20 Best College Dorm Room Essentials: Things You’ll Actually Use

Heading to college in the fall? I think I can speak on behalf of many college students that some things that we brought to college freshman year, we didn’t necessarily need and/or use as much as we thought we would. Here are things that are essential to have for your dorm room to be prepared for freshman year. 


Over-the-Door mirror

I can’t tell you how helpful it was to have an over-the-door mirror in my room. Some schools don’t even give you a mirror so make sure that you have one of these on your dorm shopping list. 

Laundry hamper

Similar to your room at home, you don’t want to have your clothes all over the floor so having a hamper will help to make sure that all your clothes stay in one place until you can do laundry. 


Lights add so much to the atmosphere of your room so consider buying them! Whether it’s string lights or even a floor lamp, make sure you have ample lighting is your room. There’s numerous options when it comes to lights so choose the one you like the best and talk to your roommate about which kind you think would look best in the room. 



No matter how big or small your dorm is (even though your freshman door is probably going to be on the smaller side), a rug is important to add to your room. You’re not going to want to step on the cold tile floor of your room every time you get out of bed so a rug will help to provide some cushion to your feet. 

Mattress topper


The mattress that your school gives you probably won’t be the most comfortable thing ever so a mattress topper will help to add comfort for when you sleep. Some mattress toppers come with bedding sets, but if one doesn’t come with yours, just pick one up from any home decor store.

Throw pillows

Throw pillows are a great addition to the appearance of your bedding so add a couple cute ones!

Dry erase board calendar

A dry erase board calendar will help you keep track of all the assignments you have to do as it’ll be hanging up in your room and serve as a reminder of them. 

Desk lamp


You and your roommate may have different sleeping schedules, and you might have to stay up doing an assignment that you procrastinated while your roommate is sound asleep (I’m definitely not speaking from experience. Ok, maybe I am!). Anyway you won’t want to have the normal lighting in your room on so a desk lamp will help to minimize the amount of light in your room so your roommate can sleep. 

Extra hooks


My freshman year, I remember I had a huge framed picture, but none of the hooks I had were strong enough to support it. I had to wait until my parents came back to visit me so they could bring back bigger ones and help me put it up. Save yourself some time and make sure you have enough hooks and that the hooks are strong enough to hang up everything you need to.

Makeup mirror


A makeup mirror is another essential. The mirror in the communal bathroom isn’t the best place to do your makeup so having a mirror in your room will help so you don’t have to leave your room every time you want to do it.

Storage bins


Your school is probably only going to give you a dresser or two for your stuff in so it’s important to have more space to store your things. 



I didn’t realize how important it was to have one of these, especially since my freshman dorm didn’t have AC. It can be a desktop or standing one, but have a fan in your room so you don’t get too hot!

Power strip


A power strip is another item that you might’ve not thought about. There’s so many things that you’re going to have to plug in, and there’s only going to be so many outlets in your room. That’s why you need to get a power strip so you can plug in everything you need to.

Kitchen Supplies

Brita water filter


A Brita water filter is a must! You’re, of course, going to want to have clean water to drink. By having a water filter, you won’t have to constantly go to a dining hall/ store on-campus to get water. A water filter will ensure that you’re always be able to have clean water on-hand. 

Mini refrigerator

Check to see if the residence hall you’ll be living in allows this, but if it does, definitely buy one! A mini refrigerator made it so easy for me and my roommate to store essential food items that we needed. 



You might’ve gotten used to just always having plates, bowls, utensils, etc, in your kitchen at home that you might’ve not thought of this. You don’t have to go out and buy a whole kitchen utensil set, but get a couple of each of these things so that you can have them on-hand when you need them. 


Bath wrap/ robe

You don’t want to risk dropping your bath towel in the hall so use a bath wrap/ robe. I preferred to use a bath wrap, but choose whatever one that you like best!

Shower shoes


You don’t want to step on the floor of the communal shower so get shower shoes! You can go out and get cute ones or you can just buy flip flops to use. The most important thing is just that you don’t step on the shower floor with your bare feet. 

Shower caddy

Majority of freshman dorms make you have a communal bathroom (trust me, they aren’t actually as bad as you think); however, you definitely don’t want to be holding your shower essentials in your hands. A shower caddy makes it so much easier to organize everything you need when you have to get ready in the morning or go to sleep at night. 


Phone wallet/ card holder


This is another thing that I didn’t realize how important it was to have. From scanning into buildings to getting food at the dining hall, you’re gonna need to use your ID for a lot of things. That’s why you want a secure place to put it into and access. A card holder is perfect because it sticks to the back of your phone and allows your ID and other cards to be accessible at all times. 



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