Going to college? Or planning to live on your own in an apartment? Dorm room essentials are very important for you to organize and make every space useful. Saving enough space is an effective way to maximize your living area.
A few years ago, I packed all my stuff from my 16m2 apartment, and I moved my stuff into another room of about the same size. This feels like I’m going to college all over again!
It reminded me of all the things that I wanted to buy when I first moved into my college dorm, what I needed, and what I didn’t touch at all.
It brought back all the memories of how I was able to manage my room design to create the best space-saving layout possible. What I learned was that how you did your dorm decor helped your college-student life.
In this post, I will help you by outlining 11 critical and essential items for your college dorm or apartment. Especially if space is limited, these are the items for you!
List Of 11 Dorm Room Essentials
When you go to college, dorm rooms are your everything! It’s your all-in-one space – study area, sleeping area, dining, etc.
Despite the small space, your dorm room will be your home away from home. So you need to make sure that your college dorm room will bring out the best college experience you can have.
But what do college students need to put in their dorm room lists? This article lists 11 necessary items for your college dorm and apartment to make it feel cozy, organized, and clean!
1. Amazon Prime Membership
An Amazon Prime membership is the best thing ever. Especially if you’re studying, it is the ultimate way to get things if you don’t have a car.
I ordered so many things with Amazon Prime. Almost all of the items below I got through Amazon Prime. I don’t have a car, so it was the perfect option for me.
From items for my dorm to snacks and toiletries, I ordered them from Amazon.
An Amazon Prime student membership is only $6.49 per month for students, with a 6-month free trial for new members! If you are not a new member, you can still get a discounted student membership.
2. Proper Bedding
I will start with the most important part of the room: the dorm bed. You will do a lot of sleeping, so it’s important to have a good bed with proper bedding.
Depending on what dorm room or apartment you’re moving into, you will already have a bed (or not). When you do not have a bed, I would recommend just getting a simple frame and a good mattress that you can lie on.
When I studied for a semester in California, I also stayed in a dorm with the mattress and the bed frame already there.
The beds in dorms can be old and disgusting, depending on the specifics of the college and the dorm itself.
My roommate always said about the beds: ‘You don’t want to know what happened there.’
If you’re not into germs, you should probably invest in a mattress protector. Just in case. I love this mattress protector. It’s waterproof, and it comes with a warranty – that’s what we want, right?!
3. Electric Fan
Dorms rarely have good air conditioning – if you have any at all. The air conditioning is mostly centralized, making it hotter when it’s already hot and colder when it’s already cold.
For the cold we already have our nice warm blanket, now we need something for the heat.
I would say go for an electric fan! It was my best investment ever – I have to admit I studied in California, so I needed that.
Honestly, I would not have survived my semester there without an electric fan!
When I’m back home in the Netherlands, I still need the fan, just using it a lot less.
4. Ear Plugs
Since I’ve lived in dorms, earplugs go with me everywhere. College dorms can be noisy, depending on where the party is that night. Every night of the week, there can be some unexpected party or gathering that pops up.
It might be next to your room.
If you wake up because of hard noises, invest in a pair of earplugs. I use the same earplugs when going out (yes, it’s important to protect your hearing).
Besides those, I always have a pack of disposable earplugs as well – just in case.
Earplugs also come in handy when exams are around the corner! When you’re studying in the library, people discussing or typing could distract you. When you’re doing your exams, bring an extra pair in case you are distracted by the twitching or scratching.
5. Laundry Basket
Doing laundry is much more convenient in a basket than anything else. I used a plastic bag for a long time until my roommate decided that enough was enough and gifted me one for my birthday.
I don’t know why I didn’t get to that earlier. This is different from a laundry hamper as this is more practical and appropriate for college.
I highly recommend you think ahead and buy a collapsible laundry basket. The more often you plan to do your laundry, the smaller the size of the one you’ll need.
Let me tell you that I didn’t have much laundry left at the end of my semester, as the laundry machine ate all my socks. I swear I had to buy 20 new pairs within 4 months. In California, I didn’t even wear that many socks.
So yeah, a laundry bag would be great to prevent your small items from being lost (like socks and underwear).
6. Collapsible Drying Rack
Another critical item for your apartment or dorm is a collapsible drying rack.
It’s great to wash your laundry, but what if you have nowhere to hang it? The first couple of weeks, I would hang my laundry all over the room, so we decided to buy this drying rack.
The great thing is that a collapsible drying rack allows you to dry your clothes quickly when you have a fresh wash, and you can put it away when you’re not using it.
7. Shower Caddies
During the first weeks of living in my dorm, I would bring my toiletries back and forth to the bathroom. That’s the worst idea ever, let me tell you! I kept forgetting things and needed to go in and out of the shower continuously.
Therefore I recommend a shower caddy – 100%.
It will hold everything for you; shampoo, conditioner, soap, razors, and more. It makes showering and keeping everything in one place much easier!
8. Desk Organizer
The issue with dorms is that you have so little space. I am a naturally chaotic person, meaning that my desk is always a total mess. When I invested in one of these desk organizers, life got better.
It keeps all your school supplies in one place, and your desk looks tidy. I never need to turn my room upside down looking for scissors or a pen! This is one of the better dorm room ideas since it not only helps you manage your clutter but, more importantly, helps you in your studies during college life!
9. Storage Space
Yes, dorms have limited space. That’s something you’re prepared for when you come there. Something you’re not ready for when you arrive there is the limited storage space.
I brought 2 suitcases of clothing for 6 months (good thing I’m now a minimalist, that saves a lot of hassle). BUT I only had one drawer to place everything.
Hell no, that was not going to work for me.
What I did was hang everything in this storage box for hanging clothes. It helped me keep my clothes neat while creating a lot of space. These storage bins will help you a lot to manage stuff for your dorm life. No need for a dresser, as these shelving ideas will do the trick for you.
In addition to that, I bought these foldable storage cubes for my electronics, socks, and more.
10. Extension Cord
It seems like they’re always putting the electric plugs in the most inconvenient places. Which is why I bought an extension cord.
This extension cord is great, you can charge up to 6 electronic devices, and the surge protector prevents electronic devices from power surges.
When you’re living in your apartment, an extension cord with an on/off switch is a great way to cut your electric bill in half!
Slippers are essential, for sure. I love them!
It is so much easier to get out of bed when you know your feet don’t have to touch the ice-cold floor.
Warm feet are all that a person needs.
Besides, when you know your feet don’t have to touch the cold floor, you’ll get out of bed quicker. When you get out of bed quicker, you will get more done and be more productive.
So, slippers make you get more done and be more productive. Who doesn’t want that? Get them now!
Conclusion – Dorm Room Essentials
This is my list of top essential and critical items for your college dorm or apartment. It is not an exhaustive list of everything you need to bring. I did not touch the obvious items like cleaning supplies, curtains, clothes, linen, comforters, linens, tapestry, pillows, utensils, backpacks, memo boards, and more.
I simply wanted to remind you not to forget to bring these items to your college dorm. These are the basic essentials that will not only help your dorm room decor but your dorm living in general. These simple life hacks can help you once you get older and you experience managing room storage.
Do you have some dorm essentials that could be added to this list?
Founder of Spark Nomad, Radical FIRE, Journalist
Expertise: Personal finance and travel content
Education: Bachelor of Economics at Radboud University, Master in Finance at Radboud University, Minor in Economics at Chapman University.
Over 200 articles, essays, and short stories published across the web.
Experience: Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.