What do you really need in your dorm room

Dorm essentials from top left: shower caddy / large squishy / desk lamp / blanket / window fan / travel iron / shower shoes / hot/cold air purifier fan /

It is that time of year when parents start shopping for their new college student’s dorm room. There will be huge shopping lists posted on blogs and handed out by advertisers, as well as your child’s own school. Some of these lists are great, while others are trying to sell you unnecessary items such as headboards, string lights which can damage walls, and other fluffy decorations.

Do you really need to replace the dorm room headboard? No. Your child will live in the dorm temporarily and the majority of those headboards end up getting thrown away at the end of the school year. That’s right! There is a giant trash area next to the dorm building filled with fluffy decorations that cannot be reused the following year. Don’t fall for it. You DO NOT need to buy your child a fancy headboard!

When you receive these lists, sort through them. What is necessary and what is fluffy. Stay away from fluffy. You can end up spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on decorations which might damage the walls of the dorm room, and/or end up in a landfill at the end of the school year. Don’t do it. Just say no.

The first things you should pack are things your child needs to survive at school for roughly nine months. Your child may or may not rent an apartment their second year of school, so investing in too much for the dorm room will be a waste of money. If you think you need to buy drawers and other forms of storage, you’re bringing too much to school. You don’t need drawers, shelves, and shoe racks. Leave the extra stuff at home.

Here is a small, capsule list of what you really need in your dorm room.

Bathroom essentials: You should make sure your child has all of the necessary toiletries s/he needs to survive such as toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, shampoo, soap, towels, etc. In addition to these products, your student will need two important items; a shower caddy and shower shoes. A shower caddy that hangs on a hook is ideal so that it does not touch the nasty floor in the bathroom or shower. Your child will also need, and I mean NEED, shower shoes. Don’t buy shower shoes with holes that allow nasty water to get into them from the floor. You need shower shoes that allow the water to run down to the floor. I highly recommend the pair pictured above. DO NOT go into the bathroom, especially the shower, without shower shoes.

Fans: It does not matter if your child is attending school in a warm or cool climate, they will need a fan. Older dorm buildings will often have radiators which are very old and difficult to control. The room can get hot, dry, and stuffy. A fan is essential. I recommend a window fan, especially if your dorm does not have AC, and also a desk fan. A hot/cold air purifier is a great option where there are a lot of pollutants and wildfires.

Blanket: Whether your student attends college in a warm or cool climate, they will need a blanket. I recommend a medium weight blanket which can carry them throughout the school year.

Mattress: The dorm mattresses are gross and uncomfortable. You will need to get your student a mattress cover which zips up and protects your child from the cooties within the dorm mattress. These mattresses are also uncomfortable, so a good gel topper will add comfort and help make the bed cozy for your student.

Desk Lamp: Most schools have built-in lighting, but it never seems to be bright enough. I recommend getting your student an inexpensive desk lamp. The one featured above is the same one my daughter uses in her dorm room. It has places for pencils and also a port for plugging in your phone charger. She loves this lamp!

Travel Iron: A large iron and board is too bulky for a dorm room. A travel iron is easy to store and your student can use a beach towel on the floor as an ironing board. That being said, do you really think your college student will iron anything? Probably not. I would get the travel iron anyway. Maybe, just maybe, someday, they will iron something. A parent can dream, right?

Large Squishy: OK, this is not completely necessary, but a large squishy makes a bed cozier and offers something to hug; especially if your student feels homesick or stressed. All of the college kids these days have squishies in their dorm room.

First Aid Kit: You can purchase a ready-made first aid kit, or you can make one up yourself. I recommend getting a clear shoe box your student can look through. The clear shoe boxes are great because they can stack in the closet with your students’ shoes, or store easily on a shelf. Your first aid kit should include band aids, Neosporin, Bactine, cough drops, Advil (or your fav pain killer), a decongestant, and any other over the counter items your student needs if they get a cold or flu.

Well, those are the bare bones basics which every college student needs in their dorm room. The best checklist, out of all the ones your student will receive, is the one the school hands out. Even then, you can pair it down. The goal is to buy the least amount possible. In this dorm room essentials post, I am pointing out the most important things your student will need for their dorm room. Repeat after me, shower shoes!

Shop dorm essentials online:

Congrats on your child’s new journey into college and let me know if you have any questions!

Thanks for stopping by,


Dorm Essentials