The Complete List of Dorm Room Essentials For 2021

This post is all about the complete list of dorm room essentials for 2021.

dorm room essentials

After 4 years in college, I can say I’ve experienced everything about being a college student: the good, the bad, and the ugly. From living in a dorm room to making new friends to being stressed 120% of the time.

These four years of experiences have given me A LOT of knowledge about dorm rooms, especially about dorm room essentials.

Most of these things have made my college life so much easier, and some of them I’ve continued to use even after graduating.

Sharing is caring, so I’ve decided to make a complete list of dorm room essentials that includes my most used products: from the most obvious ones to things you probably wouldn’t have thought of.

This post goes into extreme detail over everything you’ll need for college, so it’s a long one, but it contains all the information I wish I had known before moving into my dorm room.

This is the complete guide of dorm room essentials you will actually use in college.

6 MUST HAVE DORM ROOM ESSENTIALS

These are my all-time most used products that I recommend to EVERYONE who is going to college. In fact, I’m still using these products even after moving out of my college dorm.

These are not only things I liked, but products I couldn’t have survived without in college and that I actually think you NEED.

1. Extension Cord

This is such a basic item but a lot of people forget about it. We have too many things that need to be charged like our phones, laptops.. so you’re going to need many plugs. 

Also, most dorm rooms have a maximum of 3 plugs and you have to share them with your roommate, so that’s not enough space.

This extension cord is perfect because it has the classic plugs and also places to put USBs.

2. Clip-On Fan

list of dorm room essentia

Hands-down my most used item in college.

Dorm rooms are HOT. You’ll probably realize this when you move in. The day I moved into my dorm and had to organize everything I ended up in dripping sweat.

It is barely impossible to sleep at night or focus on your homework in a non-air conditioned dorm room. That’s why having a fan saved my life and I highly recommend getting one if you know that your dorm doesn’t have air-conditioning.

I really love this fan because you can clip it to your bed or your desk and it’s super practical to carry around.

3. Mattress Topper

dorm list essentials

Your mattress pad is the most important thing in your dorm room. 

My biggest concern about moving to college was sleeping in a different bed than mine, but with a mattress pad, I didn’t even have to worry about that. 

Honestly, this mattress pad is super comfy and adapts to your body thanks to the gel-infused system. Trust me when I tell you I have the worst sleep when I’m not in my own bed and this saved my life.

I recommend getting the Twin XL size.

4. Towel Wrap

list of things to bring to college

Hand down the most practical towel ever, especially if you have to shower in a communal bathroom.

This towel wrap is perfect if you’re gonna be showering in the dorms because you can easily secure it with a velcro strap. So every time you go from the bathroom to your dorm you won’t have to walk with the fear of your towel falling off in front of everyone.

This one from Etsy is actually super affordable and you can get it monogrammed with your name.

5. Mesh Shower Caddy

dorm room essentials for guys

Dorm bathrooms aren’t the most practical thing. Since you share them with other girls you’ll have to carry all your stuff to and from the bathroom, and the best way to do it is with a shower caddy.

Don’t make the mistake of getting a plastic caddy. The water doesn’t drain out of it and everything ends up soaked: your stuff, the hallways, and your dorm.

Instead, get a mesh shower caddy because the water does drain out of it completely. This one is my favorite mesh shower caddy because it has enough space for everything and comes with different compartments to put your things.

6. Closet Organizer

dorm room essentials for girls

When I moved into my dorm room and realized I had the smallest closet ever to fit all my clothes I honestly panicked a little.

I also brought my entire closet with me which is a major mistake because most college dorms have small closets. However, I decided to look for ways to optimize my closet space and discovered this life-changer: a closet organizer.

This closet organizer (alongside the magic hangers) almost doubled my closet space and made it possible to fit everything. And trust me, I had a ton of clothing and shoes to fit in!

DORM BEDDING ESSENTIALS

1. Mattress Topper

unexpected things to bring to college
things to bring to college

When you move to college you’ll soon realize how important it is to have a good sleep. I honestly couldn’t have survived without a mattress pad because I’m super delicate when it comes to mattresses.

Also, you never know who has been on those dorm room beds, so I highly suggest you get one. They are way more affordable than a mattress and make your bed ten times more comfortable.

I mainly recommend these two mattress toppers (although I suggest you do your own research based on your own preferences):

2. Mattress Protector

what to bring to college

If you don’t have a mattress protector, you NEED to get one.

Since you’re not the first person to sleep in that bed, it’s always nice to have some extra protection. Your mattress topper is also essential for when you’re on your period to prevent from ruining your mattress or mattress topper.

This mattress protector is the one I used and I highly recommend adding it to your list of dorm room essentials.

3. Dorm Sheets

freshman dorm room essentials
dorm room packing list

Obviously, you’re going to need bed sheets.

I don’t recommend bringing more than 2 sets because you can use one set while the other is in the washing machine. I personally brought two sets of bedsheets and a duvet, and that’s all I needed.

These are my favorite bed sheets so far.

4. Duvet

college packing list pdf
college dorm room essentials

When I moved to college I knew I wanted to invest in a good duvet because I would be using it every day for the next four years. I used a big part of my budget to get a good quality duvet and to this day I don’t regret it.

I found a Twin XL was the perfect size for my dorm bed, but this depends on your bed so make sure to check it out.

I got my duvet from Ikea, but here are my favorite places for duvet covers:

  • Amazon. They have a ton of options for a really affordable price.
  • Urban Outfitters. A bit more pricey but high quality and look so cute.

5. Bed Shelf

college packing list for guys

A bed shelf is the perfect solution if you don’t have a nightstand in your dorm room.

They are also great to put all your essentials like your phone or a water bottle near you while you sleep. They are super practical and easy to place on your bed.

You can get a dorm shelf for less than $30.

6. Blankets

list of things to bring to college

I probably spent my four years of college doing homework on my bed with a blanket wrapped around me, so no wonder I include it in this dorm room essentials list.

It makes you feel super cozy and comfortable, especially during the coldest months. Make sure you get an extra big one so you can put it on your bed when you go to sleep.

7. Throw Pillows

dorm room essentials girls

Throw pillows are the best way to make yourself comfortable while watching a movie or doing homework on your bed.

They’re also the cutest decor to add to your dorm so make sure they are in your dorm room packing list. I LOVE these ones from Urban Outfitters because they match each other and come in the cutest color palette.

DORM BATHROOM ESSENTIALS

1. Mesh Shower Caddy

dorm room essentials freshman year

A shower caddy should definitely be in your college packing list, especially if you don’t have a private bathroom.

Make sure you get a mesh shower caddy and not a plastic one because the plastic compartments will retain the water and it is absolute hell to get it out.

My favorite shower caddy is this one from Amazon and it’s less than $10.

2. Shower Shoes

dorm room essentials for girls ideas

Make sure you bring a pair of shower shoes because they are super important. You don’t know who or what has been in those showers and the least you want is to get an infection.

The most hygienic and safe thing you can do is to get some shower shoes. You can get a pair for less than $5 at Target, and Amazon also has a ton of options if you’re online shopping.

3. Towel Wrap

list of things to bring to college

I included this towel wrap in my all-time essentials section at the top of this post because it’s honestly one of my most recommended dorm room essentials.

You’re likely going to have to walk from your dorm room to the showers so you will use this dorm essential A LOT. It’s the best option to cover yourself up with and make sure it doesn’t come off while you walk back to your dorm.

4. Towel Set

dorm room essentials for guys

For things like washing your face or your hair, you’re going to need different towels of different sizes. The best option is to get a towel set that covers everything you need.

It’s also great to have two of every towel type so you can use one when the other is dirty or in the washing machine. I love this towel set because it has the right amount of towels for college dorms.

Don’t bring a ton of towels because 1) you’re honestly not going to use all the towels and 2) they take up a lot of space.

5. Makeup Bag

dorm room essentials girls

When I moved to college I used a makeup bag to store all my makeup and cosmetics. This one from Etsy was big enough to fit everything and it’s also personalized, so it will avoid any confusion with your roommate’s stuff.

A makeup bag is also useful to store all the makeup products you don’t use every day. You can get a transparent makeup organizer for your desk and use it for your everyday products.

6. Makeup Mirror

dorm room essentials guys

A lot of people tend to forget that there aren’t any mirrors in college dorm rooms. So if you want to do your makeup properly or simply know how you look before heading out, you better bring a mirror.

I love this makeup mirror from Urban Outfitters because it’s small, easy to set up, and doesn’t take a ton of space. It also has integrated LEDs which is super useful since dorm rooms commonly have really poor lighting.

DORM ORGANIZATION ESSENTIALS

1. Closet Organizer

dorm essentials

I had to include this in my top 6 all-time dorm room essentials because it was crucial for me.

I was looking for ways to save space in my dorm room closet (which was the smallest I’ve ever seen in my entire life) and this closet organizer almost doubled the space I had.

It’s super easy to use, all you have to do is hang it, and it gives you so much more room for clothes and shoes, hence why this is one of my most recommended dorm essentials.

2. Magic Hangers

dorm essentials list

I combined my closet organizer with the magic hangers and it was the cherry on top.

With the magic hangers, you will save a TON of space. The way they work is you can hang multiple layers of clothes in a single hanger, this way your clothing takes half the space it would normally take.

3. Under The Bed Storage

dorm essentials for girls room

Since dorm rooms aren’t especially big, you will have to use all the space you have in your hands. And by all the space, I mean all of it, including the space under your bed.

If you have free space under your bed, that’s great! Because you can use it to store bulky items like winter clothes, coats, and even your extra bedding. Everything you won’t use on an everyday basis, you can put it there.

The best part is Amazon sells a type of storage that’s specifically for this. Under the bed storage is super useful for big items and shoes, and it comes with a handle so you can use it for transportation too.

4. Laundry Bag

girl dorm room essentials

A laundry bag is an absolute essential because you will have to get your laundry from your dorm room to the laundry room every time you need to clean your clothes, so you will use it a lot.

I recommend this laundry bag from Etsy because 1) it’s easier to transport all your clothes and 2) it’s personalized with your initials so you won’t confuse your laundry with other girls’ and no one will take it by accident.

5. Ottoman

dorm essentials list freshman year

Having an ottoman in your dorm is super helpful because it has many purposes.

You can use it as an extra seat (you won’t have a ton of space in your dorm so this comes in handy for visits) and as storage.

DORM KITCHEN ESSENTIALS

1. Keurig

college essentials

Mini Keurigs are perfect for college dorms because they are small and practical and you can still get a freshly poured cup of coffee every morning without having to leave your dorm.

2. Hydroflask

college essentials supplies

If you don’t want to be constantly going to the store to get water bottles and drinking hot water for the rest of the day, I highly suggest you get a Hydroflask.

It keeps your water cold all day and there are multiple sizes you can choose from. Trust me, you’ll save a lot of money in the long run, and you’ll also avoid plastic waste. So it’s a win-win!

3. Coffee Mug

list dorm room essentials

Whether it’s for coffee, tea or any beverage you like to have, you will need a mug in your dorm.

You can obviously bring one from home, but if you’re a mug-obsessed person like me, you can get a new mug especially for your dorm. It’s the best way to start this new phase in your life!

4. Containers

college dorm essentials

Containers are great for snacks or to keep leftovers in your fridge. They are super clean, easier to wash and will keep your food safer than plastic bags. They’re also more sustainable for the environment!

5. Mini Fridge

college dorm checklist

If you want to save some money and food and cook the basic stuff or keep drinks in your dorm room, you will need a mini fridge.

Having a mini fridge is super helpful, especially if you want to eat healthy at college because it allows you to storage veggies and fruit. You will also have cold water all the time and you won’t have to go to the cafeteria 24/7.

Before buying this, make sure your dorm doesn’t already have a mini fridge. If you don’t have one, make sure you ask your roommate if she wants to split the price so it is more affordable for both of you.

BEST DORM DECORATIONS

I think dorm decor is definitely essential because decorating my dorm room was all I cared about before moving. 

I think decorating your space is an important part of moving to college because you need to create some sort of “home” where you can relax and be comfortable.

Here are the most popular dorm decor items almost every girl I knew had in her dorm (including me, of course!):

1. Fairy Lights

dorm room essentials list

String lights are the easiest (and cheapest) way to completely change your dorm.

I had them since day one and loved turning them on at night while watching Netflix because they made my dorm 10x times cozier.

2. Greenery

dorm room essentials amazon

Dorm rooms can look a bit cold and empty when you move in. That’s why greenery is super popular!

A few hanging plants will make your space look more fresh and warm. You don’t even need to get real plants because fake ones will do exactly the same.

3. Tapestries

amazon dorm room essentials
college checklist

Dorm room walls tend to be super empty and blank so they are a space you can play with. The quickest and cheapest way to cover them is with tapestries.

They take up so much space and instantly transform your room. The best part is that there are tons of designs to choose from.

You can easily get a cute tapestry from Urban Outfitters for less than $20 like this set of three.

4. Wall Decor

These are the most popular wall decor ideas. You can combine them to create your own unique wall art decor.

Honestly when it comes to wall decor Amazon has a ton of options.

5. Rugs

college packing list

Rugs are not only a cute way to decorate your dorm, but also super useful because dorm floors are pretty ugly.

They will also keep your feet warm and make your space so much cozier. You can get a bigger rug that covers almost the entire dorm, or a smaller one to put next to your bed.

BEST CLEANING ESSENTIALS

1. Wrinkle Releaser

An iron will take up too much space and it’s just not worth it. Trust me, most days you won’t even have the time or energy to iron your clothes.

Instead, get a wrinkle releaser. It’s way cheaper, faster and does exactly the same job.

2. All-Purpose Spray

I don’t know what it is about dorm rooms but they get dirty super fast! 

I used this all-purpose cleaner all the time and it worked great on all types of surfaces like windows, desk tables, and shelves.

Definitely recommend adding this to your dorm room essentials list because you will be using it a lot.

3. Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber cloths are the most functional and sustainable way to clean your space.

I used them with the all-purpose spray and washed them after and they worked great. You can reuse them as many times as you want.

4. Mini Vacuum

Dorm rooms are dusty 24/7. I talked to other girls and they had the same problem too.

I was constantly cleaning mine because there was dust everywhere all the time. This would have been impossible with a broom, so this small vacuum was a game-changer for me.

5. Trash Can

You’ll need a place to put your trash. Definitely get a trash can with a top on it like this one so your trash won’t smell.

There are a ton of fancier and more expensive trash cans but I wouldn’t recommend spending too much on this as it will do exactly the same.

6. Trash Bags

I used compostable trash bags because they are the most sustainable option. Even better if you can find scented trash bags so the garbage won’t smell up your room.

DESK & SCHOOL SUPPLIES

1. Desk Lamp

Dorms tend to have the worst lightning so I highly recommend bringing your own desk lamp.

You don’t need to spend a lot on this but make sure you get good quality lighting that allows you to work on your desk. I got mine from Ikea but this one from Amazon is super similar.

2. Transparent Makeup Organizer

Keeping all your everyday makeup products in your makeup bag is not practical at all. You will spend too much time looking for what you need, and as a college student, you don’t have that time.

I suggest you get a makeup transparent makeup organizer. They are cheap and super helpful to keep everything clean and organized. You will find everything more easily and spend less time doing your makeup in the morning.

If you aren’t a makeup person, you can also use this for your school supplies like pens, pencils, rubbers, etc.

3. Wire Grid

A wire grid not only is a great way to save space and stay organized, but also the cutest wall decor. 

You can use this to stay organized and hang important stuff, or you can use it to create a wall art decor with your favorite polaroids and prints.

4. Academic Planner

college dorm room checklist

An academic planner is a MUST when you’re a student, but even more when you’re a college student. 

Your schedule will be constantly packed with stuff to do and you’ll need to plan everything if you don’t want to go crazy. Having a planner and making to-do lists is what kept me sane in college and also made me 10 times more productive.

This one from Etsy is super cute because you can customize it with your name and it comes in so many color options. It’s one of my favorite dorm room essentials.

5. Charging Station

Having a charging station is super helpful to charge your devices in one place and at the same time.

The best part is you don’t have to worry about having cords all over the place or forgetting about where you put your phone charger.

6. USB Drive

These days everything is digital!

In my college, we barely used paper because we did everything on our computers, from taking notes to preparing a presentation. 

That’s why a USB drive is a perfect thing to keep all your important school stuff in one place. I also recommend keeping a copy of everything you do on a USB drive just in case your laptop dies so you won’t lose all your work.

7. 6ft Phone Charger

I always liked to keep an extra charger in my backpack just in case I ran out of battery in the middle of the day. Honestly a life-saver in so many occasions!

8. iPad

When I moved to college I decided I didn’t want to bring my laptop to the classes because it’s 1) it’s bulky and 2) I didn’t want to scratch it or break it.

So I decided to get an iPad and it was the best decision ever. iPads are light and easy to carry around, and you can literally do anything: from taking notes to school work, to watching a movie or even drawing.

I know it’s more on the pricey side, but it’s definitely on my top dorm room essentials list.

For my degree, I could do everything on an iPad but it obviously depends on what you’re studying. I also used this iPad keyword and it worked just like a regular laptop.

BEST COLLEGE BACKPACKS

1. A Big Work Bag

A lot of girls in my college wore a big work bag.

This has so many advantages because you can fit all your stuff and you’ll probably look more stylish than with a regular backpack.

2. A Fjallraven Kanken Classic Backpack

The Fjallraven Kanken backpack is super popular right now. I love how they are super practical but still cuter than a regular backpack, so it’s a win-win for me.

These backpacks come in a ton of different colors and sizes so you won’t have any problems with finding the perfect one for you.

2. A Laptop Bag

For the girls who do everything on their laptop this is the best option.

This bag has enough space for your laptop charger and other accessories and it will make sure your laptop is safe when carrying it around.


Wow! This post was a lot of information on dorm room essentials for 2021.

Other posts you may like:

15 Trendy College Dorm Rooms You’ll Love

15 Unexpected Things To Bring To College You’ll Actually Need

This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission if you purchase through them (at no extra cost for you). I only recommend products and services that I have personally used and love. You can read about my disclosure here.

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