27 Dorm Essentials You Can’t Forget

This post is all about dorm essentials.

dorm essentials

When moving into a dorm room, a lot of money can be spent. To save money, let's focus on the dorm essentials you actually need.

When I moved into the dorms freshman year, I bought everything and anything. I can't believe the amount of money I waisted! I didn't use half of the things.

After living in the dorms for two years and talking to other college students, we've rounded up the 27 dorm essentials you actually need.

This post is all about dorm essentials.


1. Storage Cubbies 

Dorm rooms are so tiny, you're definitely going to have to come up with ways to create storage in it. 

I highly recommend storage cubbies of any kind. My freshman year,  I just got some canvas bins like these ones from Amazon and they worked wonders. I stored makeup, snacks, school supplies, even shoes in them! 

So whatever you do, bring some cubbies to your dorm. 

2. Mini Fridge 

This item was such a dorm essential my freshman year that I truly do not know what I would have done without it! 

If you can, I highly suggest bringing a mini fridge. It's so nice to be able to store water bottles and small snacks like fruit cups in it. That way when you get hungry, you don't have to go all the way to the dining hall for a banana and a water bottle. You can just hop out of bed and grab it from your dorm room! 

And pro tip: get one with a freezer at the top. That way you can buy a couple frozen meals and heat them up for dinner when you don't want to leave your dorm, too! 

3. Towel Wrap

90% of dorms have community bathrooms. They aren't the worst thing in the world, but they aren't the best thing either. One way to make them much more bearable is by making sure you have all the essentials you need for it. 

One essential that saved my life was a towel wrap. A robe works perfectly for this too but basically it is something you can wrap around and velcro together when you're out of the shower and walking back to your dorm room. GENIUS, right? 

Gone is the fear that your towel drops in the hallway, a towel wrap or robe has got you covered, literally. 

4. Shower Shoes 

Going along with the dorm essentials for the shower idea, another item you will most definitely need are shower shoes. 

The showers in dorm bathrooms are not ideal, so save the possibility of getting sick or infected by getting some shower shoes. The good news is that cheap flip flops or slides work perfectly, so you don't have to go spend a fortune on them! 

5. Shower Caddy 

Another dorm essential for the shower is a shower caddy because it provides one place to store everything you need in the shower. 

You won't have to worry about forgetting shampoo all the way back in your room. Or dropping everything on the way to and from the shower. Seriously, a shower caddy is the dorm essential that you truly cannot live without. 

6. Hair Turban 

This dorm essential is for all my girls with longer hair. Forget wrapping it in a separate towel, get these hair turbans instead. 

I've used these ever since I was a little girl, and in college it's been no exception. Just tie your hair up in it and go. It's a time saver and hassle free way to naturally dry your hair in college! 

7. Microwave 

Having a microwave in your dorm room is another huge dorm essential. 

It heats up leftovers, it makes quick frozen meals, it heats up snacks or popcorn for movie night. Or coffee that's gotten cold while studying. If you're moving into a dorm, you need a microwave. 

8. Futon 

If I wasn't in my bed freshman year, I was on my futon. 

A futon is a huge dorm essential because it serves so many purposes! It can be a place for guests to crash over night or hang while doing homework or watching TV in your dorm. 

It can also be a life saver if you choose to loft your beds. That's what I did my freshman year so the futon came in super handy for watching TV or crashing if I was too tired to climb up into my bed! 

9. Compartmentalized Laundry Basket

A laundry basket is a mandatory item for your dorm room, like if you could only bring 10 items to your dorm room, a laundry basket needs to be one of them. 

But what I found to be a dorm essential for a laundry basket was to get one that was already separated out into lights, darks, and delicates. 

Why? Saves you time on sorting, and you can grab one section and run it down to wash. Ultimately, it's a time saver and that' why I highly recommend it as a dorm essential. 

10. Bath and Body Works Wallflowers

One thing I hated about the dorms was their rule that I couldn't have candles. I didn't just hate it because I'm a candle fanatic, I hated it because a lot of times the dorms didn't smell great. 

Then a friend recommended Wallflowers from Bath and Body Works to me. They're plug in scents that leave your room smelling amazing for a month. The scents aren't overpowering to where you could get a headache, and they're super affordable. I 12/10 recommend getting a wallflower and stocking up on scents!  

11. Command Hooks 

Ok, command hooks saved my life freshman year in the dorms, so I HAD to include them in this dorm essentials list

Command Hooks are great for hanging clothes, bags, lights, pictures, and basically everything else. They're sturdy, inexpensive, AND when you take them down it doesn't chip the paint SO you won't be left with annoying damages fines! Stock up on them before move in, and thank me later! 

12. Collapsable Drying Rack 

Another great dorm essential is a collapsable drying rack. 

I was obsessed with this because I had so many clothes that were suppose to be hung dry, like all my Lululemon workout clothes. Having this drying rack was such a game changer because it allowed me to dry my clothes in my own room so I  didn't run the risk of anyone stealing them, and it was collapsable so I could store it easily when I wasn't using it. 

So if you have clothes you will have to hang dry, get a collapsable drying rack! 

13. Surge Proof Power Strip 

Odds are, your tiny shoebox of a dorm room will have like 4 outlets, max. This is a problem because we have iPads, iPhones, Watches, TVs . . . a lot more things that need to be plugged in than 4 outlets will allow. 

So a major dorm essential is a power strip because it gives you like 7 outlets for the price of one. Power strips allow you to plug in everything you need. Pro tip: get a surge proof power strip though because dorms and storms are not a good mix and the power can go out and ruin every piece of technology you own. So avoid that disaster by paying like $5 extra dollars for a surge proof one! 

14. Plastic Drawers 

Dorms aren't very prepared for the masses of clothes that freshman are convinced they need to bring to college. 

So to make room for all those clothes, I highly suggest buying a couple of the plastic container drawers and storing all your t-shirts, shorts and leggings in them. Keep them under your bed to maximize space, too. It's a must have dorm essential, for sure! 

PS! I used the top two drawers for clothes and the bottom drawer for food. It worked great!

15. Blackout Curtains  

These were such a dorm essential for me my freshman year, and I still keep them in my bedroom two years later. 

Blackout curtains keep your dorm room dark for the days you want to sleep in or just think it's too sunny out for your mood. They also keep your dorm room cooler in the warmer weather because they completely block sunlight. And they're not super expensive. Like the ones above from Amazon are literally the ones that I still have. In college you need sleep, so ensure you get some by buying these curtains! 

16. Keurig with a Water Tank 

Ah coffee, the survival juice of the college student. It can be such a pain to go to the dining hall for coffee every morning, so save yourself the time and the trip and get yourself a Keurig WITH a water tank. 

The water tank will give you like 6 cups of coffee before you have to refill it. And, a Keurig can make more than just coffee for you. It can heat the water for ramen or oatmeal or even tea. It's a solid investment and dorm essential one needs in their life.

17. Clorox Wipes 

In general, cleaning supplies are a essential to the dorm room. It can get dirty quick, but a short, consistent cleaning routine will keep your dorm room constantly clean. 

But if I had to pick just one cleaning supply that was most essential to the dorm, it was Clorox Wipes. They're so easy to just whip out and wipe down a desk or any flat surface with. And they can fit into those annoying little cracks and crevices that hoard dirt like no other. So keep a supply of Clorox wipes in the dorm, you won't regret it! 

18. Extra Long Charge Cord 

Not only are outlets few and far between in dorm rooms,  but 9 times out of 10 they're placed in the worst possible places. 

But this can be a non-issue, if you have the proper power cords. I bought like 4 10ft usb cords for my dorm and they worked wonders. Such wonders that I'm making them a dorm essential, and I highly urge you to do the same! 

19. Slippers 

Slippers are a dorm essential because they keep your feet warm. When you know your feet are going to warm then it is easier for you to get out of bed. When it's easier to get out of bed you will be more productive. So, slippers make you more productive. Get them. 

20. Blankets 

I would have died of hypothermia while studying for finals in December if I didn't have a blanket. Because it saved my life, I had to include it as a dorm essential. 

This one from Amazon is the exact one that saved me. It's inexpensive but SO WARM. Use it for extra warmth in bed or while you're snuggled on your futon watching TV. It made my dorm experience luxurious, so I highly suggest you buying it. 

21. Tool Kit 

This is definitely not what people think would be on a dorm essentials list. But oh my god you NEED a TOOL KIT in your dorm. It's like, honestly, the number one essential. 

Because things break, you have to rehang things or you buy more to hang long after your dad and his tool kit leaves. It comes in so handy if you have a basic tool kit. Trust me. 

22. First Aid Kit 

This is another essential that many college students forget. I did, until I desperately needed a band aid and had to spend 20 minutes banging on neighbors doors trying to find one. True story, but not my proudest moment. 

So don't be like me, get a first aid kit. It's there when you need it, and then you can be the one saving lives by passing out band aids! Basically, having a first aid kit makes you the Derek Shepherd of your dorm. And who doesn't want that? 

23. Desk Lamp 

Okay, my dorm room had shelves on top of the desks so I was #blessed with a built in lamp over my desk. My friends in the dorm across from me? Not so much.

They swore that having a good desk lamp was the key to making sure you could get stuff done in your dorm room. Since you're in the dorm to go to college and you're in college to do work for a degree, a desk lamp is a true dorm essential.

24. Desk Organizers 

One thing I did have to have for my desk was organizers. It provided a place to store paper clips, papers, folders, tape, staples. It just is something you really need to stay somewhat sane and organized take my word for it ok? Ok! 

25. Mattress Cover 

This is a dorm essential because it make your bed super soft and also creates a barrier between you and the mattress that plenty of people have slept on before you. 

I ordered a mattress topper with extra foam in it for my dorm room and LET ME TELL YOU my bed was more comfy there than at home. So, grab  this dorm essential for great, comfortable sleep that erases all homesick vibes. 

26. Amazon Echo 

Okay, I am OBSESSED with my Echo. Seriously, I use it for everything: a speaker, an alarm, a calendar, a friend when no one else texts me back, you get the idea! 

I got my first Echo right before freshman year. It's like having a personal assistant honestly because it can perform so many great functions that help your daily life run smoothly! 

27. Fan

It's important to have a fan or some sort of device that circulates the air in your dorm because dorm rooms can get SO STUFFY! 

My roommate and I spent the first 2 months of college burning up and getting sick because we didn't have the proper air circulation. So save yourself and your immune system by purchasing this dorm essential! 

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