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25 Dorm Room Essentials to Stock Up on Before They Sell Out

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Let’s state the obvious: Sending your child off to college for the first time in a post-pandemic world is nerve-wracking. To that end, making sure they are packed and ready to go can be even more daunting. So you might as well start getting those dorm room essentials together—especially considering that the shelves at Target, Walmart and HomeGoods are typically pretty picked over by the end of August. (And you best believe that bedding set you’ve been eying will be long gone before syllabus week).

From what we’ve seen, dorm rooms haven't changed much since our college days and if that's the case, small space storage hacks are the key to making sure your college student doesn’t feel like the walls are closing in on them (forced triples, we're looking at you). Think: bed risers, desk organizers and slim kitchen appliances that can squeeze into even the most narrow nooks and crannies.

So below, find 25 dorm room essentials—from bedding, decor and appliances to must-have organizers—that will help your kid stay organized and thrive throughout their freshman year.

THE 25 BEST DORM ROOM ESSENTIALS, AT A GLANCE

COOKWARE

STORAGE & ORGANIZERS

BED & BATH

Amazon

1. Ocm College Dorm Room Essentials 16-piece Starter Pak

Best Bedding and Bath Bundle

This comforter set is your one-stop-shop for, well, pretty much everything. In addition to a comforter and a set of shams, it comes with two sets of sheets, a throw blanket, a mattress topper and an extra set of towels. Better yet, it’s available in 45 colorways, so you're bound to find one that fits your student’s vibe.

Casper

2. Casper Comfy Mattress Topper

Best Mattress Topper

Sadly, dorm room mattresses haven’t gotten any comfier since we last slept on them. Which means your kid may need a heavy-duty mattress topper if you want them to have any chance of sleeping well. Designed with three cooling layers—including latex, graphite and memory foam—this topper uses AirScape technology to keep air circulating and dissipate heat, so you feel cool all night long. What’s more, it uses Casper’s signature base layer of memory foam that prevents sliding and can offer added support (which is a major plus for back sleepers). Basically, it’s everything you’d want in a memory foam Casper mattress with cooling capabilities—without the price tag.

Amazon

3. Mellanni Bed Sheet Set

Best Sheet Set

These microfiber sheets have racked up over 170,000 five-star reviews, making them the most popular ones on Amazon. With 42 different colors and patterns to choose from, you’ll have no problem finding a set that fits any color scheme. Plus, buyers say the sheets get even softer after washing (which might encourage your kids to do laundry for once).

Amazon

4. Plx Set Of Two Memory Foam Pillows

Best Pillows

Rated as the best pillows on Amazon, these bamboo/polyester pillows are brilliant for sleepers of all types. They have just the right amount of soft and are excellent for helping you keep cool even on the hottest summer nights. They’re also machine washable, unlike down and latex pillows, so you can just toss ‘em in your washer with your regular linen load. (They even come with a 10-year warranty.) The manufactuer suggests tossing in the dryer for ten to 15 minutes (or leaving in a sunny window) to help them fluff up before using, but if you prefer a denser feel, you can skip that step.

Bearaby

5. Bearaby Tree Napper

Best Weighted Blanket

After a long day of classes (or tailgates), your new student is going to want to unwind in a cozy bed. This weighted blanket was awarded 89 points out of 100 in a PureWow100 review for its eucalyptus-based TENCEL Lyocell fabric—which wicks away moisture, should you start to feel toasty—and its chic chunky knit design. “I felt like I took the best naps of my life with it, which made me feel less anxious throughout the day,” one of our reviewers told us.

Amazon

6. Tuffen Adjustable Bed Riser With Power Outlet And Usb Ports

Best Bed Risers

Equipped with two fast-charging USB ports and an electrical outlet, we love how this set of eight bed risers allows for three adjustable height options—including 3-inch, 5-inch and 8-inch—and includes a 6-foot power cord that makes it easy to reach any outlet in your dorm room. Oh, and did we mention that it's made from sturdy, anti-scratch plastic that can hold up to 1,500 pounds?

Amazon

7. Idesign Orbz Plastic Bathroom Shower Tote

Best Shower Caddy

We’re calling this a dorm room essential because if your kids are smart (and we know they are), they’ll store it in their room instead of the hall bathroom, where shampoos tend to mysteriously disappear. Opt for a plastic version (like this one) so it’s easier to wipe down and is more durable.

havly

8. Havly Classic Bath Towel

Best Bath Towel

Instead of fighting over whose towel is whose, this brand created an option with bleach-proof, color hanging loops that are engineered for easy hanging. Sure, you could go with a cheaper option, but chances are those towels are going to be threadbare and falling apart by the end of the school year. But this plush, fast-drying towel is made from 100 percent cotton (and can last up to 1,000 washes, according to the manufacturer).

COOKWARE

Bed Bath and Beyond

9. Jonathan Adler Limited Edition Keurig

Best Coffee Maker

Behold: a slim, chic coffee maker that can actually add to a dorm room’s aesthetic. There’s a reason this K-mini coffee maker is a consistent best-seller; it’s effective, efficient and affordable, and it can deliver a steaming cup of coffee without all the bells and whistles. Just add water, pop in a K-Cup pod and press brew. Not to mention that you’ll be hard-pressed to find another appliance that can elevate a mini fridge like this one can.

Anyday

10. Anyday ​​the College Dorm Set

Best Food Container Set

This four-piece set of microwavable cookware is a *must* for days when the food hall line is out the door. Made from heat-resistant borosilicate glass, these microwave-, dishwasher-, freezer- and oven-safe containers allow you to cook pretty much anything—from proteins to pasta. The lid’s special silicone design keeps steam and moisture in during cooking (essential for the microwave) and releases excess air through the knob vent. What’s more, the knob also sits flush on the lid when it's pressed down, so that the dish is stackable, airtight and leakproof.

Amazon

11. Rca Single Door Mini Fridge

Best Mini Fridge

Your new student is going to work up an appetite by hitting the books. Make sure they have a spot to store all of their yummy treats for when the dining halls are closed. Whether they’re stocking up on fruits and veggies or pints of Ben & Jerry’s, this mini fridge will keep everything cool and fresh.

STORAGE & ORGANIZERS

Container Store

12. Iris Under Bed Drawer

Best Storage Drawers

Your student is going to need extra storage—and lots of it. We love these oversized, stackable drawers because they can easily slide under the bed and store everything from shoes and coats to skincare to underwear.

Amazon

13. Magic Space Saving Clothes Hangers

Best Clothing Hangers

This four-pack of cascading hangers is the ultimate closet hack, where one single hanger can hold 9 garments (up to 30 pounds). Plus, each hanger is made from reinforced polypropylene, so they’re sturdy enough to hang everything from t-shirts to that ultra-padded Canada Goose jacket that helps them survive walking across campus come winter.

Amazon

14. Amazon Basics Under The Bed Storage

Best Under-Bed Storage

These zippered bags are fantastic for storing anything that’s out of season (like those sweaters and jackets your kid will eventually need as the weather cools). They stack on top of each other to save space and easily slide in and out from under your bed.

Amazon

15. Syncwire Cord Organizer

Best Cord Organizer

Trust us, there is nothing more frustrating than laying in your bed and having your charger fall to the floor repeatedly. Those dorm beds are tall and getting in and out of them is no easy feat. Stick these handy cord holders to the side of the bed frame and string multiple chargers through them so no wires are crossed and everything will stay within arm's reach at all times.

Wayfair

16. Doon Wooden Desk Organizer

Best Desktop Organizer

This cottagecore-style organizer has a spot for everything: textbooks, a pencil holder and drawers for homework assignments, post-it pads, paperclips and more. Plus, the natural wood finish adds a rustic touch to any desk.

CRATE AND BARREL

17. Russell + Hazel Acrylic Weekly Dry-erase Calendar

Best Wall Calendar

Speaking of desk organizers, this transparent dry-erase calendar won’t clutter up your walls (but its weathered gold hardware will spruce up your decor). Oh, and while you’re at it, why not move your pens, keys and notebooks to the wall with the full set?

Amazon

18. Giftgarden Over The Door Coat Rack

Best Over-the-Door Storage

This coat rack is the ideal place to toss in miscellaneous items like dorm keys, school ids and wallets when they get back to their rooms. Plus, the attached hooks allow for easy access to their favorite sweatshirts and jackets.

Container Store

19. The Container Store Over-the-door Shoe Bag

Best Shoe Storage

Limited closet space calls for creative storage solutions—especially for things that take up precious floor space like shoes. Enter: This over-the-door organizer that has 24 compartments to hold up to 12 pairs. “It’s very strong, hangs well and is exactly what I needed,” confirms one buyer.

Amazon

20. Songmics 3-tier Metal Rolling Cart

Best Storage Cart

Speaking of extra storage, this rolling cart is both stylish and functional. The open shelving makes it easy to display framed photos, stack books or store yummy snacks.

DECOR & OTHER ESSENTIALS

Leti

21. Leti Usb Battery Rechargeable Wall Light

Best Task Lighting

Perfect for when one roommate’s cramming for a test, and the other’s looking to sleep in, this battery-powered wall light is the ultimate study buddy. It comes with an adhesive magnetic mount (meaning, it’s RA-approved) and its smart motion sensor can detect movement up to 10 feet away. Oh, and did we mention that you can also use the base as a desk lamp? Two birds, one piece of (ultra-chic) lighting.

Amazon

22. Chrislley Slim Laundry Hamper

Best Laundry Hamper

Now that they’re going to have a roommate, it’s time your kid finally starts using a laundry basket instead of just leaving a pile of dirty clothes on the floor. This ultra-slim number is ideal for dorm living because it can fit virtually anywhere, and it’s equipped with wheels and a handle, making it easy to haul a full load down to the laundry room.

Ruggable

23. Ruggable X Jonathan Adler Op Art Charcoal Rug

Best Rug

The quickest way to make a dorm room feel more homey is to add an area rug to the space. The only problem with rugs and dorm rooms is that they tend to get dirty fast. Aside from this show-stopping design, we love this option from Ruggable because you can just throw it in the wash with the rest of your load and it’ll come out good as new.

Walmart

24. Better Homes & Gardens Thin Brass Over-the-door Mirror

Best Full-Length Mirror

A full-length mirror is a must for those daily outfit checks before running to class. This modern brass version can easily be hung over the door or secured to a wall—and it includes two adjustable over-the-door hardware hooks and two metal keyhole hangers for vertical hanging.

Amazon

25. Command Strips Variety Pack

Best Adhesive Strips

RAs typically aren’t thrilled when students hang things on their walls with nails. Luckily, these easy-to-remove adhesive strips hang all of their posters without causing damage (and will keep your kid in their good graces come the end of the year).


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