13 Essentials for Your Dorm Room

dorm room essentials

I vividly remember moving into my freshman dorm. My roommate – a stranger at the time but a best friend now – was unpacking her things while we laughed hysterically. She’d brought caution tape (“For a theme party!”), steak knives (we never figured that one out), and enough canned soup to feed an army. Fast forward a couple weeks and we were paying for cabs to go back and forth to Target, getting all of the things that we actually needed in our dorm. Don’t make the same mistakes we did – not that anyone in their right mind is packing caution tape. Here are 13 essentials you need for your dorm room to make your transition to campus living much smoother.



ALL the storage – but make sure it’s strategic and doesn’t take up too much space. We’re talkin’ under the bed storage, on-the-desk storage, over-the-door hanging shoe storage. Your dorm room will probably have a dresser, a few closet shelves, and a couple desk drawers, but you’ll want more than that. The easiest way to keep the cramped space from becoming cluttered is by having a spot for everything which means: storage.


Cleaning supplies

It wasn’t until I lived on my own for a week or so that I realized how many little things my parents graciously kept stocked up around the house, like paper towels and Tylenol. Definitely pack a small box of cleaning supplies, like the aforementioned paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and maybe a handheld vacuum. Otherwise, those coffee rings and chip crumbs are going to accumulate fast.


Shower caddy & shower shoes

It’s super handy to have a waterproof tote you can just grab when you’re heading to the bathroom to shower. Stock it up with your shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razor, loofah – whatever you need. Not only does this mean you won’t be leaving a trail of slippery, soapy bottles down your hallway, it gives you a place to store all your toiletries in your dorm.


Command Strips/Hooks

Most dorm rooms don’t allow you to hang anything with nails, and regular tape can destroy the paint. Command Strips are the besssssst for hanging up photos, art, calendars, and anything else you use to warm up those dorm room walls. Command Hooks are awesome for keeping things organized; use them to hang up your backpack, purses, towels, and so on.


Microwave & mini fridge

Even if you plan to eat 99.9% of your meals in the dining hall, you’re going to want a microwave and mini fridge. You’ll end up using your microwave for 3 am pizza rolls when you’re up late studying (read: getting back from a party) and you can stock your fridge with snacks that are much cheaper to buy in bulk. Save some money by checking for these items on a secondhand marketplace.


Comfy blanket

In addition to your typical bedding, bring a comfy throw blanket with you. I used mine all the time for quick naps between classes or wrapping myself up like a human burrito when I was studying at my desk.


Ear plugs

Seriously, invest in a box of ear plugs. When my darling came back from a night out and needed to talk to her long distance boyfriend at 2 am: ear plugs. When I felt ill and wanted to go to bed at 6 pm on a Friday night: ear plugs. It can be loud living in a dorm, especially when everyone is on a different schedule. Ear plugs are your friend.


Hamper with wheels, handles, or a removable bag

It’s a pain in the butt to lug an overloaded laundry basket to the dorm’s laundry room. Save yourself the hassle (and a pulled muscle) by getting yourself a super portable hamper.


Drying rack

Speaking of doing laundry – not every item can go straight from the washer into the dryer. Invest in a small, fold up drying rack so that you have a place to put your delicate pieces as they dry. Otherwise, you’ll either have a bunch of shrunken, damaged articles of clothing or a dorm room covered in damp fabric.


Extension cord and power strip

Not only will there not be enough outlets in your dorm room, they also won’t be in convenient places. Grab a power strip so you have more outlets and an extension cord so you can have outlets exactly where you need them.


Wall calendar

Not only is this helpful for keeping all of your tests, social events, extracurriculars, breaks, and everything else organized, it is a great way of planning with your roommate. For example, if your roommate has an exam marked on the calendar at 8 am Friday morning, you’ll know to be extra quiet that Thursday night. If you mark a visit from friends over a long weekend, your roommate can plan accordingly. It’s nice to be aware of each other’s schedules, whether it’s academic, social, or otherwise.



It’s no fun walking down a cold hallway to use the restroom in the middle of the night. Treat yourself to a cozy pair of slippers that you can keep by your bed for those instances… and really, whenever you’re in your dorm room. Who doesn’t like being cozy?


First aid kit

Up until now, your parents have probably kept your house stocked with Band-Aids, Neosporin, itch cream, Advil, and the like. Make a small first aid kit for your dorm room that has everything you might need if you cut yourself shaving or wake up with a migraine. Your injured or sick self will thank you later!


These items are things I would highly, highly encourage you to bring with you to college, but this list certainly isn’t exhaustive. And, no matter how well you plan, you’ll always discover you need something else. My advice: ask for Target gift cards as a graduation/going away gift. Trust me, you’ll use them.