15 Dorm Room Essentials That Should Be on Every College Student’s Shopping List



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Packing for your first year at school can be a chaotic experience. You want to make sure you—or, as the case may be, your kid—have all the dorm room essentials. But pack too much and it could become a cluttered mess of unnecessary decor and unused furniture. Plus, that (very) limited square footage will make it even harder to keep everything organized.

While it may be tempting to stop by your favorite home goods retailer and throw anything that catches your eye into your cart, this can create a massive headache on move-in day. Don’t panic: Dorm room shopping can be strategic!

The best approach is to go into it with a checklist of necessities to deck out your home away from home. Here are our top picks for the must-have dorm room essentials you should add to your shopping list.

1. Printed comforter set

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No dorm room is complete without a printed comforter set.

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Transform your dorm into a place of your own by adding a cozy comforter. The bright print on this comforter set ($47.49, target.com) can help spruce up any drab room, and you can easily mix and match your decor to complement the design. A set made from a soft and lightweight fabric will provide maximum comfort all semester.

2. Laundry bag

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Carry your dirty clothes in style with this striped laundry bag.

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Whether you’re transporting your dirty clothes home for the weekend (sorry, Mom and Dad) or using campus facilities, you’ll need a sturdy laundry bag. Not only does this chic version ($9.99, ikea.com) boast thick handles to haul your load, it can also be folded and stored away.

3. Mesh shower caddy

This shower caddy features a mesh bottom to drain liquid and prevent mildew.

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Unless you’re blessed with a private bathroom in your dorm, odds are you’ll have to tote your products to and from the communal showers. A mesh shower caddy ($7.99, target.com) will hold your shampoo and conditioner in place and quickly drain water through the bottom. The large interior pocket is the perfect spot to carry your towel—and don’t forget your shower shoes!

4. Velvet hangers

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Sleek velvet hangers also clear extra space in your closet.

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Make the most of that tight closet space by investing in velvet hangers ($20.86, amazon.com). These hangers feature a velour material and notched shoulders, which prevent clothes from slipping, and their slim and sleek design allows you to maximize space in your tiny dorm wardrobe. The cherry on top? The hangers are top-rated with over 4,000 positive reviews.

5. Metal shelving unit

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Each wire shelf on this unit holds up to 250 pounds.

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Your college will likely supply you with a desk and dresser, but what if you need more storage? Take advantage of the vertical space in your dorm and stack snacks, textbooks, small appliances, and more on this handy three-shelf unit ($19.97, amazon.com). You can easily adjust the height of the shelves to fit your needs, and if the unit’s steel wires cramp your style, freshen the look with colorful decorative bins (more on that below).

6. Fabric storage bin

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These fabric bins are perfect for storing books, clothes, and snacks.

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Store your stuff in these wallet-friendly fabric bins ($4.00 each, target.com). Their lightweight and collapsible design allows for easy storage when they’re not in use. Bonus: They’re available in over 20 colors to match your decor and help turn your new living quarters into a Pinterest-worthy place.

7. Desk mirror

Avoid crowded communal bathrooms by using a desk mirror.

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Moving into a dorm means sacrificing space and privacy—even in the bathroom. Instead of fighting for mirror space in the morning, get ready in your room by using a desk mirror ($4.99, ikea.com). This stainless-steel mirror won’t take up precious desk space, and you won’t have to wait in a line to brush your hair in the communal bathroom.

8. Mattress topper

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Upgrade your mattress by adding a plush topper.

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Most dorm rooms provide a standard mattress, but the options are notoriously stiff and uncomfortable. If you want to get the best sleep before your exams, consider purchasing a mattress topper ($69.99, ikea.com). This topper is filled with memory foam, which molds to your body for full relaxation, whether you’re catching up o