Dorm bathroom essentials you need to make things less icky

Squeaky clean

Three shower caddies on folded towels
(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

Moving into a college dorm can be intimidating for a variety of reasons: Will you like your roommate? Will you feel comfortable living in such a small space? Will you be able to survive showering in communal bathrooms? The list goes on. 

While showering and getting ready in a shared bathroom can feel awkward and out of your comfort zone, it’s a normal part of college life. To help you create a smooth experience, and to ensure you make the most of your self-care time, we’re rounding up dorm bathroom essentials every student should have. 

Whether you’re prepping for first-time dorm life and need a thorough packing list or you’re a returning student who wants to refresh what you currently have, consider this a complete buying guide to everything you’ll need.

10 dorm bathroom essentials at a glance

Looking for a quick list? These are the top must-haves for dorm bathroom life. Just add your toiletries, hair dryer, and curling iron and you’ll be set. 

Dorm bathroom essentials

We know how much time it takes to sort through all the dorm bathroom products out there, so to help you get college-ready, we’ve done the legwork. Here, you’ll find our suggestions for each essential. One major perk is that all of them are budget-friendly.

1) Bath towels

It should go without saying that bath towels must be brought to your campus, but during the chaos of packing, it can be easy to forget the basics. While dorm rooms don’t exactly have a lot of storage space, it’s smart to bring at least two bath towels so you have one to use while you’re doing your laundry. 

2) Hand towels 

You might think it’s a good idea to ditch hand towels in hopes that it will save you some space but they’re definitely necessary to have on hand (no pun intended). For times when you just want to wash your face or hands, it’s nice to have a size-appropriate towel you can grab. We’d recommend stocking up on two to four, depending on your habits and needs. 

3) Washcloths

Another obvious but often overlooked bathroom essential is a set of quality washcloths. They take up very little room but are useful and nice to have for moments that require sprucing up. Plus, if you ever have a guest stay in your dorm room, washcloths are the perfect item for them to freshen up with. 

 4) Shower shoes 

While it’s certainly not a glamorous item to buy (let alone wear) shower shoes are non-negotiable when considering the dorm bathroom lifestyle. While the shower is where you go to get clean, communal setups are a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. You might think you’re too cool to sport shoes in the shower, but you’ll be regretful when you go without sandals and instead end up with foot fungus.  

5) Shower caddy

You practically can’t think of dorm life without thinking of a shower caddy — they’re simply needed for corralling all of your bathroom products. There are so many that will get the job done, and they’re all relatively inexpensive. Try to pick a caddy that looks sturdy, and be sure to read reviews so you go with one that holds up well over time.  

6) Bath mat 

Because you likely don’t want to trek back to your room with cold, wet feet, consider purchasing a small bath mat that you can dry off on after your shower. Bath mats are light and easy to carry back and forth between your dorm and the bathroom. Pro tip: Choose a mat that’s easy to machine wash — and stay on top of washing it! 

 7) Bath body wrap or robe 

Once you get comfortable living in a dorm, it’s nice to go from the communal bathroom to your place without having to get fully dressed. Cover up with a cozy robe or a body wrap. Both are also nice to wear while you dry your hair or put on makeup. 

8) Storage basket 

Speaking of drying your hair, tote your hair dryer, curling iron, or straightener along to the bathroom in a small storage basket. These are great for keeping all of your supplies in one organized spot. Add your hair brush, hair products, and any other essentials to the basket.  

9) Shower curtain and rings 

Some college campuses will require you to bring your own shower curtain and rings. Be sure to find out exactly what you’ll need from your specific university. When picking a shower curtain, opt for one that’s machine washable so you can keep it squeaky clean. 

10) Hamper 

If you’re in a situation where you have to lug your bathroom supplies (towels, products, a change of clothes, etc.) to and from a shared space, use a hamper to house everything. Pop-up hampers are a particularly good choice for dorm room living because they can be stashed away when they’re not in use.  

Kara Thompson

About me: 

Kara Thompson is a Denver-based journalist with over five years of experience writing lifestyle content. She has written for a variety of publications, including,,, and Parents, where she covered all things home, food, fashion, travel, and holidays. During her time on staff at Parents, Kara launched her own home decor and organization column named Save My Space. In 2022, she left her full-time job as an editor and started her own writing, editing, and social media firm, Kara Thompson and Co.

Tennis, New York City, bourbon cocktails, and her sister's German Shepherd are a few of her favorite things.