Dorm Essentials You May Not Have Thought Of

Dorm room
Peathegee Inc / Getty images

There are as many lists of what to bring to college as there are colleges. Freshman year, most students leaving home for college will live in a dorm room, and for many of them, it will be the first time sharing a room, sharing a communal bathroom and eating institutional food. Helping their young adults stay clean, healthy and well-fed are all major concerns for parents of college freshmen. There are some useful items to pack to take for dorm life that you may not have thought of.

At Home Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning bills can add up quickly, and if clothes aren't cared for properly you'll be getting phone calls about ruined sweaters and shrunken jeans. An at-home dry cleaning product can take care of many minor cleaning problems for dry clean only items, and save a lot of money at the same time.

Emergency Food (That's Not a Granola Bar)

Students on a strict budget who don't want what's on the menu in the dining hall will appreciate a last-minute option that provides protein and tastes good. Individual peanut butter packets paired with crackers and honey makes a great meal morning or evening. There are many options for tuna to go with all kinds of condiments and crackers from relish to mayo. Dried fruits and nuts are sold everywhere in individual servings and are perfect for late night snacking. Instant meals don't have to be unhealthy and go way beyond Cup O Noodles—try couscous lentil curry, for example, or individual sized tomato soup.


A Trash Can With a Lid

An excellent investment in a living situation that can bring out the creepy crawlies and other unpleasant things is a sturdy trash can with a lid, along with liners. While they are a little pricey, Simple Human products are well-made and look good, too. They sell liners specifically for each size, but store bought liners can work pretty well also and will cost less.

Your freshman may laugh at you when you unpack this, but she'll be grateful when the bugs show up in everyone else's rooms.

Bed Bug Mattress Protector

Unfortunately, bed bugs are a fact of life and they show up without warning. Keep your young adult safe from these unfortunate creatures with a mattress protector that keeps bed bugs at bay. Don't forget the pillow protector, too.

Washi Tape

Everyone has so many power cords, chargers, extension cords...and things get lost, grabbed by accident, left behind or taken on purpose. Use Washi tape to identify electronics. A simple and cute way to say "this is mine."

Folding Board

It may seem like something a young adult would never use—but a folding board for clothing can save a lot of space (clothes fold neatly) time (searching for a missing item of clothing) and money (replacing those missing items that probably aren't missing). Once this becomes a habit, it will be hard to do laundry without it.

Bed Caddy

Not just for the elderly anymore, bed caddies are great storage options and space savers, and in a small dorm room every square inch counts. Find one that coordinates with bedding colors and design on Etsy.

Peg Board

Hang a pegboard and suddenly there is tons of storage space for things like jewelry, handbags, baseball mitts, and so much more.

Use Command Strips to attach the pegboard to the dorm room wall and buy a variety of peg sizes. You'll be amazed at how much use you can get from a pegboard.

Printed Photos

Your freshman may not realize it, but printed photos hanging on a wall or in a frame really do warm up a room—much more than an electronic image can. Surprise your student with a selection of photos and you can create a collage together for him or her to hang on a wall in the dorm. 

Photocopies of Documents

Things disappear from dorm rooms all the time, so don't send original copies of birth certificates, passports, social security cards, etc. Make copies of these documents and keep them in a locked storage box for safe keeping. Also, make a copy of your young adult's drivers license to have on hand. If a wallet is lost or stolen, having copies of these—along with credit cards, insurance cards, and other important items—can save a lot of time.