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24 School Essentials Most People Forget to Buy

We searched high and low for these under-the-radar, but totally necessary school essentials—because you need a lot more than three-ring binders and pencils to kick the school year off right.

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


The one school supply you’ll all benefit from

After you’re done loading your shopping cart with the best back-to-school sales and discounts, you’re going to want to add this TP-Link AC1200 WiFi Range Extender to your list. Teens will be able to duck into the far corners of your home to finish their science projects with Internet access in peace, and college-age roommates will never fight over which bedroom has better WiFi again.

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New year, new eyes

Add a pair (or a few) of new glasses from Zenni Optical to your back to school shopping list, because every parent knows kids tend to lose, break, or damage at least one pair a year. These frames happen to be less than the cost of a sandwich, too. You’ll want to check out our list of tips to extend the life of your favorite glasses, too.

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Organic, vegan, and…affordable?

We know—this sounds like one of those “circle the word that doesn’t belong” homework assignments, but it’s not. Hello Bello Organic Kids Multi-Vitamin Gummies are tasty, vegan, and shockingly affordable. It’s the easy way to make sure your little ones are getting all their A’s, B’s, C’s, and other important vitamins and minerals.

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A better way to print book reports

Essays, book reports, and other important projects often still require hard copies turned in on time—and you’ll need a new printer for that. Treat your honors-worthy learner to an Epson Eco Tank ET 2760 wireless, cartridge-free printer. It prints in color, scans, and copies in a breeze.

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Get school uniforms brighter than ever

Keep crisp, white shirts just as clean-looking as the day you bought them with Lemi Shine Natural Washing Machine Cleaner. A clean laundry machine is the only way to fully rinse your best student’s clothes free of dirt, grime, and sediment. It’s one of the easiest ways to whiten your laundry without bleach.

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For the inevitable cuts and scrapes

Your back-to-school list probably doesn’t include wound care items, but if you’re shopping for active kids, you’ll want to add CVS Health Manuka Honey Wound Gel to your shopping cart. It’s an easy, affordable way to use natural ingredients like active manuka honey (which has some pretty incredible benefits, by the way) to help keep your little one going without skipping a beat.

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Load up on hair clips

Every experienced long-haired student will tell you the same thing—you can never have enough hair ties, clips, and accessories to get you through the school year. Amaryllis sells tween, teen, and trend-setting adult hair accessories affordable enough to buy doubles of, so you won’t have to stress about lost clips by the time the second semester arrives.

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Keep teen drivers safe

If they’re driving themselves to and from class each day, you can remove a layer of stress by installing a wireless touch screen Nextbase Dash Cam in their car. It uses Amazon Alexa, WiFi, GPS, and emergency SOS technologies to keep drivers of all level safer on the road.

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Load up on lip balms

Schools don’t seem to realize how important lip balms can be as the weather gets crisp, because it’s hard to focus on sounding out new words, class presentations, and raising your hand with the right answers if your mouth hurts. Try popping an eos Organic Lip Balm Sphere in each of their bags, cubbies, and lockers. They’re an inexpensive way to keep them learning more comfortably.

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They’ll actually put these sweatshirts on without arguing

Every parent knows getting school-age kids to actually wear hoodies and jackets when the temperature dips can be near-impossible. Skip the arguments and backtalk with Cubcoats 2-in-1 Transforming Hoodies in designs they’ll actually get excited to wear. They transform almost instantly from plush toys into playground-perfect zip-up hoodies and come in a variety of animal and character designs, and are easily one of the best Amazon products you’ll use every day.

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Velcro closures simplify your morning routine

Streamline their get-out-the-door routines with sneakers that won’t come undone, require hourly lace checks, or result in painful trips to the nurse’s office with these Saucony Kids’ Jazz Court Sneakers. They keep all shoelace-related issues in check and come in little kid and big kid sizes.

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Speaking of sneakers…

Don’t even think about letting sweaty feet go back to school without Arm & Hammer Odor Defense Shoe Refresher Spray packed in their gym bags. It breathes new life into the stinkiest shoes, extends their wearability, and encourages positive hygiene habits.

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You’ll definitely need these colorful helpers

After you buy an entire forest of loose-leaf paper and binders, you’ll want to stock up on Yoobi plastic index dividers. Your A+ student will enjoy staying organized like Marie Kondo with ease with bright, joy-sparking colors.

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Healthy meals have never been easier

Whether your teen is learning to pitch in some dinner-making effort or you’re looking for a direct path to keeping your college student’s meals nutritious and easy, an Instant Pot is a great solution. It uses smart WiFi-enabled technology to pressure cook, slow cook, make homemade rice and yogurt dishes, and even bake a cake. It’s one of our favorite tech gifts, too.

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Save money boosting their reading skills

Early, intermediate, and even advanced elementary school readers learn to love books with ReadingIQ, the smartphone app for budding readers that looks and feels like screen time, but actually gets your little ones reading thousands of popular titles after taking a short reading assessment to find the best level for them to start at. They’ll browse Disney and other popular titles, never rip a page, get a game-like trophy for hitting their 20-minutes a day goal, and wow you with their continued progress. A one-year subscription covers up to three children under separate profiles and costs less than a single hardcover book.

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Start healthy sleep habits

People of ages and stages can benefit from a better night of sleep, which is why this LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine is great for kids heading back to school, stressed teens in need of a good snooze, and parents looking to feel a little more rested. It’s one of our favorite sleep products for those who benefit from white noise because it offers 20 sounds, a sleep timer, and other high-tech features to keep just about anyone counting sheep.

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Kick acne to the curb

Tell your teen they’ll be ready to start the school year fresh-faced and bursting with confidence with this VITAMINscrub from CLEARstem. It’s a gentle daily exfoliator the works harder on blackheads and chin acne than you do on packing lunches, is pore-safe, environmentally-friendly, and made in the USA with non-toxic ingredients. Find out what causes chin acne in the first place.

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Never lose anything again

Place a smart tracking Tile Pro device on their keys, in their backpacks, gym bags, in the trunk of their car without them noticing, or just about anywhere or on anything else you’d hate to lose (them included). It’s one of the best-selling items on Amazon thanks to its ease of use, thoughtful design, and affordability.

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Kids need to ride to school safely

Make sure you and anyone you carpool to school with has a legally-compliant car seat for your child to sit in as they ride, play car games, and talk about what they’re learning. Believe it or not, most American states require special car seats or boosters for kids up until age eight, with some states demanding till age 10 or 100 pounds. The Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is a smart decision because it grows with your little one, transforming from a baby seat to a toddler-friendly safety chair, all the way through an easy-to-use booster for children 100 pounds or less.

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Calling all leggings lovers

If she’s prone to wearing her leggings with just about everything, obsessed with athleisure, or hitting practice just about every day, consider adding HEX Performance Anti-Stink Laundry Detergent to your back to school list. It is formulated with athletic gear in mind, working hard on odors, bacteria, and the stains an active lifestyle can cause.

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Now this is smart

Tweens and young women alike will thank you for the monthly gift of less stress when they head back to school with a new set of Ruby Love Period Underwear. She won’t have to worry about surprises, leaks, or unexpected incidents.

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Add a self-charging vacuum robot to the honor roll

The iRobot Roomba E5 Robot Vacuum takes the fuss out of talking live-at-home kids into cleaning up after themselves and makes it easy for college-bound young adults to get in the habit of keeping tidy spaces. It’s WiFi-connected, works with Alexa, smart-phone controlled, and even charges itself. Incredible, right? Remind them some Massachusetts Institute of Technology genius studied hard in school to invent this and make the world a better (cleaner) place.

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Better snacking

Skip the sugary neon-colored yogurts and opt for healthier whole fat, lower-sugar options like Siggi’s Icelandic Milk Yogurt. It’s a slightly sweet, creamy after school treat with well-balanced protein, calcium, and dessert-like appeal. We’re also big fans of these 11 after-school snacks nutritionists feed their own kids.

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Clean skin for the win

Washing a long day at school’s grime and natural oils off is one of the best things they can do to keep their skin in pristine condition. Face washing is a must for keeping acne-causing bacteria at bay, and SLMD Skincare Salicyclic Acid Cleanser is the perfect way to achieve flawless skin when you’re already an acne-prone teen. You know it’s good because Dr. Pimple Popper herself formulated it. Now, read up on these tips for a healthy school year.

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