20 Essential Things to Buy for College Dorms

2 months ago

Moving into a college dorm is an exciting time for a young person. For most, it’s the first taste of freedom of living with peers instead of with family. And for families helping to make the move, it is essential to have a checklist of things you need for college dorm life. Once you have your list, you can budget, plan color themes, and coordinate with the new roomie!

Top 20 College Dorm Room Essentials

Whether you are a freshman, transferring to a dorm after studying elsewhere, or just living in a dorm room for a summer program, here are 20 items to quell any panicked “What do I need for my dorm?!” pre-move in thoughts:



Although a dorm room is an ideal place to hang out and study, its primary purpose is a place to sleep. So first on your list of things to buy for college dorms is bedding. Make sure to get the right size bedding: many U.S. dorm rooms require twin XL size mattresses. Don’t forget the pillowcases and all your bedding accessories, too.

For example, this nautical-style blue bedding set with gray stripes comes with a reversible comforter, a sham, a fitted sheet and a flat sheet, a pillowcase, and a cozy throw blanket. This all-inclusive bedding set also comes with bathroom towels in deep blue: two bath towels, two hand towels, and two washcloths.

Bathroom Shower Tote

Shower Caddy

Most freshmen use hall-style dorm bathrooms, which means a shower caddy is necessary. Put your shampoo, conditioner, razor, soap, and all other bathroom essentials inside so you are prepared for the trek to the showers. The caddy will probably get wet when resting on the bathroom shelf or floor, so a plastic tote is best. 

Inside this caddy are nine compartments to prevent smaller items from getting lost or jumbled around. Stay organized with a shower caddy! Pro tip: to make sure your caddy doesn’t get confused with someone else’s, tie a ribbon or string around the handle!

Mini Fridge for Bedroom

Mini Fridge

What you need for college to optimize your dorm room experience is the classic mini fridge. Whether you are big on dining hall leftovers, or prefer to make your own food in a microwave, a mini fridge is very helpful to have in your room. First, check with your roommate if they would like to share a mini fridge with you, as you will save space in your room if the both of you share one. This fridge is portable, so moving it in and out the dorm room will be a breeze at the beginning and end of the year.

This white mini fridge is unique for several reasons. You can switch it to the warming function if you would rather use it to keep your leftovers warm. Or use it not for food at all, but instead to keep medication or skincare refrigerated. Finally, this mini fridge’s door doubles as a magnetic whiteboard! Doodle, create a to-do list for yourself, write a motivational quote of the week, or leave funny notes for your roommate!

Pillow Slippers

Shower Sandals

Like the shower caddy, shower sandals are a must for communal dorm-style bathrooms. These quick-dry, open-toe sandals quickly slide on and off for maximum convenience. The non-slip sole means you will be prepared for any bathroom environment. You can’t get any more comfortable than these ergonomically designed, cloud-like waterproof and washable slippers. 

There is a reason these unisex shoes are called “pillow slippers” – they are certainly a step up from flip flops. Plus, you won’t wake your neighbors squeaking down the hallway with these shoes!

Countertop Microwave Oven


Wondering what to buy for a dorm room to make your college life just a little bit easier? Get yourself a microwave and your future self cramming for that exam will thank you! Long nights are a part of the college experience, whether it’s studying or going out on the town. Having food in the mini fridge that you can warm up will be a lifesaver when you need a bite to eat after the dining halls have closed. Do yourself a favor and have an easy way to get a snack before bedtime from the comfort of your room.  Just don’t be that person who sets off the fire alarm at midnight from making popcorn!

This microwave is compact with an energy-saving eco-mode. Again, ask your roommate if they have a microwave. Perhaps one of you can contribute a microwave, and the other can bring a mini fridge.

Chunky Knit Blanket Throw

Throw Blanket

In addition to adding some decorative flair to your bedding set, a throw blanket (or two) is the perfect study or nap companion. It is essential if your roommate prefers the room to be cooler than you’d like. Or take the blanket with you to stay cozy as you study in the lounge down the hall. Either way, every student needs a bit of comfort to keep them feeling at home, away from home.  

This chunky cable-knit blanket in navy blue is machine washable and handwoven from vegan materials. Grab some tea and you’re all set for a cozy night in with this super soft, extra large throw blanket.

Compact First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

When it comes to what you need for college dorm safety, a first aid kit is absolutely an essential item. This portable compact kit with a waterproof case can also be taken camping, hiking, or any adventure, so keep one in your dorm room and one in your car. A whopping 228 pieces miraculously fit in this little box, including various bandages, cotton swabs, a whistle, scissors, and even an emergency foil blanket. 

Learn how to use these supplies ahead of time so you can keep a cool head if it comes time to use them. Whether a natural disaster strikes or someone takes a tumble, a first aid kit gives peace of mind in case of any emergency.

Photo Clip String Lights


Now the fun part: decorating your dorm room! College is one of the best times of your life, but it can also be one of the hardest. That’s why it’s important that you decorate your room to make yourself feel more at home. One idea is to string this set of fairy lights up on your wall. It comes with 50 clips to display photos, and 50 lights, totaling to 17 feet long. Display photos of loved ones, or of things that remind you of your future goals and ambitions. 

Clip Polaroids, magazine cut outs, or anything colorful or inspiring to look at every day. This type of visual aid creates an inviting and personal atmosphere in your home away from home. If you’re ever feeling homesick or blue, simply look up and see the smiling faces of your friends and family.

Backpack Laundry Bag

Laundry Bag

Next up on the dorm essentials list is a laundry bag. Part of the college dorm experience is using communal laundry facilities, like the bathrooms. If college is your first time doing laundry for real: never fear. There are instructions displayed in the laundry room, and you can always ask for help. You will need a durable laundry bag to transport your dirty clothes down to the washers and dryers, and transport them back up when clean. This bag can be hung as a hamper to collect clothes throughout the week. 

This nifty laundry bag includes an extra drawstring mesh pocket on the outside to store detergent. The bag is actually a hands-free backpack, so you can easily open the door for yourself on your way down to the laundry room. This bag will come in handy if you live in an apartment with communal laundry facilities later on, too. It can hold up to three loads of laundry and the nylon bag itself is machine washable as well.

Clock Radios, Projection Alarm Clock

Alarm Clock

Waking up in time to get to an early morning exam is one of the most important – and at times, difficult – parts of college. Don’t risk using your phone in case it doesn’t charge overnight, or in case you accidentally set it for P.M. instead of A.M. (We’ve all been there!). 

This alarm clock has all the bells and whistles to reduce the chances of you sleeping through it. Set multiple alarms using different sounds and at different volumes. Project the time onto the ceiling or wall! Its large display is easy to read even before you put on your glasses. Set a sleep timer for naptime. This clock has got adjustable brightness, FM radio, and a USB charging port.

Mubarek LED Desk Lamp

Desk Lamp

No college room essentials list is complete without a dependable desk lamp. When sharing a room with a roommate, you may need to keep studying when they are asleep. Whether you’re a night owl or early bird, you need to keep the peace by turning the ceiling light off when your roommate is asleep and using a personal desk lamp instead. 

Set yourself up for success with a dependable desk lamp. This LED desk lamp with adjustable brightness also includes pen storage, a USB charging port, and a phone stand. This quality desk lamp will be useful long past college days!

Cordless Handheld Vacuum

Handheld Vacuum

Dorm rooms are small. A full-size vacuum will take up valuable space, and they’re just not needed for the amount of square footage you’ll be working with. A handheld vacuum is all you need to keep your place clean and tidy. It won’t feel like a daunting task to vacuum with a handheld, because there is no long cord to unravel and no heavy machinery to push around! 

Get dust bunnies out from underneath your desk with this cordless dustbuster. Remove debris from any surface using the included crevice tool and brush. When needed the filter and debris container are washable in the sink.

MAXI Twin Extra Long Mattress Pad Topper Fitted

Mattress Pad

Who says college mattresses have to be uncomfortable? If you’ve got springs poking into your back or a lumpy mattress, a mattress pad is a must-have. A mattress pad is an extra layer of protection between you and a mattress that has been used before. With a mattress pad, you will have a luxurious night’s sleep every night. And you need good sleep to ace those exams!  
This twin size XL mattress pad fits most college dorm room mattresses. It’s got a 100% quilted cotton top for a breathable, soft fitted feel. It is safe for the washing machine and dryer.

Slip Silk Sleep Mask

Sleep Mask

Have a night owl roommate who likes to study into the wee hours? If you are sensitive to light, a sleep mask is a must-have when living with a roommate. This black silk eye mask is like the personal equivalent of black-out curtains. Not too tight and not too loose, this sleep mask is one-size fits all. 

The pure silk material is smooth and gentle on all skin types and won’t absorb face creams. Say hello to serious beauty rest!

Beats Studio3

Noise Canceling Headphones

In the spirit of controlling sensory stimuli, noise canceling headphones are next up on our checklist of things to buy for college dorms. Noisy roommates and hallmates running down the hall at all hours of the night can distract from sleep or study. If you are trying to squeeze in an afternoon nap, or require silence to study, these headphones are a lifesaver. 

These Beats by Dr. Dre let you control the external world by blocking noise with comfortable over-ear headphones. These headphones are also compatible with Bluetooth, Android, and Apple devices for listening to audio in its purest form.

Mini Desk Fan

Desk Fan

Moving in and out of a college dorm room can be hot and sweaty in the summer – especially if your dorm is not equipped with air conditioning. A small fan is good to have as a backup, or to create ambient white noise as you sleep or study. Bring this portable fan with you to study outside in the grass on a hot day!

This desk fan is equipped with three speeds, and runs for hours before needing to be recharged. Charge via battery or USB. This fan comes with a side flashlight in case of power outage.

rash Can Bin

Trash Can

While trash cans are a must for any living space, it’s crucial that you make the most of the space you have in your dorm room. Opt for a small to medium sized trash can that can either be hung in a cabinet or folded into a drawer. This trash bin can rest on the ground or be hung on the side of a desk drawer. It collapses and expands as needed to save space. 

This sturdy trash bin will last your entire collegiate career. Just be sure to line it with a plastic bag and clean it out regularly. Small trash cans will need to be emptied a lot more often, so hopefully your hall has a trash chute!

Small Desk Shelf Organizer

Desk Shelf

One of the key parts of succeeding in college is organization. However, it can be difficult to stay organized in a tiny dorm room. A desk shelf is helpful for creating extra storage and display space on your desk. Stack textbooks, display framed photos, or store toiletries on this three-tiered shelf. Keep your personal and school supplies organized on this easy to assemble shelf. 

Sturdy yet unobtrusive, the two shelves can be adjusted according to your ideal height and should fit any desk. Not to mention, it offers a stylish and minimalist aesthetic to any dorm room.

Terrycloth Bath Robe


Treat yourself to a little pampering and get a comfy and cozy bathrobe for those walks down the hall to the communal dorm bathrooms. For example, this pink terry cloth bathrobe is 100% cotton for ultimate breathability, and comes with deep pockets and a tie belt. Who said bathrobes can’t look good? 

It is absorbent to help you dry off quickly, but will also keep you warm even after you are all dry. This loose-fitting machine washable robe extends past the knee for optimal comfort and coverage.

Twill Breakaway Lanyard


As a college student, there is nothing more precious than your dorm room key and your student ID. Your student ID lets you into school buildings, dining halls, and your dorm building, and you can’t sleep without your key’s access to your room. So it is essential to keep these things safe and secure at all times. One way to do that is to use a high-quality lanyard. 

Hook your dorm room key on this lanyard and keep it around your neck or in your backpack. The long cord makes it easy to find if you are rummaging through a backpack. This lanyard has water repellent fabric and an easy attachment for a student ID as well. Never get locked out again with this trusty lanyard!

Find Your Dorm Room Basics at

College is the time to discover and express yourself, so changing up your dorm room design and layout is normal. But for a good foundational set of things to last for however many years you devote to higher learning, is here to get you the best deals online has everything you need for college, from the practical essentials to the aesthetic touches that make you feel at home. With, set price alerts and best deals online between thousands of retailers from the comfort of your home (or dorm room)!

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