Real talk, if you're heading off to college, there's a lot you need to make your dorm room feel like home. From decor that shows off your personality to storage pieces to keep you organized, you've hopefully thought about how you want your dorm room to look.
While your dorm is equipped with a standard issue wood bed, desk, and a drawer set, it takes a lot of things to make it feel like home. It feels like we've only just scratched the surface with 36 products you'll need for a dorm room that covers everything from sleeping to studying. Luckily, some of these items can be coordinated with a roommate to save both space and money.
There's no doubt back to school is an exciting time. Bring the right dorm room essentials and you'll be off to a great school year.
Dorm room essentials: sleep
1. A mattress topper for extra comfort
We've found plenty of toppers under $150 that will turn your stiff dorm mattress into a cloud. The AllSwell 4" mattress topper is both plush and cooling, what a dream!
2. A mattress protector is a must
3. Have fun with your bedding
4. A set of sheets, or two
This uber soft microfiber sheet set is incredibly comfy and comes in over 44 colors and prints; no boring white sheets here.
5. A throw blanket for floor movie nights
Keep a throw blanket on hand for dorm floor movie nights, late night study seshes, or just to have in case you're feeling cold. Plus, it looks so nice draped across a bed.
6. Comfy, fresh pillows
Don't forget to pack fresh pillows. After all, you can snag one for as little as $10, and as much as $100, depending on your wants and needs. We suggest a minimum of two.
Dorm room essentials: live
7. Bed risers for extra storage space
With storage space guaranteed to be in short supply, raising your bed just a few inches can make extra space for utilizing the square footage under the bed for everything from snacks to sweaters. These risers can be adjusted to add 3", 5" or 8" in height to your bed, and handle up to 1,300 pounds.
8. Control your own lighting
Fluorescent overhead lights seem to cancel out every step taken to make a room feel like home. A floor lamp with the light bulb color of your choice offers generous light; MeanwhileLED strip lights (opens in new tab)will help illuminate the dark cavernous feel of any bunk bed situation.
9. Underbed storage to make use of every inch of space
Utilize bedroom storage options like under-bed organizers and containers to make the most of the space. These Brightroom Organizers (opens in new tab) have wheels to make rolling them out easier, while large stackable drawer bins like these baskets from IRIS (opens in new tab) are useful for storing bulky items like sweaters, shoes, or even food items.
10. Thin velvet hangers are your small closet heroes
Space-saving hangers are the most important purchase you could make for your closet, and the velvet designs keep clothes from slipping off. Fashionistas will likely want a set of at least 50, and there should still be space to spare.
11. Laundry hamper to contain dirty clothes
Look for a lightweight design that's easy enough to carry to the laundry room, but also space-saving that it can be tucked away in your closet. It's honestly a personal preference between a laundry bag or a more sturdy basket design.
12. Drying rack for laundry day
As you grow more comfortable with laundry, you'll realize not everything should go in the dryer. A folding laundry rack will come in handy for protecting delicate items you don't want to risk shrinking.
You'll likely want at least two sets of towels, depending on how often you'd like to do laundry. Don't forget to bring a hand towel too. Consider towels with loops for easy hanging, or with fast-drying antimicrobial properties to prevent smells and odors.
14. Shower shoes, a topic not up for debate
15. A shower caddy keeps all toiletries in one place
This mesh holder has plenty of space and compartments for all your toiletries and is super easy to take back and forth from the restroom.
16. Miscellaneous storage
This can take a lot of forms; in the form of a tiered cart, a hutch above your desk, or even bookshelves for storing school supplies, snacks, toiletries, accessories, and more.
17. Removable hooks that won't destroy the walls
Command strips and hooks will become your best friend throughout college from hanging up décor to organizing towels, bags, or hats. You'll want to stock up on these, trust. Command (opens in new tab) has a solution for every need.
18. A trash can that works with your decor, not against it
Even if your dorm gives you one, having your own, is a helpful touch, especially a sleek space-saving design in a classic metallic.
Dorm room essentials: study
19. Desk chair (or cushion)
You'll be logging lots of study hours at your desk. Make sure its comfy AND supportive, by adding a seat cushion, or replacing the chair with something that serves you instead of the standard wood-frame design.
20. A desk lamp for even more lighting
A task light is useful for creating a little bit of light without disturbing your roommate whether for late-night studying, or simply conflicting sleep schedules. This one has a sleek, modern design and built-in USB ports for even more convenience.
21. Stay charged up and plugged in
There never seem to be enough plugs in any dorm room we’ve been in. Ease up the outlet stress with a power strip with room for your phone, smartwatch, laptop, hair tools, speaker, and then some. A two-pack sets you up for power near your desk, and your bed.
22. A small printer
For assignments that require a hard copy to be turned in, it's so much easier to have one of the best small printers of your own than to run all over campus tracking one down. If you choose a Wi-Fi-printer, make sure it's password protected to keep nearby floormates from printing without permission.
23. Desk accessories to keep your desk clear
Invest in desk accessories, like this 5-piece set that includes a pencil cup, letter sorter, letter tray, hanging file organizer, and sticky hote holder to keep your desk straight, and free of clutter.
Dorm room essentials: eat
24. A mini-fridge for keeping food fresh
If there's a time to go with a retro-style fridge, it's for your first dorm room, with plenty of space for storing cold drinks and ice cream.
25. A small dinnerware set won't take up too much space
It's always handy to have some plates on hand, and you can scoop up this microwave-safe stoneware set of four bowls, dinner and salad plates each for as little as $25.
26. Start your drinkware collection
You can pick up a few glasses and mugs individually for cheap. We've found drinking glasses at Walmart (opens in new tab)for as low as 50 cents apiece. Show off your school spirit with a college-branded mug.
27. Flatware for sustainable dining
Unless you're planning to eat with your hands or rely on takeout plastic utensils, you can have a 12-piece set of your own, and it comes with its own easy storage caddy.
28. Food storage containers for life on-the-go
Food storage containers are essential for sustainably sourcing dining hall leftovers as well as for taking snacks and meals on the go. These sturdy Tritan plastic containers are leakproof, as well as dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe. They're available in a range of sizes and configurations.
29. Coffee maker (or hot water kettle for tea drinkers)
30. An air fryer for easy meals
A compact air fryer, like this 2.6 Qt. air fryer from Dash will become your prized possession if you're the type who would rather cook your own meals than eat whatever the dining hall is serving up, even if you choose to live off frozen chicken nuggets. Confirm with your dorm before bringing in a heated appliance.
Dorm room styling
31. A faux headboard makes your space instantly homey
Add immediate panache to your space with a faux headboard that seamlessly attaches to the wall, no permanent installation required, just Velcro. Bonus, this one has charging capabilities.
32. Rugs for something soft beneath your feet
A soft rug makes your dorm feel cozy and inviting, not to mention more comfortable to walk around barefoot. A 5' by 7' foot area rug should do the trick.
33. Air purifier
One of the best air purifiers is both inexpensive and compact! This Levoit air purifier is the perfect size for a dorm room, and can sit on a tabletop or the floor.
34. Cool off with a fan
Sometimes, it's helpful to have a little extra cool air to get you through unseasonably hot days. A tall tower fan takes up minimal space and can be tucked away during the off-season.
35. A full length mirror for getting ready and outfit checks
In case your dorm room doesn't come with one, a mirror that tucks onto your door with minimal installation is a must when getting ready. Not to mention, it helps a small room feel larger. This sleek metal over-the-door design is one you'll want to hold on to year after year.
36. Cleaning and laundry supplies
We could honestly devote a full article to the household essentials you should have in your space including a general disinfectant spray or wipes, laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, air freshener, and dish soap, among others. Bed Bath & Beyond conveniently pooled together all the cleaning must-haves into one shoppable collection (opens in new tab).