
I used these to fit my sweatshirts and towels, and I didn’t even have to worry about not having enough space for other things. This held up all the things that would have otherwise taken double the amount of space in my closet!
17. Over The Door Mirror With Storage
Let’s admit it, we all love to check ourselves out before leaving, but you should know that dorms don’t come with mirrors (no idea why). So it’s important you don’t forget this dorm essential!
What I love about this is that it comes with a secret storage option which is perfect to store all your jewelry, makeup, brushes and so much more! You will love this for your dorm!
18. Ottoman With Storage
Ottomans are incredibly versatile! Seriously. Want a stool to step on to your lofted bed? Ottoman. Want extra seating when friends are over? Ottoman. Want to store extra blankets, shoes, and *ahem* other stuff? Ottoman! 🙌
You get where I’m going with this? This is a genius dorm storage hack that every freshman should have!
19. Under-bed storage
If your bed is lofted, then you might want to take advantage of the extra space under your bed! When it comes to living in dorms, it’s important to utilize every last bit of the space.
Under-bed storage is perfect for keeping seasonal clothes, especially bulkier winter jackets, boots, or other documents you don’t need that often. This one slides down easily and allows more free space in the room for other stuff!
20. Desk Dividers
Nothing worse than having an overflowing drawer and things running all over the place. To prevent that, you’re going to need desk dividers for organization! For school supplies, any dividers work (depending on how many items you plan on bringing).
BUT, I recently discovered these honeycomb dividers that allow you to fit 10 times more undergarments than you normally could!! Have these in your closet drawers to store your socks, bras, underwear, and even t-shirts! A true dorm essential that is functional for many things!
A nightstand by the bed is essential, especially if your bed is lofted. I recommend a nightstand that has drawers like this one so you can get that extra storage in your dorm.
Other alternatives for a nightstand (if you don’t have space for one):
- Bedside Caddy: tons of pockets to keep a laptop, iPad, phone, etc.
- Bedside Tray: holds anything from iPad to laptop you want near your bed.
22. Storage Bins / Baskets
To store miscellaneous items you will need storage bins or baskets. These are collapsible so they can fit into any place. I liked mine under the bed as I had more space down there. But a friend of mine has these in her closet to store shoes and sweatpants.
23. Extension Cord
An extension cord is essential for college students! We have so much tech stuff these days that needs to be charged or plugged in. But the problem is that dorms have limited outlets and are often in the weirdest places.
… Not to forget you have to share them with your roommate. So, do yourself a favor and get an extension cord! I like this one because it has 3 USB cords and is surge-proof (safe for dorms).
24. 10ft Phone Charger
Another one of the college dorm must-haves that will literally save your life! You probably already packed your charger but I’m telling you, you’ll need this in the dorms!
When you want to use your phone in bed but realize it’s not charged, this 10ft charger will come in handy because it is super long and goes anywhere (aka dorm outlets that are at the weirdest place)!
They’re also great to have in backpacks when you’re going to the library or somewhere else. Truly an essential every college student must have with them!
Omygod, please include a fan as top 3 things to bring to your college packing list. Especially if you’re going to college where the weather is unpredictable.
Dorms get HOT real quick and the air conditioning over there is pretty bad. I couldn’t sleep without a fan and if you are anything like me, you won’t be able to either.
When it’ll be 50+ degrees outside (or when dorms decide to shut down AC without notice), you and your roommate will thank this item. This is also something you both can pitch and buy together for the dorm!
26. Sound Machine
Another thing to know about dorms is that the walls are super thin. So, if your next-door neighbor decides to blast music at 2 am, you for sure will be the first to know.
Also, your timings will not always clash with your roommate and they might have to stay up at night when you have to sleep at 10 or vice versa. So, having some sort of noise-blocking machine is important.. for good grades and good sleep 😜.
** Before getting this, check with your roommate and see if they are okay with the white noise. If not, I recommend these earplugs!
Bringing a lamp or two is another essential you don’t want to forget for college. Lights in dorms are usually dim so having a lamp near your desk will provide you with that extra source of light when studying.
I also recommend having a mini clip-on lamp you can attach to the side of the bed when you want to stay up late reading or for anything else when the roommate is sleeping!
28. Clorox Wipes
Every college student’s favorite cleaning supply: Clorox wipes. They are so easy to clean with- make sure to wipe your door handles, drawers, and nightstand with these every now and then!
29. Trash Can
You will most definitely want to bring a trash can with you on move-in day to throw everything away.
A trash can does not have to be fancy, but I do suggest bringing one with a lid cover because in such a small space, the last thing you want is to smell the garbage!
Make sure to bring a vacuum with you to keep your space looking spotless. Dorms usually provide vacuums but it’s a “communal” vacuum which means many other students use it and it’s quite old.
Having your own mini vacuum in your room will also save you the hassle of going to the basement to get one every time!
31. Laundry Basket
Of course, a college dorm must-haves list included a laundry basket. I mean, we don’t want dirty clothes to be laying all around your dorm, right?
I HIGHLY recommend getting a functional laundry basket like this one which doubles as a backpack. Trust me, you don’t want to drag your laundry basket allll the way down to the basement. Too heavy.
I also linked a rolling laundry bag that you can easily move in and out of your dorm!
32. Laundry Detergent
The last cleaning supply you must include in your packing list is laundry detergent for your clothes.
Everyone loves Gain products (including myself) because they do the job and makes your clothes smell really good!
33. Plants & Greenery
To brighten up the room and make it more lively, you’ll need to add some plants as decor pieces! You can keep them anywhere in your dorm; near your bed, on the window sill, etc.
34. Throw Pillows
Throw pillows are a staple decor and a great way to add pops of color to your bed. Amazon, Target, Society 6, and Urban Outfitters (pricey, but cute), have really good ones, so check there!
Have 2-3 of these on the bed. You don’t need more than that as they’ll only take up unnecessary space.
35. Wall Decor
Dorm walls are BLANK. Having some sort of wall decor you can hang is essential to make your dorm go from something out of the 1950s to a brand new, trendy version.
Photo collages are trending everywhere and are a perfect way to cover a huge wall space!! You can easily find ones that match your aesthetic for a really cheap price on Etsy and Amazon!
You may think rugs are not essential but you won’t like the feeling of walking on the cold tiles, especially in the morning!
Plus, they are great to cover up ugly floors and a cute addition to the dorm!
A headboard is a great way to upgrade your bed but I’ll tell you about how I didn’t have a headboard for one semester and regretted it every day.
There were times I used to drop things at the end of the bed, and because I had under-bed storage, it was a pain to reach it. I knew a headboard would have been a lifesaver to keep everything in place like; pillows, phones, AirPods, etc.
In short, getting a headboard is an advantage you’ll love as decor and for its functionality!
38. Pictured Frames
Don’t forget to bring something that reminds you of your home! Moving away from your friends and family is not easy, and you’ll miss them a lot.
Pictured frames of your loved ones are great because you can hang them as a cute decor piece by your bed and something that will remind you of them!
OTHER UNEXPECTED DORM MUST-HAVES
39. Hydro Flask / Reusable Water
Every college student’s holy grail product! You will drink so much more water from this bottle than from anything else! Honestly, I didn’t understand the hype before, but I have it now and I can tell you it’s all true!
I have mine on me at all times. Going to watch a match, library, class… EVERYWHERE. You won’t regret this! 🙌
40. Command Hook
If you are planning to hang something in your dorm, you need command hooks! They won’t let you drill holes so our next best (and only) option is these.
I used them to hang my backpack, purse, and keys and they held them up pretty strongly!
You NEED a Brita! Tap water in dorms is honestly the worst and I was always suspicious of it. With Brita, you don’t have to worry about the water you’re drinking as you can easily filter it out!
42. Makeup Mirror
When I was living in a dorm, I HATED the lightning over there because I couldn’t do my makeup properly. Having a makeup mirror on my desk made it SO much easier to get ready.
If you are like me and have to really get into your face for applying makeup, this LED makeup mirror will be your best friend!
43. Febreze / Air Freshener
I’m telling you this right now: dorm rooms get musty as hell. So having an air freshener is essential to keep the dorm smelling fresh and clean.
You will be needing a toolkit when you’re moving into the dorm to put everything together, but do remember to keep one in the dorm because you’ll be using it all throughout the year to fix a few things here and there with your roommate!
You’re bound to get sick in dorms. Everyone does, it gets pretty normal. So, you will need to pack a few important medicines that’ll help you get through it.
Emergen-C is every college student’s go-to medicine. We survive on this!! Whenever I felt like I was getting sick, I would take one of these. I don’t know how, but this helps a lot! Highly recommend!
Advil, cough suppressant,s and other medicines are also great to have in dorms so you don’t have to make a trip to the pharmacy when you’re sick.
46. First Aid Kit
Most people usually forget this but always have a first aid kit in your dorm! You think you don’t need one until you actually NEED it. There were so many times I would get paper cuts, so having a bandage on hand was something I was thankful for.
One of the most unexpected things to bring to college that never crossed my mind. Don’t make my mistake and remember to pack your rain gear! A small portable umbrella like this that can fit into your backpack is great!
Also, it’s not a good sight to walk to and from the class to your dorm soaking wet from head to toe 🥴.
Moving into a whole different place is not easy. Hope this college dorm must-haves list helped you! Good luck, you got this!!
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