40+ College Dorm Room Essentials You’ll Definitely Need This Year
From handy gadgets to cool organization tools, these items will help you feel right at home in your college abode.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.
RD.com, Via amazon.com(2), Via target.com
Must-haves for your home away from home
Just like that, summer is almost over and it’s time to start shopping for back-to-school supplies. While getting organized ahead of the first day is always tough, preparing for college move-in day is even tougher. That’s why we’ve rounded up the college dorm room essentials all students need in their arsenal. From over-the-door and under-the-bed organizers that will help you maximize your space to helpful accessories like a mug warmer and a phone charging pad, these items make BTS a breeze. Even better? You might find many of them at a discount right now at the best back-to-school sales. With your dorm room in order, you can focus on more important things, like buying an affordable laptop and laptop backpack and laughing at hilarious back-to-school memes.
Google Nest Mini
What will you do with this tiny smart speaker in college? Get the news, hear the weather, set reminders, set alarms, stream the best podcasts, play music from Spotify, and more. The Voice match can be set up to support six users, so everyone in your suite can say “OK Google!” and hear their personalized schedules.
Blue Sky 2021–22 Academic Planner
Meet your personal secretary—no, not your phone. It’s an academic planner, which will help you keep track of everything from dinner with the deans to that midnight pancake study session. The act of writing itself helps you remember more, and studies show that students who commit to using a planner are more organized, feel less stressed, and get better grades. Plus, doesn’t it feel great to cross tasks off your list and have a sleek planner to do it in?
eBags Pro Slim Laptop Backpack
This lightweight, sturdy backpack gets nearly perfect ratings from around 5,000 reviewers, including a self-professed “bag geek” who’s the director of a global software company. It’s an organizer’s dream, with lots of pockets and panels, including roomy tech compartments for all your devices, plus spots for your planner and a side zip pocket for your water bottle.
Cordinate USB Charging Station Extension Cord
While we’re talking tech, you’ll need more than that single outlet in your dorm room if you’re going to power up your devices—plus your lamp, hair dryer, smart speaker, coffee maker, and maybe even a fridge and a microwave. Got the picture? This power strip has two grounded outlets, as well as two USB ports for charging devices, and it’s also a surge protector that will safeguard all your stuff. A 10-foot power cord ensures that it actually gets where you need it to go.
Black & Decker Brew ‘N Go Personal Coffee Maker with Travel Mug
Coffee is a key fuel source for college students, so a coffee maker is an absolute must on any list of college dorm room essentials. This compact little brewer from Black & Decker could not be more convenient—the great-tasting coffee brews right into a 15-ounce thermal to-go mug that’s ready for you to grab on your way to class. Fans say it keeps the coffee nice and hot, and you can feel good about keeping piles of disposable cups, lids, and K-cups out of landfills. Here are more eco-friendly products you’ll love.
Galanz ExpressWave Sensor Cooking Microwave
Microwaving is a way of life for college students, whether you’re in a dorm room or an off-campus apartment. Enter the Galanz Expresswave Sensor Cooking Microwave from Walmart. It’s compact and budget-friendly, and a smart sensor takes the guesswork out of how long to heat your food. Dinner is served!
Becky Farmhouse Dining Table with Two Benches
With more than 2,600 five-star ratings on Amazon, this solid wood dining set comes highly recommended. The painted pine oozes wide-open country charm, but the petite size says just right for small spaces. In fact, both benches fit under the table for when you need to free up space. The set is super sturdy, but you can feel extra confident with a worry-free one-year warranty. It’s also an affordable way to elevate your space, so your dorm will feel a little more like a home.
Tru Grit Hex Neoprene Dumbbells
No time to run to the gym for a workout between classes? No problem. This set of dumbbells, available in a range of weights from two to 15 pounds, allows you to complete a quick strength-training sesh from the comfort of your own home. Unlike bulkier pieces of workout equipment, you can tuck these into a drawer when they’re not in use. You may also want to stock up on these expert-approved workout shorts.
The Set by Abbio Kitchen
For college students who are setting up shop in an off-campus apartment, Abbio is offering the perfect kitchen essentials starter kit. It has everything you need and nothing you don’t—simplifying the task, and price, of starting fresh. You’ll get a large nonstick skillet and small nonstick skillet, both made without harmful chemicals, plus a saucepan, sauté pan, and stockpot. Fun bonus: This set comes with a high-temp silicone hot pad, so can take your kitchen creations directly to the table.
Hilife Garment Steamer
You never know when you’ll need to dress to impress in college. Because of that, it’s important to have a steamer on hand to keep your clothes wrinkle-free. This handheld option from Hilife boasts more than 33,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. It’s small, compact, and features a nine-foot power cord. The journey to a more polished appearance starts now.
The Company Store LaCrosse LoftAIRE Down Alternative Comforter
Unlike hotels, dorm rooms have no thermostat to crank up if you’re chilly in winter, and that’s why you’ll want this best-selling down-alternative comforter from The Company Store. Not only will it keep you super toasty, but the sewn-through pockets also secure the microfiber filling in place, which means no awkward bunching after laundry day. The comforter, which has a lifetime guarantee, comes in your choice of 17 colors to match your dorm decor. If you have the opposite problem in your dorm or just tend to be a hot sleeper, try these lightweight comforters instead.
PediPocket Patented Foot Pocket Blanket
This soft, plush fleece throw blanket is tailor-made for people who get cold feet. It has a patented foot pocket that traps heat around your feet, so you can feel warm and cozy while studying, hanging out, or taking a post-exam nap. It’s also machine-washable and dryer-friendly, which is lucky since you’ll be using it every day.
Einova Marble Charging Pad
Sometimes, after a long day of attending classes, study sessions, and extracurricular activities, even reaching for your phone charger can feel like it requires as much energy as running a marathon. That’s where charging pads come in. This one, which comes in a stylish marble finish, can charge your iPhone in a little over an hour. Simply place your phone on top of the pad and watch as it charges back to life.
Squared Away 6-Shelf Hanging Organizer
You probably have more sweatshirts and jeans than dresses and suits, so make your closet space work better for your college wardrobe with a hanging organizer. Just attach the unit to your closet rod and you’ll instantly double your space for folded tees, sweaters, hats, and anything else that won’t fit in the tiny dorm dresser. Here are more of the best closet organizers that you can buy online.
Squared Away Hangers
The velvety hangers in this 50-pack are slim for maximizing storage. Plus, the cushiony texture keeps clothes from sliding off and piling up on the floor. And don’t underestimate the ease of finding things when all your clothes are at the same height in the closet. Helpful hint: Here’s how to hang sweaters without getting bumps in the shoulders.
Misby Coffee Warmer
This gadget will come in super handy when you’re studying. Misby’s coffee warmer turns on automatically when you put a cup on top of it and turns off when you remove it. While your drink is on the warmer, it’ll remain at a steady 131 degrees. More than 2,100 five-star reviewers on Amazon praise it for its auto-shut-off feature and sleek design. Keep it on your desk or nightstand to enjoy a warm cup of coffee or tea from the first to last sip.
Kusshi Makeup Organizer
A makeup organizer is one of those things that you could cheap out on and be sorry, or buy exactly what you want the first time and love it for life. Beauty bloggers have called the Kusshi Vacationer the “Best Makeup Travel Organizer” because it’s roomy enough for all your essentials and you can find your makeup quickly and easily, with dedicated pockets for brushes, cosmetics, accessories, and body-care products. Boom. Done.
3M Command Wire Hooks
Get ready to hang your bag, backpack, coat, mirror, bulletin board, tapestry, and other sundry college dorm room essentials with these damage-free reusable adhesive hooks. They’ll cling to paint, wood, and tile without budging—until you remove them. And when you do, they won’t leave a trace. This value pack has seven hooks with 12 refill strips.
LapGear Designer Lap Desk
When your bedroom is also the library, a laptop desk is a must. The foam bead cushioning underneath this one molds to your legs for perfect balance in any position, and the built-in ledge keeps your laptop or notebook from sliding off. There’s also a slot for your cell phone and a handle top for easy transport. It comes in seven modern geometric prints, including navy ikat and gray damask.
Stockyfy Foldable Under Bed Storage Bags
With no hall closet, attic, or basement in which to stash your extra stuff, you’ll want a few under-the-bed boxes for essential dorm organization. This pair of durable, versatile storage bags have adjustable dividers so you can customize the space for whatever you’re storing, whether it’s extra toiletries, towels and blankets, clothes, shoes, or your Polaroid camera collection.
Rawlings NFL XL Lineman Folding Chair
Whether it’s ahead of a tailgate or around a firepit, college students do a lot of socializing outdoors, so you’ll want to have a portable folding chair to tote along. And because it folds right back up—into its carry bag, with a shoulder strap—it can be stashed in a closet or under the bed when not in use. This folding chair, which is made in the USA and comes in all team logos, also has a cup holder and a mesh pocket for your cell phone.
Haundry Mesh Shower Caddy Tote
If you try to juggle all your toiletries back and forth to the shower, you’re inevitably going to drop them and possibly end up as an embarrassing meme. Don’t be an embarrassing meme. With eight pockets, this mesh shower caddy corrals and organizes all your lotions, potions, and shampoos; it also has a key ring and handles. Nearly 8,000 reviewers give it 4.7 stars, praising the tote as sturdy and spacious—even accommodating a towel and change of clothes.
KicksBySammy Pack of 4 Prints
No college dorm room is complete without decor, so grab some eye-catching, graffiti-inspired, 11-by-14 prints on museum-grade paper from KicksBySammy, an emerging artist just out of college herself. Choose any four hand-drawn print designs—including Tie Dye, Girl Boss, Lots of Smiles, Follow Your Dreams, and more—that suit your style. They can be hung with double-sided tape, tacks, or magnets, so there’s zero damage to walls. While you’re shopping, you’ll also want to check out these other affordable places to buy art online.
Restickity Restickable Photos
Here’s another way to spice up your space: Create a gallery of your favorite Instagrams with the click of a button. Restickity prints your photos on adhesive paper that sticks and re-sticks, without tape, tacks, magnets, or frames. Just upload your pics, choose from four different sizes, portrait or landscape, and add text if you want. They also stick on fridges, mirrors, laptops, water bottles, and more. By the way, here’s what your decor reveals about your personality.
Welly Excursion First Aid Kit
Accidents happen—falls, scrapes, rashes, gashes, and more. That’s why you’ll want to pack Welly’s Excursion First Aid kit, which comes with fabric bandages in various sizes (and designs, including tie-dye and rainbows), paper tape, non-stick gauze pads, butterfly strips, wound prep pads, antibiotic and hydrocortisone ointment packets, Ibuprofen, and more—all in a cute reusable tin.
Lifelike Custom Dog Pillow
OK, you could argue that a pillow customized to look exactly like your pet, just lounging on your bed waiting to give you love, is not essential. But when you have a moment of homesickness (or are just missing that little furball), you will get unspeakable comfort from snuggling this ultra-realistic dog- or cat-shaped pillow. It comes in small, medium, or large and gets five paws…er, stars, from some 5,000 fans. It also makes an excellent (and affordable) gift for dog lovers, so you might want to buy two and start your holiday shopping early!
Riley Percale Sheet Set
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body in college—and these sheets will help you do it. Chosen by the experts at Wirecutter as one of the best sheet sets of the year, Riley’s crisp, smooth, percale sheets will make your standard-issue dorm mattress feel like a hotel bed. The set comes with one fitted sheet and two pillowcases. And, of course, it comes in the Twin XL size. Need some new pillows? Choose from this list of the best pillows for every type of sleeper.
Squared Away Adjustable Wing Arm Laundry Drying Rack
Got lots of laundry? Good, because this drying rack has lots of space. The rack provides 18 bars and 30 feet of drying space and folds flat to store. (We recommend sliding it behind a dresser or under the bed.) It also has an adjustable wing arm for laying sweaters to dry and a mesh bottom shelf for smaller items. You’ll never have to worry about accidentally shrinking something in the dryer again.
Squared Away 3-Tier Bath Storage Cart
The beauty of this three-tier storage cart is that you can use it for so many things. Put it in your dorm’s bathroom to store essentials like makeup and styling tools for the perfect blowout, or keep it in your room to hold everything from school supplies and snacks to extra sweatshirts and linens. The cart has four wheels for easy mobility, making rearranging your space a breeze.
mDesign Folding Fabric Laundry Hamper
This durable fabric hamper is sturdy enough to handle full loads of laundry and lightweight enough for easy transport to the laundry room. The best part? The metal handles, of course. Plus, the hamper folds flat when not in use (if that ever happens), and looks chic in the meantime.
Ocushield All Day, All Night Oculamp
Tell us this isn’t the sleekest lamp you’ve ever seen. The All Day, All Night Oculamp was designed by optometrists to prevent eye strain and promote better sleep. It does that by offering three types of low-blue-light modes that work with your body’s internal clock instead of against it. There’s the cool white setting for daytime, the neutral white setting to prevent eye strain during long periods of work, and the warm white setting to help you unwind at night. Protect your eyes even more with a pair of the best blue light glasses.
NumWorks Graphing Calculator
College is all about learning new skills. And to learn some of those skills, you may need a graphing calculator. This option from NumWorks features a minimalist white design, a high-res screen, and a rechargeable battery. More than 3,500 reviewers give it an average 4.7-star rating, citing its high-speed graphing, user-friendly interface, and open-source software. Want to pass it down to a younger sibling when you’re done with Stats 101? It’s included on the list of permitted calculators for all College Board tests, including the SAT, ACT, AP, and PSAT.
Cariloha Bamboo Bath Towel Set
Make your dorm shower feel like a hotel spa with a set of plush bamboo towels. The environmentally friendly material is soft to the touch and offers natural moisture-wicking and odor-resistant properties. Each set comes with one regular towel, one hand towel, and one washcloth. They’re available in seven colors, so you can choose the one that best matches your room’s decor.
Room Essentials 3-Pack Shower Shoes
Whether your bathroom is on-suite or communal, it’s likely to harbor plenty of germs, including mold, fungus, and bacteria. Thankfully, these Target flip-flops will protect your feet from those nasties in showers, gyms, and locker rooms, and then dry quickly thanks to their perforated drainage holes. Bonus: They come in a three-pack for under $20.
Room Essentials Sherpa Bed Rest Pillow
Let’s face it: You’ll be spending a lot of time in your bed, whether you’re studying or just hanging out, so your space should be comfy. Enter the Best Rest Pillow from Target. It has a cozy Sherpa cover, a convenient top handle—perfect for carrying it to a friend’s dorm to watch the big game—and supportive arms that make it ideal for reading or working in bed.
Room Essentials Framed Door Mirror
A full-length mirror is the type of college dorm room essential that students often forget. Avoid becoming a fashion victim by securing yours ahead of move-in day. This lightweight one can easily be propped up against a wall or mounted to a door using mounting tape. The mirror is 49.56 inches by 13.56 inches by 12 inches and comes in four stylish colors, including green and pink.
Gaiam Printed Yoga Mat
College life can be stressful, which is why you’ll want to have this yoga mat on hand. Gaiam’s four-millimeter mat features a cushioned, non-slip surface, and comes in three cool patterns so you can show off your personality while you get into the right headspace. Throw on a pair of comfy leggings and use it in your room or at the university gym. Or take it to the quad for a morning workout sesh.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Room Freshener Spray
Burning candles in college dorms is a huge no-no—but that doesn’t mean you can’t include aromatherapy in your routine. Mrs. Meyer’s honeysuckle room spray will make your space smell as if you’ve just opened the window to a fresh garden. The 8,000-plus five-star reviewers on Amazon highlight its fresh, non-overpowering fragrance and natural ingredients.
UBrands Cork Bulletin Board
Keep track of your class syllabi, concert tickets, and photos with this handy cork bulletin board. At 23 inches by 17 inches, it’s the perfect size to prop on top of your desk or dresser or mount next to your bed to provide the ultimate reminder for all your most important tasks. Plus, with a minimalist wood frame, it’ll fit in with almost any type of dorm room decor.
Misslo Over the Door Shoe Organizer
Yes, you absolutely can bring your entire shoe collection to college—you just need the right shoe storage option for your space. This 24-pocket over-the-door organizer will keep each of your shoes in pristine condition. The see-through mesh pockets also mean you’ll never need to search for a matching pair of kicks again. Not a shoe person? The organizer can be used for other items, too. Think socks, underwear, cleaning supplies, or snacks.
UGG Fluff Yeah Slide Slipper
These over-the-top cozy slippers for women will be the ones everyone’s wearing this fall—and that makes them a college dorm room essential in our book. The fluffy slingback slides come in 40 colors, meaning there’s a hue to match every personality. They’re also 100 percent sheep wool and feature an elastic strap and a rubber outsole. Of the more than 20,000 five-star reviewers on Amazon, one person calls them “hands down the best slippers I own.” Use them to pad from one friend’s dorm room to the next without needing to deal with real shoes.
Americanflat Picture Frame
Don’t underestimate the power of a few photos to cure homesickness. These shatter-resistant glass frames, available in a pack of two and in a variety of sizes, are the perfect things to disperse around your room to add touches of home to your college space. Put one on your nightstand and another on your desk so you’re never too far away from a comforting image. If you need another pick-me-up, try looking at these happy pictures to take your mind off things.
Want more deals and product picks sent directly to your inbox? Sign up for the Stuff We Love newsletter!