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38 Dorm Room Essentials You’ll Definitely Need for 2020

Dorm living just got a little trickier, but we've got you covered.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.

Portrait of young smiling woman at youth hostelKlaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Brave new dorm

Your traditional college packing list changed this year, thanks to the global pandemic. At least for the foreseeable future, face masks are your number one accessory, and the dorm room is no longer just a place to sleep—it’s also a virtual classroom, a library, an auxiliary dining hall, a lounge, and a sanitization station. Use our updated dorm essentials checklist to make sure you have all the bases covered for a safe, healthy, A+ year.

Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.

Jaanuu Reusable Antimicrobial Finished Face Mask Adult (5 Pack)via jaanuu.com

Jaanuu Reusable Antimicrobial Finished Face Mask Adult (5 Pack)

$25

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The new normal involves wearing a face mask daily, so we’re investing in this set of five from a company that manufactures medical scrubs and lab coats. The double-ply masks are made with a moisture-wicking, breathable fabric treated with antimicrobial technology to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew. They’re also lightweight, stretchy, and sleek, like your favorite pair of yoga pants, which may be why this set has earned over 2,700 five-star reviews. If you’re not already on board, these eye-opening facts will convince you to wear a face mask.

Hand sanitizervia eoproducts.com

EO Hand Sanitizer

$29.99

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Stock up on germ busters with this set of six pocket-size hand sanitizer sprays from EO. They’re made with 62 percent ethyl alcohol, so they’re a potent, effective killer of viruses and bacteria, plus, the French lavender essential oil adds a calming aromatherapy—perfect to counter the stress of exams. When it’s time to restock, make sure to avoid the FDA’s list of potentially toxic hand sanitizers.

Sis Kiss Hands-Free Keychainvia the siskiss.com

Sis Kiss Hands-Free Keychain

$12

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If you’re wondering how long germs linger on surfaces, the answer is anywhere from four hours to five days or more. Yikes! But you can limit your exposure to germs in the first place by using a touch-less key to open and close doors, push buttons at elevators and ATMs, navigate touch screens, pick up take-out bags, and more. The Hands-Free Keychain from Sis Kiss comes in seven cool graphic styles including Loud Mouth, TSK Graphic Print, and our favorite, Evil Eye.

Google Nest Minivia bestbuy.com

Google Nest Mini

$49

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What will you do with this tiny smart speaker in college? Get the news, hear the weather, set reminders, set alarms, stream podcasts, play music from Spotify, YouTube Music, and more, and ask the Google Assistant just about anything. The Voice match can be set up to support six users, so everyone in your suite can say “Hey Google!” and hear their personalized schedules. These are the tech tools students need for remote learning this fall.

2020-21 Kelly Venture Academic Plannervia target.com

2020-21 Kelly Ventura Academic Planner

$12.99

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Meet your personal secretary—no, not your phone. It’s an academic planner, to 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 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?

Astrea ONE Premium Filtering Water Bottlevia bedbathandbeyond.com

Astrea ONE Premium Filtering Water Bottle

$39.99

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You can skip the waste of disposable plastic bottles when you’ve got cool, filtered water in this stainless steel reusable bottle. The filter removes 23 common nasties from tap water, including chlorine, lead, pesticides, and herbicides. A nested straw means you won’t be tempted to grab one that could end up polluting the ocean. Here’s how often you need to wash a reusable water bottle.

eBags Pro Slim Laptop Backpackvia ebags.com

eBags Pro Slim Laptop Backpack

$139.99

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This lightweight, sturdy backpack gets nearly perfect ratings from over 6,000 reviewers, including a self-professed “bag geek” who is 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. Don’t miss the signs that your backpack is too heavy.

Cordinate Designer USB Charging Station Extension Cordvia amazon.com

Cordinate Designer USB Charging Station Extension Cord

$19.50

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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 a lamp, a hair dryer, a smart speaker, a coffee maker, maybe a fridge and a microwave. Got the picture? This power strip has two grounded outlets, plus two USB ports for charging devices, and it’s also a surge protector to safeguard all your stuff. A 10-foot power cord ensures that it actually gets where you need it to go. Surge protectors are just one of the things you should never buy used.

Black & Decker Brew 'N Go Personal Coffee Maker with Travel Mugvia biglots.com

Black & Decker Brew ‘N Go Personal Coffee Maker with Travel Mug

$14.99

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Coffee is a key fuel source for college students, and 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 ready for you to grab on your way out 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. If you need to cook in your dorm room, consider the multi-use kitchen gadgets that do just about everything.

SALT Microwave Dinnerware Collectionvia bedbathandbeyond.com

SALT Microwave Dinnerware Collection

$6.39

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Ramen noodles are most definitely in your college future, so plan ahead with this set of four durable plates and bowls made specifically for microwave cooking and reheating. Made of BPA-free plastic that won’t crack or break, they have a cool-touch feature that lets you serve food right out of the microwave. They’re also freezer and dishwasher safe. Check out the things you didn’t know you could microwave.

Galanz ExpressWave Sensor Cooking Microwavevia walmart.com

Galanz ExpressWave Sensor Cooking Microwave

$89

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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, budget-friendly, and a smart sensor takes the guesswork out of how long to heat your food. Dinner is served!

Collapse-it Silicone Food Storage Containersvia amazon.com

Collapse-it Silicone Food Storage Containers

$39.99

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These BPA-free silicone food storage containers keep leftovers fresh, and then collapse and stack to take up minimal space when not in use. Bonus: They’re microwave, dishwasher, oven and even freezer-safe! The set comes with five containers in various sizes.

Becky Farmhouse Dining Table with Two Benchesvia amazon.com

Becky Farmhouse Dining Table with Two Benches

$215.71

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Nearly five-star ratings from over 1,600 reviewers means 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.

Ultimate Siren Travel Setvia mermaidstraw.com

Ultimate Siren Travel Set

$32

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Many big companies are getting rid of plastic for good—and you can hop on that earth-friendly bandwagon by bringing your own reusable straw and utensils to your college dorm. We’re loving the sleek and stylish zero-waste travel set from Mermaid Straw. Made of food-grade stainless steel, it includes a fork, spoon, knife, straw and chopsticks—all neatly stored in a canvas wrap. Bonus: Every purchase supports ocean conservation.

the full set by abbio kitchenvia abbiokitchen.com

The Full Set by Abbio Kitchen

$287

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For remote college students who are setting up shop in an off-campus apartment, Abbio is now offering an iconic 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, made without harmful chemicals, plus a sauce pan, sauté pan and stock pot. Fun bonus: The Set comes with a high-temp silicon hot pad so can take your kitchen creations directly to the table.

FLIP Mattress by Nest Beddingvia amazon.com

FLIP Mattress by Nest Bedding

From $349

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If your college student is renting an off-campus apartment or “dorm-ifying” their bedroom at home, the FLIP mattress from Nest Bedding is a total score: It’s super wallet-friendly, comes in all sizes, and is available on Amazon with a single click. As a bonus, the hybrid mattress, which is made-in-the-USA from cooling gel foam and coils, can be flipped over for a second life.

The Company Store LaCrosse LoftAIRE Down Alternative Comfortervia thecompanystore.com

The Company Store LaCrosse LoftAIRE Down Alternative Comforter

$179

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Unlike hotels, dorm rooms have no thermostat to crank up if you’re chilly in winter, so enter this bestselling down-alternative comforter from The Company Store. Not only will it keep you super toasty, but the sewn-through pockets secure the microfiber filling in place, which means no awkward bunching inside a duvet. The comforter, which has a lifetime guarantee, comes in your choice of 22 colors to match your dorm décor.

PediPocket Patented Foot Pocket Blanketvia amazon.com

PediPocket Patented Foot Pocket Blanket

$59.99

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This soft, plush fleece throw blanket is tailor-made for people who get cold feet. It has a patented foot pocket that traps heat to your feet, so you can feel warm and cozy all over 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.

The Laundress Collapsible Hampervia thelaundress.com

The Laundress Collapsible Hamper

$26

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The beauty of this durable fabric hamper is that it’s sturdy enough to handle full loads of laundry and yet lightweight (with handles) for easy transport to the laundry room. It folds flat when not in use (if that ever happens), and looks chic in the meantime. Hot tip: Avoid the laundry products that waste your money.

Studio 3B 3-Drawer Adjustable-Top Storage Cartvia bedbathandbeyond.com

Studio 3B 3-Drawer Adjustable-Top Storage Cart

$49.99

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It’s no secret that you’ll need extra storage in your dorm room, and this three-drawer set is just the thing. Not only is it lightweight and portable—optional wheels let you roll it where it needs to go and then lock in place, but the top extends up as needed to be a standing desk or a night table for a raised bed.

6-Tier Cotton Hanging Organizervia thelaundress.com

6-Tier Cotton Hanging Organizer

$40

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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 reinforced cotton 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. Don’t miss these other smart storage solutions.

ORG Slimline 50-Count Flocked Suit Hangersvia bedbathandbeyond.com

ORG Slimline 50-Count Flocked Suit Hangers

$24.99

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This 50-pack of velvety hangers are slim for maximizing storage, plus the velvet keeps clothes from sliding off and piling 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.

KUSSHI Makeup Organizervia kusshi.com

KUSSHI Makeup Organizer

From $109

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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. Next issue: Should you disinfect your makeup against coronavirus?

Pearl Boba Tea Plush Slidesvia smokonow.com

Pearl Boba Tea Plush Slides

$22

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Wear your Boba Tea obsession on your feet with these shamelessly adorable Pearl Boba Tea plush slides from cult-favorite Aussie brands Smoko. These lightweight slippers will be your go-to indoor shoes, keeping outside germs out of your dorm room and keeping your feet safely off the dorm floors.

3M Command Wire Hooksvia amazon.com

3M Command Wire Hooks

$7.73

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Get ready to hang your bag, backpack, coat, mirror, bulletin board, tapestry, and other sundry dorm essentials with these damage-free reusable adhesive hooks. They’ll cling to paint, wood, and tile without budging—until you remove them, and they won’t leave a trace. This value pack has seven hooks with 12 command refill strips.

Bedrisersvia amazon.com

Studio 3B 4-Piece USB Bed Lift Set

$44.17

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Bed risers are a sneaky and somewhat genius way to create more storage space. Simply place them under your bedposts to raise your bed by seven inches, accommodating shoes, extra linens, and more. As a bonus, this bed lift set has two grounded power outlets and two USB outlets to keep you powered up.

LapGear Designer Lap Deskvia amazon.com

LapGear Designer Lap Desk

$33.59

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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. Comes in seven modern geometric prints, including navy Ikat and gray damask. These are some of the best work-from-home essentials at Target.

Stockyfy Foldable Under Bed Storage Bagsvia amazon.com

Stockyfy Foldable Under Bed Storage Bags

$20.99

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With no hall closet, attic, or basement in which to stash your extra stuff, you’ll want a few under-bed boxes. 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. Use these professional storage hacks to banish clutter.

NFL XL Lineman Tailgate and Camping Folding Chairvia amazon.com

NFL XL Lineman Tailgate and Camping Folding Chair

$36.99

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Whether team sports happen this fall or not, you’re guaranteed to be socializing more 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.

Showaflops Antimicrobial Shower & Water Sandalsvia amazon.com

Showaflops Antimicrobial Shower & Water Sandals

$26.52

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Whether your bathroom is on-suite or communal, it’s likely to harbor plenty of germs, including mold, fungus, and bacteria. Showaflops will protect your feet from those nasties in showers, gyms and locker rooms, and then dry quickly thanks to their unique drainage holes. They come in cool patterns, too, like neon snakeskin and vintage camo, so you’ll actually want to wear them.

SafeRest Twin Extra Long (XL) Premium Hypoallergenic Waterproof Mattress Protectorvia amazon.com

SafeRest Twin Extra Long (XL) Premium Hypoallergenic Waterproof Mattress Protector

$24.95

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If you’ve ever battled bed bugs or known someone who’s battled bed bugs, you will not question why a bed bug blocking mattress protector is essential. Made of hypoallergenic cotton terry with a waterproof back coating, this fitted-sheet-like product with also protect against dust mites, allergens, bacteria, and other fluids (let’s say spilled coffee).

Haundry Mesh Shower Caddy Totevia amazon.com

Haundry Mesh Shower Caddy Tote

$8.99

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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. This mesh shower caddy corrals and organizes all your lotions and potions, with eight pockets plus a key ring and handles. Nearly 1,400 reviewers give it 4.5 stars, praising the tote as sturdy and spacious—even accommodating a towel and change of clothes.

CHI Tourmaline Ceramic 3-Piece Travel Setvia kohls.com

CHI Tourmaline Ceramic 3-Piece Travel Set

$79.99

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Compact is the name of the game with this do-it-all hair styling tool kit. You’ve got a mini blow dryer, a 3/4-inch flat iron, and a 1-inch curling iron, all fitting neatly into a handy dorm-size storage bag. And though they are small, they are mighty. The 1,000-watt travel dryer with dry hair quickly while preventing heat damage, and the tourmaline ceramic technology in the styling tools reduce frizz and static.

Pottery Barn Teen Cozy Lounge Around Pillow Cover and Insertvia pbteen.com

Pottery Barn Teen Cozy Lounge Around Pillow Cover and Insert

$88.50

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Let’s face it: You’ll be spending a lot of time in bed, so you want it to be comfy. Enter the Lounge Around Pillow from Pottery Barn Teen with cozy Sherpa cover. You can feel extra good about this giant teddy bear of a pillow because it’s made in a Fair Trade Certified facility and has been tested against more than 350 harmful substances. The cover is also machine washable for when you spill your coffee—again.

TaoTronics LED Desk Lampvia amazon.com

TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp

$23.99

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The fluorescent bulbs in your dorm room may seem super bright, but you’ll still want some task lighting in the form of a lamp desk. This sleek, minimalist lamp has soft, natural LED light with zero glare to help you avoid eye strain. It swivels left and right and up and down, has easily adjustable brightness and “light temperature,” and recharges your smartphone in the USB port at the same time.

restickity photo on a dorm wallCourtesy Restickity

Restickity

From $4.99

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Spice up your space with a gallery of your favorite Instagrams without surface damage to the dry wall. 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. Also sticks on fridges, mirrors, laptops, water bottles, and more.

welly excursion kitvia getwelly.com

Welly Excursion First Aid Kit

$34.95

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While we’re all focused on avoiding COVID-19, other accidents still happen—falls, scrapes, rashes, gashes, and more. That’s why you’ll want to pack Welly’s Excursion First Aid kit, with fabric bandages in various sizes (and designs, including tie-dye and multicolored sloths), 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.

Dog pillowvia allaboutvibe.com

Lifelike Custom Dog Pillow

From $32.97

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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 just missing that little furball), you will get unspeakable comfort from snuggling this ultra-realistic dog- or cat-shaped pillow. Comes in small, medium or large and gets five paws…er, stars, from nearly 1,000 fans.

Don’t miss the pandemic classroom essentials students are buying to stay safe this fall.

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