Dorm Room Essentials 2023


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Mar 09, 2024

Dorm Room Essentials 2023

While summer may still be in full swing, a new school year is just around the corner. And if you’re headed to college in the fall, now’s the time to start making a checklist of all the dorm room

While summer may still be in full swing, a new school year is just around the corner. And if you’re headed to college in the fall, now’s the time to start making a checklist of all the dorm room essentials you’ll need to make your future living space feel like home. While dorm shopping is easily one of the most exciting parts of starting college, it can quickly feel overwhelming. After all, your end goal is to make a small, bare-bones room feel like a welcoming, well-stocked home, and to do so, you need everything from bedding staples to cleaning supplies to miniature kitchen appliances.

Among the most important dorm room essentials every college kid needs: breathable sheets, a handy ... [+] shower caddy and a way to stay caffeinated.

To help you tackle the shopping process with confidence and ease, we went ahead and rounded up the best dorm room essentials, sorting the items into five categories: bedding, bathroom, kitchen, cleaning and décor. To be sure, this list isn’t exhaustive; instead, we focused on the items that are most necessary to dorm living, such as quick-drying bath towels and microwave-friendly cookware. To make your space feel like home to you, you’re certain to pick up additional pieces of décor and cooking supplies that fit your lifestyle and aesthetic. Just try—if possible—to prioritize space-saving, versatile pieces that can perform more than one function. “Multipurpose items are your dorm’s BFF,” says Emily White, content manager at Dormify. “The more double-duty items you can find, the less cluttered and more functional your dorm will be.”

To help you get ready for the new school year—and a brand new living space—here are 24 must-have products for your dorm.


Between 8 a.m. classes and all-nighters during exam season, college life isn’t typically associated with healthy sleep schedules. Therefore, it’s essential to invest in bedding staples that help ensure the rest you get is quality—even if you’re not getting your full eight hours. To start, you need a supportive pillow like this adjustable, breathable bestseller from Coop Home Goods, which stood out as the very best in our tested review of top-rated pillows. What sets the memory foam option apart is that it comes with an extra bag of shredded foam, allowing you to customize the pillow’s firmness to your liking.


Even if your dorm building has air conditioning, rooms tend to run hot—especially around move-in time. That’s why we love this sleek duvet from Buffy, which is woven from temperature-regulating eucalyptus lyocell fibers that help keep you cool. Another perk for college students: You don’t have to baby this duvet—it can go in the washer and dryer.


This affordable sheet set from Threshold, a Target brand, is a dorm room staple—and with good reason. To start, the sateen linens are Oeko-Tex certified and pill- and shrink–resistant. They also come in a suite of striking patterns to add a little flair to your bedding. Most importantly, the linens can fit extra long mattresses (which are common in dorm rooms) and the fitted sheet features a full-perimeter elastic band to ensure everything stays in place as you sleep.


If you haven’t already been pre-warned, let’s just say the twin XL mattresses that are standard in dorms aren’t known for being the most plush or supportive. Fortunately, there are a few measures you can take to up the comfort level. Ahead of move-in day, pick up a mattress topper like this hypoallergenic option from Parachute. Stuffed with a plush microfiber fill, this topper—which is wrapped in a silky 100% cotton sateen shell—adds a full three inches of height to your mattress. (Just know that it’s dry-clean only.)


While you can rely on your phone to be your alarm clock, a high-quality sunrise alarm clock helps you get out of bed feeling more refreshed and ready for class. Thirty minutes before your alarm goes off, the Hatch Restore Sound Machine emits a soft light that gradually brightens, gently waking you up by mimicking sunrise. To operate the clock, simply tap the soft-touch buttons on the device’s display or control the show with the free companion app. Bonus: The alarm clock doubles as a soft reading light that doesn’t strain your eyes, as well as a white noise machine capable of drowning out sound from neighboring rooms.

Pottery Barn

Made from recycled polyester that doesn’t hold onto water, this quick-drying mesh shower caddy is the perfect vessel for transporting your shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste and other toiletries to the bathroom. Choose between five chic hues: blush pink, light grey, dark grey, black and marble.

During your first year (or more) of dorm living, there’s a good chance you’ll be using a public shower on the floor of your residential hall. To help protect your feet from bacteria and fungus, it’s imperative to wear waterproof sandals like these bestselling Havaianas flip-flops that are built to last. Pro tip: If you’re between sizes, it’s wise to size up for a more comfortable fit. Also, while black flip-flops are classic, consider opting for one of the other 17 colors so you don’t get your sandals mixed up with someone else’s on your floor.


While walking to and from the shower in a bath towel is always an option, doing so in a soft robe is an infinitely more comfortable, luxurious experience. After weeks of testing, we believe the UGG Duffield II Robe is the absolute best robe you can buy, owing to its impressive warmth, weighty construction and streamlined silhouette. It also comes in a wide range of sizes (XXS to 3X) and nine muted colors.


A set of plush, absorbent towels is essential for every college student living in a dorm room. While testing some of the best bath towels on the market, this 100% cotton set from Amazon Basics stood out for its undefeated value, high absorbency and impressive quality. The eight-piece set includes two bath towels, two hand towels and four washcloths. (You can also buy each kind of towel individually.)


If you’re lucky enough to live in a dorm room that has its own private bathroom, this petite countertop organizer can help you stay organized. It includes a soap dispenser, a toothbrush holder and a canister for items like Q-tips and cotton balls, plus a tray to keep everything together.


Buying latte after latte from the campus café can get expensive, not to mention inconvenient when you need a jolt of caffeine late at night. If you live in a dorm, though, it might not make sense to buy a standard drip coffee maker that takes up a moderate amount of counter space. A better option is this dorm room–friendly miniature Keurig, which brews one cup of coffee at a time. Even more than its under-$100 price tag, we love its six different color options including dusty rose and dark green.


From storing your favorite beverages to fresh fruit to late-night snacks that keep you nourished during busy study sessions, a mini fridge can be an incredibly useful addition to your room. In particular, we love this retro-inspired model from Frigidaire, which stands just under three feet tall and comes in multiple pastel colors (plus black and white). Sweetening the deal, the pint-sized model also offers a handy ice cube tray and built-in bottle opener.


Dorm rooms aren’t usually equipped with a large kitchen (if they have one at all), which is why a petite microwave is a must-buy before move-in day. Featuring .7 cubic feet of interior space, this compact appliance measures just over 17 inches wide, 10 inches tall and 13 inches deep, making it ideal for small spaces. Another top perk for college students: You can mute the microwave if you need to use it before your dorm-mate is awake.


If you’re going to be relying on a microwave for many of your meals, you need cookware that can go in the appliance. Made from borosilicate glass, Anyday’s eight-piece set of microwave-friendly vessels includes four dishes of varying sizes and depth, each of which comes with its own lid. Plus, they double as stackable food storage containers that don’t take up too much space in a mini fridge.


One of the least glamorous parts of living in a dorm is having to lug your dirty clothes and linens to a shared laundry room (especially one that’s in a dark basement, where they’re often situated). That’s why it’s smart to have an easy-to-carry laundry bag like backpack-style option, which can easily fit three full loads of laundry. And for added comfort, the shoulder straps are padded.


Even if you have access to a dryer, you might not want to use it on your special or delicate garments. Enter this foldable laundry rack, which you can easily tuck away underneath a lofted bed or inside a closet when you’re not using it to air-dry your clothes. Despite its lightweight construction, the rack can hold up to 32 pounds across its 15 stain- and mildew–resistant rods. (Just make sure to space out your wet items so the whole thing doesn’t tip over.)


While shoes are always a pain to store, the task is especially difficult in a small room with little storage space. Instead of haphazardly shoving all your sandals, sneakers and winter boots under the bed or inside the closet, organize them in an over-the-door shoe rack. This space-saving option can hold up to 36 pairs of shoes and, because the back is lined with mesh, you don’t have to worry about your footwear falling out of place or scuffing your door.


For dustbunnies and other small messes, a cordless vacuum cleaner like this model from Black+Decker can come in handy. Not only is it lightweight and easy to maneuver, but it also comes equipped with LED floor lights that help you spot dirt in hard-to-reach areas. And because it’s slim, it takes up very little storage space.


If you suffer from allergies or you’re sensitive to poor air quality, a high-quality air purifier is a must. Standing just over 10 inches tall, the Levoit Core Mini is the perfect model for a dorm room. Thanks to its three-stage HEPA filtration, this pint-sized option is capable of capturing 99.97% of airborne particles. It’s also whisper-quiet so you don’t have to worry about the gentle hum keeping you up at night.


This Sherpa ottoman isn’t just a cozy piece of décor to zhush up your space. It also doubles as a discreet storage solution for stowing away sweaters, blankets or anything else that you want out of sight, as well as a comfortable chair or footrest.

Pottery Barn

If your room doesn’t get enough natural light for real plants, there are other ways to add some greenery to your space. This faux Tradescantia, a popular houseplant known for its cascading, variegated leaves, is so lifelike, it could fool almost anyone. The best part? It requires zero maintenance.


Dress up the drab laminate flooring in your door room with this Persian-inspired rug. What’s more, all of Ruggable’s offerings are machine washable, meaning you don’t have to be super protective of this rug. In the event you spill some coffee on it during a late-night, bleary-eyed study session, simply toss it in the washer and the stains and odors will lift right off.


Dorm room lighting typically leaves something to be desired so it’s smart to bring your own lamp (or two) to illuminate your space. Not only can this sleek desk lamp from Dormify brighten your working area, but its base features a two-prong outlet so you can charge your phone, Kindle or laptop. Choose between silver and gold.

Pottery Barn

If you’re drawn to the look of string lights but want something a little more unique and elegant, Pottery Barn Teen’s Curtain Leaf Waterfall String Lights take the concept up a notch. Faux leaves get intertwined with string lights in a cascading pattern, resulting in an illuminating piece of décor that adds a touch of green to your room.