When it comes to dorm room living, square footage is extremely limited, so the last thing you want to do is to bring a lot of stuff you’ll never use. If you want to make the most of your small space, first, check out your school’s official packing guide. It will suggest essential items, and just as important, share what’s not allowed in your residence hall.
Does your college permit appliances like mini fridges and microwaves? No dorm room needs two of everything, so another way you can avoid dorm... room clutter is to coordinate with your roommate on big-ticket items.
Another good to know, most schools provide residents with a twin-size bed. But you shouldn’t assume that the one in your room is standard size. Many residence halls are stocked with twin XL mattresses, which are five inches longer to better accommodate students of all heights.
Need a little help with dorm room shopping? We got your back. Here are the top 21 products every college student needs.
01 of 21
Show off your unique style while making your dorm room extra cozy with beautiful bedding. This five- piece set available in full/queen and twin/twin XL is made of incredibly soft, polyester microfiber that’s machine washable. It includes a flat sheet, fitted sheet, comforter, pillowcase, and sham. Not a fan of blue? It’s also available in teal, purple floral, and gray leaf.
02 of 21
Real talk: The thin mattress in your dorm room is not very comfortable. Luckily, this two-inch thick topper will make your bed cushy. It’s available in every mattress size including twin Xl and short queen.
The gel infused memory foam will cradle your body with cooling comfort. Worried about off gassing? Getting a good night’s sleep shouldn’t involve breathing dangerous chemicals that can harm your health and the environment. This topper will help you rest easy because it’s CertiPUR-US certified,... meaning it’s low VOC.
03 of 21
Boo-boos happen. This 72-piece first aid kit is the total package that includes more than just bandages and antiseptic cleansing wipes. Inside the water resistant, canvas bag you’ll find gear for medical emergencies from tweezers to a resuscitation mouth to mouth mask. FYI, the latter could be a lifesaver while waiting for paramedics.
04 of 21
Don’t let annoying racket distract your studies. These wireless headphones come with a noise cancellation switch that slashes mid to low pitched sounds up to 70 percent. When it comes to playing tunes, the headphones two high-end drivers deliver sparkling sound. They also make watching movies on your phone super convenient by automatically pausing the video when you respond to a call and then resuming the flick when your chat has ended. Bluetooth range is up to 33 feet and you can expect up to... 10 hours of operation after fully charging for three hours.Continue to 5 of 21 below.
05 of 21
Turn a standard electrical outlet in your dorm room into a charging station with this handy surge protector. It installs quickly into a vertical grounded AC outlet. The two USB ports, which are compatible with both Android and Windows phones banish the need for proprietary chargers. The four electrical outlets increase your powering options while protecting your electronics from voltage spikes. Not sure if it’s working? A green LED strip at the top of this device verifies surge suppression at a... glance.
06 of 21
Decorate your dorm room wall with this cute display by Umbra called Hangit. It will turn all of your favorite cards, sketches, and printed photos into a one-of-kind piece of art.
Each DIY kit comes with everything need to get started including 40 mini clothespins and hanging hardware. Hangit is available in four colors: Black, mint, natural and white. When fully assembled it measures: 30 inches x 26 inches. Psst, not allowed to bolt stuff to the walls? Pick up a pack of Command Picture and Frame... Hanging Strips.
07 of 21
Because you’ll be sharing a communal bathroom with lots of people, you better get Showaflops. Unlike other types of flip-flops, these sandals were made for wet areas and are both mold resistant and antimicrobial. Its unique design includes water drainage holes and slip-resistant soles. The best part, when worn in the shower, they can help you avoid contracting common infections like athlete's foot and toe fungus. FYI, they’re available in men's sizes too.
08 of 21
Make getting in and out of the dorm showers easier with this rustproof shower caddy made of durable, quick drying mesh. It’s available in five different colors: black, blue, pink, green and orange and features nine separate compartments for keeping your products and gear organized. For easy carrying and hanging, the lightweight caddy comes equipped with a handle. Even better, if you’re not 100 percent thrilled with this item, it comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.Continue to 9 of 21 below.
09 of 21
Washing clothes is drudgery -- But this pop-up hamper that holds up to two loads makes the job a little easier because it’s also an easy to carry laundry bag. It’s available in four colors: black, blue, pink and white.
The durable mesh frame can hold up to 50 pounds thanks to a unique patented design. Side pockets for laundry products add to this bag’s convenience. When the hamper is empty, it folds flat for easy storage.
10 of 21
Your dorm bed is a private sanctuary, so it makes sense to keep stuff within easy reach. This bedside caddy that comes fully assembled features 10 different pockets for holding a broad range of items from textbooks to personal devices. It comes with three adjustable Velcro straps for easy hanging on a headboard or bed rail. There are also three metal grommets for wall mounting. No worries about spills because the polyester caddy is hand washable. Not sure if it's for you? The item comes... with a risk-free money back guarantee.
11 of 21
Granted, spending money on under-the-bed storage isn’t exactly fun. But when it comes to saving space, it’s a practical purchase you’ll never regret. Sold in packs of two, these breathable polypropylene storage bags that are also both puncture and tear resistant are perfect for keeping seasonal items, like your expedition parka or down comforter, out of sight and clean until the temperature drops. So you don’t forget what you stored, they have a clear vinyl top for visibility. The bags are... available in your choice of black or java.
Expanded measurements: Length: 42 inches, Width: 18 inches, Height: 6 inches.
12 of 21
These hangers combine a non-slip velvet surface with notched shoulders to stop clothing from sagging or falling. Unlike thick plastic hangers, these take up less closet space because of their slim profile. But don't interpret their thin design as flimsy because each one can hold up to 10 whopping pounds. The hangers are available in packs of 30, 50 and 100.Continue to 13 of 21 below.
13 of 21
Because some of your classes will require reading physical textbooks, you need a quality desk lamp.
This elegant and widely popular LED light by TaoTronics comes with bells and whistles you won't find in standard lamps. Our favorite feature is touch dimming that you can set to four different illumination levels including night-light, which has a one-hour auto timer. It's also equipped with a 180-degree swing arm for directing light up or down. Even better, its quality LED bulb provides... uniform and smooth illumination without glaring or ghosting. When the desk lamp is not in use, it easily folds flat, making it a snap to store in a drawer.
14 of 21
Dry off with these incredibly affordable and wonderfully soft, 100 percent cotton towels. They don't skimp on absorbency or durability since they're a blend of heavyweight, Egyptian cotton. Of course, they’re machine washable and dryable. FYI, the manufacturer suggests doing both before using.
The towels come in a set of six that includes: two 30 inch x 56 inch bath towels, two 18 inch x 30 inch hand towels, and two 13 inch x 13 inch washcloths. Are you looking for a particular color?... Sets are available in 10 different shades: White, navy, cream, cocoa, cranberry, plum, Wedgewood blue, gray, moss and driftwood.
15 of 21
Make using your computer while sitting without a desk more comfortable with this handy lap desk. It features soft, curved edges and cushions covered with microfiber that makes balancing a laptop up to 15 inches on your lap comfy. If your computer runs hot, this little desk will help keep things cool with its built-in airflow channel. It also has two deep storage trays for your smartphone and pens. The lap desk is available in four different colors: Aqua, black, pink and purple.
16 of 21
This compact microwave is the perfect size for heating up dorm room meals like ramen noodles or mac and cheese. It has six, one-touch cooking options including settings for pizza and popcorn that take the guesswork out of heating some of your favorites foods. There is also a speed defrost, and 10 different power levels that offer more cooking flexibility — Just set the timer and heat. The appliance’s LED display, which doubles as a digital clock, will chime when time runs out.Continue to 17 of 21 below.
17 of 21
Keep cool while creating a little white noise that masks annoying sounds with this compact fan by Vornado. It has a two-speed setting and an adjustable base for directing airflow. Its sleek design is available in your choice of aqua or pink. When this little fan is not needed, you can fold it flat for easy storage or travel. If you’re not happy with this appliance’s performance and quiet operation, it’s backed by a three-year customer satisfaction guarantee.
18 of 21
Don’t be that roommate who breeds dust bunnies. This lightweight stick vacuum by Dirt Devil sucks up dirt and crumbs two ways. You can use it in the upright position like a canister vacuum or you can detach the cleaning unit for use as a hand vacuum.
Either way, its 16 foot electrical cord will provide enough leeway for your dorm room cleaning needs.
19 of 21
Even if you don’t know the difference between a flathead screwdriver and slotted screwdriver a mini tool kit is a good thing to own, particularly when assembling furniture for your dorm room. This kit includes both standard size and precision screwdrivers. The latter is perfect for opening up electronic equipment like your PC and tightening those tiny screws on eyewear.
20 of 21
Fill this tumbler up with a hot or cold beverage from the dining hall and your drink will still be at ideal temperature by the time you get to class. How is that possible, you may be wondering? The YETI Rambler combines a stainless exterior with two walls of inner insulation for keeping liquids piping hot or icy cold. The cup also has a no-sweat design that keeps your hands dry and a crystal clear lid that’s both dishwasher safe, and shatter resistant. The 20-ounce travel tumbler is available... in four different colors: Black, olive, sea foam and stainless steel.Continue to 21 of 21 below.
21 of 21
This 3.2 cubic foot mini refrigerator by Igloo is small enough for a dorm room but large enough to share with a roommate. It’s available in eight eye-popping colors: Purple, lime, orange, stainless steel, red, blue, white and black. Behind its chic exterior, you’ll find a built-in can dispenser, sliding tempered glass shelves and a small freezer. There’s even an adjustable thermostat so you can keep things chilled at optimum temperature. Need one more reason to buy? The fridge's door is... reversible so it can open left or right.
Disclosure: At The Spruce, our expert writers are committed to researching and writing thoughtful and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your life and your family. If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission.