Here is what you're allowed to have in a dorm

Taking notes ✏️

A purple swirly background with a picture of a dorm room with posters on the wall and lots of pillows on the bed.
(Image credit: Future / Dormify / Beth Mahoney)

You’re deep in the packing process for moving into your first-ever college dorm (BTW, we’re so excited for you), and you realize that you aren’t exactly sure about what is and isn’t allowed in your dorm. What can you actually bring with you that won't go against the rules, anger your RA, or cause a potential safety prob? 

Knowing what to take with you to college can be stressful. Naturally, you only want to bring things that are *actually* going to be useful and, obvi, items that won't get you in trouble.  

To help make sure that you’re fully informed on what you can take (and why you might need each item), we’ve created a handy list of some cool things you’re allowed to take to college that will make your dorm living experience much better from people who have been there.

What are you allowed to have in your dorm room?

1. Hot water bottle

While heated blankets and space heaters are (sadly) banned from dorm rooms, heat packs and hot water bottles are allowed. We recommend opting for an extra long one, like our ecommerce editor Christina suggests. This extra-long bottle from Amazon that comes complete with a super cute gray cable knit cover and is highly rated by shoppers is a great choice. 

2. Mini fridge 

If you're all about the snacks (aren't we all) then you might want to think about taking a mini fridge to college with you. Just make sure to find a mini fridge (like this highly-rated digital pick from Amazon) that’s the right size for your dorm room. You don’t want to select a design that’s too large or bulky. Oh, and if you're into skincare, your mini fridge can also double as a beauty fridge, so it's a win-win. 

3. Mattress topper 

I get it, it feels like a super basic item but you'd be amazed at how many freshmen fail to realize how essential a quality mattress topper is. The reality is that dorm beds are usually fitted with a basic (and potentially old) mattress, which means if struggle catching your Zs, it's only going to be worst. Enter: a super comfy mattress topper to adorn your mattress. Honestly, find the right one and it will change the game.

4. Statement bedding 

Basic, yes. But, hear me out. Investing in the best bedding is worth mentioning. Some colleges might offer linen, but you’re also allowed to take your own bedding. And, TBH, if you want to feel more at home in your dorm, that’s what we’d recommend. It's the perfect way to add a li'l extra style to your dorm by picking out some really quirky, unique bedding. I did this in my dorm and boy did it make a difference. 

5. Bed risers 

As our social media editor Nishaa — who is the queen of bed lofting — recommends, if you’re thinking of lofting your dorm bed, bed risers are an absolute must. But, before you buy, make sure to check with your college’s housing office. You might find that they supply lofting kits for free or have certain specifications that must be adhered to when lofting. 

6. Mini handheld vac 

Can't stand crumbs? Then you're going to need a mini handheld vac for your dorm. This is another recommendation from the team. Our editor-in-chief Melissa recommends taking a mini or handheld vac (like this cordless Black + Decker mini from Amazon) to college with you. You'd be surprised how quickly these tiny spaces get messy and rather than lugging the ancient vac in the residence hall closet to your room, you can have your own. 

7. Sodastream 

Forget wasting $$$ on can after can of your fave soda and instead treat yourself to a SodaStream (like this one from Amazon) to take to college with you. Yes, you have to pay a small chunk up front, but it'll save you a whole lot of money in the long run. Plus, it'll mean you can make yourself your fave soda whenever you want it without needing to leave your dorm. Don't sweat about outlet space either as a SodaStream doesn't run off of electricity, so you can literally put it anywhere. 

8. Mini ice maker 

Like having chilled drinks? Then a mini ice maker (like this countertop version from Amazon) is a dorm-room must-have. One of my college friends had one of these in their dorm and it got SO much use. Just be prepared to become the most popular person on your floor.

9. Plants (faux or real)

I know, I know, houseplants don’t exactly scream "college life" but a few carefully picked out plants for a tiny indoor garden can add a li'l something extra to your dorm. I didn’t take plants to college, but my roommate did and they made our dorm feel so much more homey. Whether you opt for real low-maintenance plants or faux alternatives, adding plants to your dorm is a great move. 

10. Electric wax or candle melter 

Okay, so candles and wax melts are usually banned in dorms because you’re required to have a naked flame to burn them, right? Well, if you opt for an electric wax melter — like this mini one from Amazon — or a candle warmer, like this cute Amazon candle warmer lamp, then you can enjoy your favorite scents without breaking the rules (or getting on your RA’s bad side).

11. Mini smoothie maker 

If you usually start every day with a smoothie, then a mini blender (like this Nutribullet from Amazon) is totally non-negotiable. For a quick, easy breakfast, a mini smoothie maker works like a dream. Honestly, it’s a great way to not only have a fast breakfast but also to make sure that you’re getting all your fruits and veggies, despite your hectic schedule.  

12. Wireless charging station 

The chances are that your dorm room is going to be low on power outlets, so why not reduce how many you need by bringing along a three-in-one charging station (like this one from Amazon) that covers your phone, smartwatch, and headphones? 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.