Living on Campus? Make Sure You Have These 42 Dorm Room Essentials

Before heading to college, make sure you stock up on dorm room essentials. Our list covers everything you'll need for a great year on campus.

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by Staff Writers

Updated August 8, 2022

Edited by Hannah Muniz
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Living on Campus? Make Sure You Have These 42 Dorm Room Essentials
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There's no worse feeling than showing up to the dorms unprepared. This is why you should make sure you're ready for college life by packing the biggest dorm room essentials.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

Stuck on what to bring? Our dorm essentials list includes everything you'll need, taking into account cost, quality, functionality, and style. From bedding to school supplies, our college dorm essentials will make sure you arrive on campus feeling prepared.

Price Legend

$ = Under $10 | $$ = $10-$25 | $$$ = $26-$50 | $$$$ = Over $50

Bedding and Sleep

1. Sheets


Our Recommendation: Mellanni Twin XL Extra Soft Cooling Bed Sheets

Dorm beds often come in irregular sizes, so you won't be able to bring a set of sheets from home. Instead, look for twin XL sheets. Our pick comes with a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and a pillowcase. Even better? You can choose from over two dozen colors.

2. Comforter


Our Recommendation: Bare Home Twin XL Comforter Set

Like sheets, you'll need a comforter that fits the extra-long size of a dorm mattress. And since you'll likely spend a lot of time lounging on your dorm bed, you'll want something soft but durable. This comforter set by Bare Home offers an ultra-soft down alternative, giving you a fluffy comforter without the high price tag of down.

3. Pillows


Our Recommendation: Utopia Bedding Premium Plush Gel Pillows

When packing for the dorm, make sure to pick the right pillow. A good pillow can mean a better night's sleep, which can translate to a better academic performance the next day. Check out this two-pack of hotel-quality pillows, featuring breathable, soft material.

4. Blanket


Our Recommendation: Bedsure Sherpa Fleece Throw Blanket

Most college students buy dorm room essentials in the summer. But don't forget about winter. Grab a sherpa fleece throw blanket to keep your dorm room cozy all winter long. It's also great for late-night study sessions at your dorm room desk.

5. Mattress Cover


Our Recommendation: SafeRest Premium Mattress Protector

Dorm rooms typically come with a mattress, but you'll definitely want a mattress protector to put over it. A mattress protector will give you peace of mind — and it might save you a mattress replacement fee if you end up spilling coffee on your bed. This mattress protector by SafeRest is made with premium cotton and is both breathable and waterproof.

6. Mattress Pad


Our Recommendation: Linenspa Gel-Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Mattress pads are all about comfort. A memory foam topper for your dorm mattress can transform a drab mattress into a blissful, hotel-like bed. This mattress pad by Linenspa features 2 inches of memory foam and temperature-regulating gel beads for ultimate comfort.

7. Earplugs


Our Recommendation: Mack's Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs, 50 Pairs

Many college dorms bustle with activity late into the night. This inexpensive set of comfortable earplugs can block out ambient noise, particularly if you're a light sleeper or living with a roommate who often stays up late or snores. You can also use them for travel and at concerts.

8. Eye Mask


Our Recommendation: Alaska Bear Organic Silk Sleep Mask

Dorm room curtains might not block out all light, and your roommates likely won't always go to bed at the same time as you. An Alaska Bear silk sleep mask can block out both exterior and interior light while you sleep or nap. Choose from a variety of fun colors and patterns, including black, leopard print, stars, and dinosaurs.

9. Alarm Clock


Our Recommendation: DreamSky Compact Digital Alarm Clock

Waking up for early classes can pose challenges. This compact digital alarm clock can be a valuable tool in any dorm room. Boasting a discreet design and large display, this user-friendly clock comes with a USB charging port.

Shower and Bath

10. Shower Caddy


Our Recommendation: Attmu Mesh Shower Caddy

You'll need an easy way to cart your shampoo, conditioner, and other shower gear to the dorm bathroom, so consider picking up a shower caddy. This mesh shower caddy comes with eight outer pockets and enough space for everything you'll need in the bathroom. Plus, it folds down, so it won't take up extra space in your bags.

11. Shower Flip-Flops


Our Recommendation: Finleoo Shower Sandal Slippers With Drainage Holes

Never walk barefoot in a communal shower! Instead, buy slippers specifically for showering. These comfortable, anti-slip shower shoes by Finleoo keep your feet clean and avoid getting waterlogged. Color options include dark blue, orange, pink, gray, and green.

12. Bath Towels


Our Recommendation: Utopia Bath Towel Set

Never step out of the dorm shower without a towel. And save yourself between laundry days by grabbing a bath towel set. This Utopia bath towel set comes with two bath towels, two hand towels, and four washcloths. You'll be ready to hit the showers as soon as you get to your dorm.

13. Bathrobe


Our Recommendation: Simplicity Luxurious Plush Kimono Bathrobe

Wear a bathrobe to the dorm shower. Plan a spa day in the dorms. Or lounge in a bathrobe while sipping your morning coffee. When it comes to bathrobes, you'll want a plush option like our pick. It even comes in seven colors.

Laundry

14. Clothes Hangers


Our Recommendation: Utopia Home Premium Velvet Hangers, 50-Pack

While many colleges provide closet and wardrobe space, they don't typically give students hangers for their clothes. To maximize space, you should aim to hang as many clothes as you can. These non-slip velvet hangers can hold up to 10 pounds and ensure maximum space-saving in your closet.

15. Laundry Basket


Our Recommendation: DOKEHOM 18-Inch Freestanding Laundry Basket

Avoid piles of laundry all over your dorm by picking up a laundry basket. And make hauling your laundry to the dorm washing machines easier by grabbing one with a handle and lid. Our pick comes in multiple colors and several sizes.

Storage

16. Under-Bed Storage Bags


Our Recommendation: NestNeatly SmartCube Under-Bed Storage Bags, 3-Pack

Most dorm rooms come with limited storage. If your under-bed area is clear, make sure to grab some storage bags to keep extra clothes and other items. These SmartCube under-bed storage bags come with clear windows so you can see what and where you've stored things. They also come with adhesive tags for labeling.

17. Storage Ottoman


Our Recommendation: YOUDENOVA 15-Inch Storage Ottoman Cube

Space management is important in dorms. This convenient 15-inch ottoman serves as a comfortable footrest or seat while offering additional space to store items such as blankets, books, and games. Neutral color options of beige, brown, black, and gray ensure this ottoman will match any decor style.

18. Hanging Closet Organizer


Our Recommendation: SimpleHouseware Hanging Closet Organizer

Hanging closet organizers are a great way to use small closet space. Put shoes, hats, accessories, and other clothes that can't fit on a hanger in this handy shelving unit by SimpleHouseware. The organizer is also easily collapsible when not in use, making it ideal for students who plan to move into a new dorm or apartment each year.

19. Shoe Organizer


Our Recommendation: AmazonBasics Over-the-Door Hanging Shoe Organizer

Most college students take more than one pair of shoes to school. So how will you store your shoes in the dorms? With limited space, it makes sense to pack a hanging shoe organizer you can hang on the back of a door. Our pick comes with 24 pockets so you can bring shoes for every season.

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Living Space

20. Desk Fan


Our Recommendation: Genesis 6-Inch Convertible Tabletop and Clip Fan

Many dorms lack air conditioning. A fan with adjustable heights and speeds can help you stay cool, even during the hottest days of the year. This simple 6-inch desk fan features two quiet speeds, an adjustable head, and a durable design. You can also easily convert it from a tabletop fan to a clip-on fan (and vice versa).

21. Trash Can


Our Recommendation: Greenco Small Mesh Trash Cans, 2-Pack

Does your dorm room come with a trash can? If not, make sure to add one to your dorm room essentials list. You'll need a garbage can to toss food and any other trash in your room. This sleek Greenco mesh trash can comes in a two-pack, making it easy to recycle in your dorm as well.

22. Mini Fridge


Our Recommendation: RCA Black Mini Refrigerator

Store your cold brew concentrate and oat milk in a mini fridge to save on meal plan dollars. Or stash some beverages to share with roommates. This compact RCA mini refrigerator will fit into tight spaces and can hold dozens of cans.

23. Handheld Vacuum


Our Recommendation: BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Cordless Handheld Vacuum

Tight quarters can get dirty quickly, so pack a handheld vacuum for spring cleaning. This BLACK+DECKER dustbuster is both cordless and versatile, with multiple tools to dust and clean. It's so affordable you can make back the price by renting it out to your neighbors in the dorms.

24. Area Rug


Our Recommendation: Andecor Soft Fluffy Bedroom Rug

Many dorm rooms don't have carpeted floors. This extra-soft Andecor bedroom rug can make your room feel cozier, keep your feet warmer, and add a little pizzazz to your decor. Choose from neutral colors like gray, cream, and black or more vibrant colors like teal, hot pink, and purple.

25. Coffee Maker


Our Recommendation: Elite Gourmet Single-Serve Compact Coffee Maker

While most colleges offer coffee in dining halls and on-campus coffee shops, you won't always have time to wait in line. This handy personal coffee maker by Elite Gourmet comes with a reusable filter, coffee maker base, lid, and travel mug.

26. Microwaveable Food Storage Set


Our Recommendation: Rubbermaid Food Storage Containers, 8-Pack

This top-rated set of BPA-free plastic food containers by Rubbermaid allows you to store leftovers, prep meals, and keep your fridge organized. The containers' splatter-resistant vents help minimize microwave messes. This set is also dishwasher and freezer safe.

27. Utensil Set


Our Recommendation: Devico Portable Utensils, 8-Piece Set

Keeping some utensils in your dorm room can come in handy when you want to eat meals or snacks without visiting the dining hall. This small eight-piece set includes chopsticks and metal straws, in addition to a fork, knife, and spoon.

28. Tumbler


Our Recommendation: Stanley Classic Trigger Action Travel Thermos

This tumbler keeps drinks hot for seven hours and cold for up to 30 hours. It features a double-walled vacuum construction and a trigger lid that makes it easy to drink with one hand. The leak-proof lid is an added bonus.

29. Water Bottle


Our Recommendation: Thermoflask Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle

A water bottle is a college staple. Stay hydrated by grabbing a Thermoflask insulated water bottle. Not only will it keep beverages cold for up to 24 hours, but it can also keep hot beverages steaming. It comes in multiple sizes and colors, too.

30. Poster Strips


Our Recommendation: Command Poster Hanging Strips

Give your dorm a more personalized touch by hanging various items around your room. These strips allow you to hang posters, lights, and other small wall decorations, reducing the risk of damage. Using and removing these adhesive strips is simple and doesn't create a mess.

31. Pepper Spray Keychain


Our Recommendation: SABRE Advanced Pepper Spray Keychain

Consider a pepper spray keychain for personal protection on campus, especially if you'll be walking back to your dorm room at night. The SABRE pepper spray fits on a keychain and includes free safety training videos to help you feel safe on campus.

32. Toolkit


Our Recommendation: CARTMAN 39-Piece Tool Set

For minor repairs in the dorms, why not bring your own tool set? You'll get tons of use from a compact tool kit years after you leave the dorms, especially in your first apartment. Our pick includes 39 pieces in a compact storage case. And you can't beat the price!

33. Tapestry Wall Hanging


Our Recommendation: EMMTEEY Thin Tapestry Wall Hanging

Personalize a generic dorm room or living space with this vintage-inspired tapestry. The machine-washable tapestry comes in six sizes and various color combinations. You can use the seamless nails provided or your own double-sided strips to affix the tapestry to the wall.

34. Foldable Chair


Our Recommendation: Urban Shop Faux Fur Saucer Chair

Featuring style and functionality, this faux fur saucer chair can be an excellent addition to any dorm room. In addition to its cozy material, this foldable chair boasts a sturdy construction. This multifunctional seating option supports up to 225 pounds and comes in colors like black, aqua, red, purple, and mint.

35. Hanging Photo Display


Our Recommendation: LECLSTAR Photo Clip String Lights

Looking to boost your dorm room's atmosphere? Photo clip string lights can offer an inexpensive and stylish decorative touch. Spice up your room with these warm, white LED lights by using the accompanying clips to display photos and other memories.

Desk and School Supplies

36. Desk Lamp


Our Recommendation: AFROG Multifunctional LED Desk Lamp

A functional and stylish desk lamp is a dorm room essential. This lamp not only has five lighting modes but also boasts a USB charging port and wireless charger. In addition, it has an energy-saving auto-off timer and weighs just over a pound.

37. Desktop Organizer


Our Recommendation: MDHAND Office Desk Organizer

Long nights studying for exams and early mornings wrapping up papers can leave your dorm desk cluttered. So grab a desktop organizer to keep your space orderly. Our pick comes with six compact compartments that will organize your desk without taking up too much space.

38. Earbuds


Our Recommendation: TOZO T6 True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

With a user-friendly design and a reasonable price, these earbuds by TOZO are highly rated and easy to use. The waterproof design works well for students wanting to wear earbuds while working out. You'll also get over six hours of playtime on a single charge. Color options include black, white, green, and blue.

39. Wireless Mouse


Our Recommendation: ZERU Wireless Bluetooth Mouse

Most college students bring a laptop to the dorms. But you might benefit from a wireless mouse even if you aren't on a desktop. Small, portable, and ergonomic, this wireless Bluetooth mouse by ZERU boasts an anti-fingerprint finish. It also has a quiet click sound for those late-night study sessions.

40. Power Strip


Our Recommendation: GE 6-Outlet Surge Protector

Lamps, laptops, phone chargers . . . you'll quickly run out of outlets in your dorm room unless you pack a power strip. So multiply your outlets with a GE power strip, which comes with six outlets and added surge protection. With multiple cord lengths, you can find an option to fit your dorm.

41. Planner


Our Recommendation: Clever Fox Daily Planner

Between midterms, essays, and presentations, you'll track a lot of deadlines from your dorm room. So make sure to pack a planner. The right planner can give you structure and keep you on top of your classes. Our pick is undated, allowing you to create the perfect planner for your academic calendar.

42. Backpack


Our Recommendation: Matein Travel Laptop Backpack

You'll need something sturdy to cart your books, laptop, and water bottle around campus. So why not add a stylish backpack to your dorm room essentials? Our pick comes with a sleek look, a laptop sleeve, and a USB port to keep your electronics charged.

Have a Question About College?

In our Ask a College Advisor series, experienced advisors provide an insider look at the college experience by answering your questions about college admissions, finances, and student life.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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