Money & Budgeting

Dorm Room Essentials

Check out this list of 21 dorm room essentials for every college student!
Allan T
Jan 16, 2024

Dorm Room Essentials for Every College Student

Going off to college is both exciting as well as nerve-wracking. If you're going to be in a dorm, living by yourself for the first time can be a little scary. How do you know exactly what you’re going to need? Your parents might be able to give you some helpful advice, but it may have been a while since they were in college. Lots of lists online are either too general or way too specific. That's why we've put together this list of 21 college dorm essentials! 

These are the basic things that every college student needs while living in a dorm. These items will help you feel more comfortable in your new space and make you feel at home.


Studies have shown that sleep is one of the most important factors when it comes to learning and memory. Most college students get less than the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. Talk to a resident advisor to find out the size of your bed in the dorm and buy the right sheets for that size. Fitted sheets are an excellent choice in university because they require less maintenance. Make sure you get at least three sets including bed sheets, pillowcases, and duvet covers. One to use, one for emergencies, and an extra in case a set is in the laundry.  Don't underestimate the impact of quality bedding. Not only will it make your nights more comfortable, but the opportunity to impact your college dorm decor by expressing yourself through colors and patterns is invaluable!

Mattress Topper

In an ideal world, every year you would get a brand new mattress to sleep on, but the truth is they're pretty expensive. You have no way of knowing how worn out your mattress may be or in what condition it is until you get to your dorm. A mattress topper is a thin layer of comfortable material that sits on top of your mattress to add extra comfort and keep you clean. Mattress toppers are not expensive and you can change yours every year. A good mattress topper (especially if it's made from memory foam) can make your sleep much more restful and can even serve as an extra bed on the floor if you have visitors.

Comfy Pillows

Everyone knows how important a comfy pillow is to get a quality night’s sleep. People have different preferences for what kind of pillow they like -  hard, soft, memory foam, cotton, feathers, hypoallergenic, etc. Even if your dorm comes with pillows and basic bedding, you can't be sure of the quality of the pillows so bringing the perfect one with you will make you feel more comfortable. Also, there's no harm in having extra pillows, they're always going to be useful when you have friends over and can be used as cushions in the common area.

Alarm Clock

If you're used to your parents waking you up in the morning for school, well, that isn't going to cut it anymore. Even if you are used to waking up yourself with the alarm on your phone, getting a physical alarm clock will make sure that you don't miss classes or other important activities. A physical alarm clock sitting on a table outside of arm's reach means you have to get out of bed which means that you can't keep snoozing the alarm on your phone until you're too late for class. This might be one of the first times you have to be completely responsible yourself and having an alarm clock is one of the best ways of making sure you don't oversleep.

Plates, Bowls, and Mugs

Even if you have a meal plan, having a few plates, bowls, and mugs are college dorm essentials. Plates are useful anytime you order in and have leftovers or serve food if you choose to use the kitchen and cook. Bowls are probably one of the most versatile dishes because you can use them for everything from easy breakfasts like cereal all the way to healthy dinners like rice and stir-fried vegetables. Mugs are better than glasses because anything you put in a glass you can put in a mug. Not to mention the times you want to brew your own coffee or have some tea or soup. If you are going to live off-campus then plates, bowls, and mugs are essential items on a college apartment checklist.

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Bring a few sets of basic flatware like knives, spoons, and forks to round out your basic kitchen requirements. Having your own flatware means you don't have to use plastic disposable utensils which are bad for the environment. Make sure you bring a few different kinds of knives, one for cutting and peeling vegetables, a few for cutting through meat, and blunt knives for spreading butter and Nutella. Bring a few small spoons for desserts as well as larger spoons for meals. Don’t forget some soup spoons if you enjoy soupy foods like ramen or curry. Forks are just all-around useful and can be used for a variety of dishes. Since they take up so little space feel free to pack in any additional flatware you like to use like sporks and chopsticks.

Laundry Hamper

Sure your clothes might already be dirty but putting them in a pile on the floor isn't hygienic at all. A laundry hamper will help keep your room neat and tidy, not to mention give you a good idea of when it's time to do laundry. In case you think that a laundry hamper is going to take up a lot of space when moving to a dorm, you can find inexpensive collapsible laundry baskets online, or just pack things into a laundry hamper when moving!

Bath Towels

Chances are you're going to have a common shower area, so a few comfy bath towels are absolutely college dorm essentials. Make sure to have at least three towels, one to use, one to launder, and one for emergencies. If you have a favorite soft towel then bring that along but make sure you have a couple of towels that are quick to dry as well. Probably don't need to say this, but make sure you have bath towels that are long enough to cover all your private bits! 

Shower Shoes

Bring along a couple of dedicated shower shoes or flip-flops. You don't want to trek barefoot from the common bathroom to your dorm and you definitely don't want to walk around barefoot in the grimy showers. Having footwear dedicated just for showering will protect your feet from dirt and fungal infections. You can leave your footwear outside your door so that your room doesn't get wet.

Plastic Drawers

You're going to accumulate a lot of things while in your dorm room so having an extra set of drawers is always going to be useful. Plastic drawers are pretty inexpensive and having that extra storage space for notes, stationery, and personal effects is going to help you stay organized. You can stack sets of plastic drawers on top of each other to save space or use the drawers as a way of raising things to arm level like a mini-fridge.

Storage Bins

Most dorm rooms are pretty small so having a way of expanding your storage space is crucial. Storage bins can fit under your bed so that they don't take up space and are the perfect place to put away clothes that aren't in season or equipment that you need but don't use that often. Like plastic drawers, they can be stacked on top of each other to save space and raise things to eye level. Storage bins are dorm room essentials that will help you stay organized.

Bulletin Board/Dry Erase Board

Even if you're used to doing everything on your phone, having a bulletin board or dry erase board, where you can note down important things where it’s always visible can be really useful.  Bulletin boards are a great place to pin important information or flyers. Dry erase boards are great for posting reminders, making schedules, or keeping track of your spending. They are also great for playing games like hangman when you're just relaxing with your friends!

Desk Lamp

You can never be quite sure who your roommate is going to be. If you need to study late at night but they're sleeping, a desk lamp is one of the dorm room essentials. In any case, having a personal desk lamp ensures that you have enough light to do your readings. You can use a funky desk lamp to add to your college dorm decor! 

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Comfy Chair

Most dorm rooms come with a desk of some sort and a chair. A table is basically just a flat surface and almost anything will do but if you plan on spending a lot of time in a chair then getting a comfortable one is really important. A comfortable chair will allow you to spend longer at the desk studying and will protect you from back pain and other physical issues. Most study chairs come in boxes that you assemble yourself so bringing one from home should be on your college dorm essentials list. If you're moving into off-campus housing then a comfortable chair definitely should be on your college apartment checklist.

Trash Can

Sure you can use random bags that you find to store your trash but your room is going to look dirty and messy. Invest in a simple trash can and it will make your life much easier. Plastic trash cans are super cheap and can be used to pack things in when moving around.


You're going to start using notebooks almost immediately when you get to University so stock up on them beforehand. Think about the kinds of classes you might be taking and buy appropriate notebooks for them. If you have a lot of math classes you may need a notebook with graphing grids. If you are going to take art classes you will need notebooks with special types of paper. And make sure to get some regularly ruled notebooks for other classes. You can never have too many notebooks, they are always going to be useful!

Weekly Planner Notepad

Weekly planners are notebooks that have hourly breakdowns for every day. They are incredibly useful when you have a thousand things to do and need to plan out your activities hour by hour.  A weekly planner notebook is an organizational tool that will help you manage your time and help build a schedule and are dorm room essentials. 

Power Strip

Most college dorm rooms have just a couple of electrical outlets but students have laptops, phones, ebook readers, hairdryers, tablets, speakers, video game consoles, and a lot more electrical appliances that are going to need charging. Sometimes the cables of the appliances are going to be short which is another reason why getting a couple of power strips with long cables is going to make your life much more convenient. If you're going to live in an apartment then a power strip definitely makes it onto a college apartment checklist. 

Travel Mug

Travel mugs are useful because of their insulation and their portability. You can make your own drinks before heading out to class rather than spend money on coffee or juices at a shop on campus. Travel mugs are also great to have during road trips for storing things like soup so add one to your college dorm essentials list. 


A microwave is one of the most useful things you can have in your dorm room. A microwave close at hand opens up a whole range of possibilities for food options. Whether it's reheating leftovers, nuking a frozen pizza, or making a baked potato, there are endless food options with a microwave. Community microwaves can be busy and can sometimes be pretty disgusting so having a personal one is very useful. You can pick up small microwaves pretty cheaply and if you have your own place then a microwave is essential on a college apartment checklist.  


A mini-fridge lets you store food items along with sodas and other beverages rather than risk putting them in a communal refrigerator in the kitchen. A mini-fridge is also a great place to store leftovers and keep ingredients if you plan on cooking. A mini-fridge may seem like a luxury to some people but think about how much you are going to cook and the convenience of having a mini-fridge and make the decision to get one or not.

This list of college dorm essentials can help you prepare for your college life! Take the time to shop around for items that fit your budget and let you express yourself through your dorm decor. College can be a stressful time, so it's crucial to come prepared with all the dorm room essentials. If you ever find yourself stressed out with coursework and need help with homework or essays, don't hesitate to seek assistance from the experts at Studyfy. Their services include options to buy biology essays, use their argumentative essay writing service, order custom research papers, or pay for an essay.