What isn’t allowed in a dorm room and why

A heads up for our besties

A dorm room bed on a rainbow background.
(Image credit: Future / Dormify / Beth Mahoney)

You’re in the process of packing to move into your first-ever college dorm (eek) and it strikes you that not everything you want to pack is actually allowed.  you’re wondering what you are and aren’t allowed to take with you. 

You probably have a pile going of all your fave items from your go-to bedding to your fave room spray, but what you might not have considered is what isn’t allowed in a dorm. That is, if you want to stay on your RA’s good side. 

To help make sure that you’re fully informed, we’ve used our own knowledge of college life, coupled with advice from some former RAs, to create a handy list of what isn’t allowed in a dorm room. 

What aren’t you allowed to have in your dorm room?

1. Candles 

While candles might smell glorious, the truth is that naked flames can be dangerous, which is why they’re banned at most (if not all) college dorms. A great alternative are LED battery-operated candles (like these real wax LED candles from Amazon) that flicker just like real candles but don’t carry the fire risk. There are also plenty of ways to make your dorm smell nice outside of wax and wicks.

2. A space heater

If you’re a cold person, then you might think that taking a space heater to college with you is a great way to stay toasty, but this is another item that’s banned in most dorm rooms, simply because of the fire risk. Opt for cozy blankets instead and stock up on cute sweatshirts.

3. Strip lighting 

While some colleges do allow LED strip lighting in their dorm rooms, others do not. Before you head out and buy 10 feet worth of strip lighting for your new dorm, make sure to check if it's actually allowed in your space (and while you're there, it's best to check what kind of lights in general you can bring). There are plenty of cute dorm lighting options out there if these are banned. 

4. Air fryers 

An air fryer might seem like a great tool to take to college and pop in your dorm, especially if you’re someone who loves to snack and cook, but the truth is most dorms actually ban air fryers due to the fire risk. Other small appliances are often allowed (like an electric kettle for making ramen), but double-check your university's list. 

5. Waffle makers 

If you’re a big waffle fan, you might love the idea of taking a waffle maker to college but if you do, the chances are that you’ll get it taken away from you by your RA. Why? Because waffle makers — like most other cooking appliances — aren’t allowed in your dorm room, due to the safety risk that they pose. Stick to the breakfast items in the dining hall, grab brunch with friends, or find a pal who's in an apartment for Sunay breakfasts!

6. Panini makers 

Yep, panini makers are another no-no for college dorm rooms. No matter how much you love grilled cheeses and other toasted sandwiches, you’re better off leaving your panini maker at home. It might be worth buying some non-toxic cookware and making the most of your shared kitchen if your hall has one!

7. Some lamps 

LED strip lights aren't the only banned items. While you’re able to take certain lamps to college with you, any lamps that feature an exposed lighting element aren’t usually allowed in a dorm room. So, you know those super cute neon lights that are all over TikTok? They’re sadly a big no-no. 

8. Extension cords without surge protection 

Extension cords can be mega useful in a dorm room where you have limited power outlets. But if you’re going to pack an extension cord, make sure that it’s one that features surge protection. Otherwise, you could get a random room check and get it taken away by your RA. 

9. Electric blankets  

Electric blankets might seem like just another cozy buy that helps keep you warm when the temps drop, but they actually pose quite a serious fire risk — hence why they’re banned in most college dorms. Instead, grab a wool blanket or bedding in materials that'll trap heat in.

Beth Mahoney
Staff Writer

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a 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.


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