A couple years ago, before my oldest went to college I polled all the young adults amongst our family and friends to find out what they really used in school. Now my son Peter is going into his junior year and my daughter Hannah is heading into sophomore year of college, and by now we’ve put together a pretty lean and mean dorm room list of true ESSENTIALS!
Three major edits to these lists after my kids have been living away at school
• ONE • A fan is a must, no matter the climate or time or year!
• TWO • A hand-held garment steamer is preferable to the iron + tabletop ironing board, and for the guys, Downy Wrinkle Releaser is a must!
• THREE • Detergent pods were highly disliked amongst all the college kids I talked to – sometimes they wouldn’t dissolve in the wash OR get stuck inside a piece of clothing and actually stain it. A small bottle of liquid detergent is much preferred!
Read on for our updated-for-2019 woman’s guide of dorm room essentials…..
many of the same items as the guy’s dorm room essentials guide but with a lot more cute options!!
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WOMEN’S DORM ROOM ESSENTIALS GUIDE
DORM ROOM BEDDING
Vinyl Mattress Encasement
I see some sites claim that this isn’t essential, but for less than $20 for an item you’ll be able to use and wash year after year all through college, this is a no-brainer to me!
Memory Foam Topper
This will help substantially to make the standard issue mattress more comfortable.
An 18″ mattress pad will keep the memory foam from sliding and makes it cooler to sleep on too.
Twin XL Sheet Sets
We love these sheets that have a pocket on the side because most dorm rooms are too small for a bedside table for your cell phone – also known as your alarm clock, TV, radio and morning newspaper!
100% cotton sheets are cool and breathable. Microfiber sheets are another good option for college because they don’t get pilly, hold up well and are really affordable. FYI some people find this material hot to sleep on.
The quilt and comforter are definitely places where you can forego the Twin XL size for just the regular Twin, which gives you so many more options!
Twin Lightweight Down Comforter or Down-Alternative Comforter with Duvet Cover
The basic comforter + duvet combo is GREAT if you don’t love sleeping with a top sheet on your bed (or kick it off every single night like a certain girl I know and love). You can throw the duvet in the wash with your sheets and putting a duvet back on a twin sized comforter is not hard at all.
The other option is to just go straight to a twin comforter without a duvet.
Keep in mind a lightweight comforter is best for layering – dorm rooms are usually on the warm side!
I am a huge fan of white bedding at home, but for a dorm room that is also a hang out space consider a pattern or color that won’t show stains from tea, Ramen noodles, etc. because chances are this piece of your bedding won’t get washed frequently (or at all!) during the school year!
Here are a few options and sources for pretty comforters and duvets (click on the picture to follow the link).
DORM ROOM STORAGE
I strongly recommend you wait until you move into the dorm to figure out what size storage containers will fit in your space. Many dorm room beds can be raised up to give you storage underneath – a lot of students use this space for their fridge, storage drawers or bins.
So functional for the storage of snacks, water bottle and mug, extra toiletries, etc.
Hanging Closet Storage
This is great for not only shoes but also rolled up towels and other storage.
OTHER DORM ROOM NECESSITIES
Removable Hooks For Towels
This one is strong enough for a wet towel but doesn’t mark the walls.
Removable Picture Hanging Strips
Most colleges prohibit nails or anything that will damage the walls.
Hand-Held Clothes Steamer*
We bought this for Hannah this year because it’s compact and convenient. The same one is on Amazon if you have a Prime membership and love to use it for anything and everything like I do. I also have the Target Red card that gives you 5% off all purchases and free shipping, and price shop between the two frequently.
Instead of the steamer you could opt for the traditional…..
Iron & Tabletop (or more likely, floor!) Ironing Board*
Peter actually did use his iron this year for special events and formals. When your clean clothes sit in the laundry basket until you wear them, yup, sometimes things get a little wrinkly!
Downy Wrinkle Releaser – Peter’s favorite – it makes clothes smell a little fresher too!
Liquid Laundry Detergent
My kids and their friends and cousins strongly disliked detergent pods!
One mug that is big enough for soup or cereal as well as tea or cocoa is ideal. I got this one for Hannah and all her besties, as they are all going to school out of state (and the town of their high school is on the mug 🙂 ). A reader suggested a plate, fork and knife too – just one of each will do for the dorm room.
Glass water bottle
Many colleges are going green and don’t even sell beverages in plastic bottles. A reusable glass bottle with a silicone protective sleeve is great for bringing to class, filling up at the cafeteria to bring back to the dorm room, and taking to the gym.
Most dorms have cleaning supplies such as a vacuum, mop, etc. for students to use, but a dustbuster is great for small clean ups.
* These are all things you can coordinate with your roommate. A lot of colleges have mini refrigerators and microwaves (and combo fridge/microwaves) for rent for the school year. Before you purchase, inquire with your school since these items are a pain to move in and out and store over the summer.
DORM ROOM DEALS TO KEEP IN MIND
Bed, Bath & Beyond – College Savings Pass: 20% off your entire order online and in-store, plus free shipping, with your .edu email address from your college
Target – extra 5% off + free shipping with Red card
The Amazon Prime Student deal – it’s free for 6 months and then 50% off Prime membership, which can be cancelled at anytime
TJMaxx – Free shipping over $89
A FEW TIPS FOR SHOPPING FOR DORM ROOM ESSENTIALS
- Shop around. I did a ton of price comparison before shopping and writing this post. Most of these items are the actual things we bought for Hannah’s dorm room.
- Layers are great for a dorm room where you can’t really control the temperature.
- Dorm room beds are usually TWIN XL – verify this with your school before purchasing. The XL size only matters with the sheets, vinyl encasement and mattress pad – other bedding can be regular Twin size, of which there are many more choices.
- Chat with your roommate before buying things that you could share like the fridge, microwave, rug, etc.
WHAT YOU REALLY DON’T NEED (YET)
I mentioned that Peter used every single thing we bought from the guy’s essentials list. You know what he didn’t use much of?? SCHOOL SUPPLIES!
Peter brought home 90% of the notebooks, pens, index cards, and other supplies at the end of his freshman year….and the same supplies came home again sophomore year!
My recommendation about everything beyond your basic toiletries – buy what you need when you need it. Peter’s school is Inthemiddleofnowhere, Vermont, and he was still able to get Amazon and Target orders within 2-3 days. The college bookstore or a local convenience store will likely have Tylenol if you run out, and you can get band-aids at the health center on campus. Don’t feel like you have to buy EVERYTHING just in case. You will end up spending a ton of money on things you don’t even need.
I hope you enjoyed our list of our tried and true recommendations for college dorm room essentials!
Pin this post to save it, happy shopping and have a wonderful day lovelies!
Check out essentials for a guy’s dorm room here!