10 Essentials You Need for Your College Dorm that Even a Total Minimalist Will Use

10 Essentials You Need for Your College Dorm that Even a Total Minimalist Will Use

These are the must-have essentials you need for your college dorm. You’ll need these products no matter what kind of dorm room you have.

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

A few years ago, I was the living embodiment of the mom in this Onion article, standing in the middle of Bed, Bath and Beyond insisting to my daughter that she absolutely needed bed risers and the under-the-bed shoe storage bin. (She didn’t and she ended up not using half of the stuff I thrust on her during that shopping trip.)

It’s too late for me, but if you’re planning to send a child away to college this fall, there’s still time to save some money for yourself. I’ve created a list of all the things you need to know about your kid’s dorm room before you buy a single thing but after sending three kids off to college I’ve discovered that these items are almost universally needed.

I interviewed my kids (mostly my daughter since her college experience is the freshest) and came up with a list of essential items you’ll need when you go away to college. Don’t forget to check out my post 25 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Shop Before College so you can decide what else you’ll need beyond this list.

1. LED Desk Lamp with USB Port and Wireless Charging Station

This handy lamp provides concentrated task lighting and customizable color and brightness levels while charging your phone via the USB port or wireless charger. It also has a timer so it can shut off after 60 minutes and offers a nightlight feature. The small footprint of this lamp is handy on college dorm desks which typically don’t have a lot of space.

Get it from Amazon

2. Over the Door Full-Length Mirror with Built-In Storage

You guys, how amazing is this over the door cabinet with full length mirror? Dorm rooms just don’t seem to understand that people want to see their whole outfit from time to time and this mirror easily hangs on the door so it doesn’t take up additional space AND provides tons of storage.

It’s got 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon and the reviews are positively glowing like this one:

Gift to my daughter! The Gorgeous flattering mirror and the ample storage space inside is so perfect for all the small things that tend to lay around. I received it in just a few days and my daughter is still thanking me! Great product, great service

Get it from Amazon

3. Decorative Command Hooks

When they go low (by providing very little storage space), we go high (up on the wall). There’s pretty much nothing you can’t do with command hooks: hang a shelf, hang curtains, hang pictures on the wall, provide a place for backpacks, purses, coats and curling irons. You’re going to need (and use) a ton of these guys.

Command 732454213926 Accessory Organizer
Command Jewelry Rack, Clear, 2-Jewelry Racks
Command Picture Floating Wall Shelf
Command Clear Cord Clips
Command, PH203-18NA, Picture Hanging Strips, 10 Small Pairs and 8 Medium Pairs
Command 17036BN-ES Wall Hooks
Command Forever Classic Metal Hook
Command 732454213926 Accessory Organizer
Command Jewelry Rack, Clear, 2-Jewelry Racks
Command Picture Floating Wall Shelf
Command Clear Cord Clips
Command, PH203-18NA, Picture Hanging Strips, 10 Small Pairs and 8 Medium Pairs
Command 17036BN-ES Wall Hooks
Command Forever Classic Metal Hook

4. Clear Shoe Boxes

My daughter and her roommate used these to organize a variety of miscellaneous items in their drawers: school supplies, make-up, first aid supplies, etc. Clear shoe boxes are cheaper than specialized storage containers and tend to fit in tight spaces more easily.

Get them from Amazon

5. Foldable Storage Cubes

If your dorm room doesn’t provide under bed storage (some do!), then you definitely don’t want to waste that storage space. My daughter liked these storage cubes for storing bed linens, towels, sweaters and miscellaneous items such as laundry detergent because the cubes weren’t so wide as to be unwieldy and they were easy to slide in and out from under the bed.

Get them from Amazon

6. Extra Large Backpack Laundry Bag

The laundry needs to get done now and then, whether it’s in a laundromat on campus or at home in Mom’s washing machine. This roomy backpack laundry basket can easily tote a large amount of dirty clothes and be easily stored on a hook out of the way.

7. Complete 125 Piece Kit First Aid with 6 OTC Meds

Your child will get sick during their first semester away and they’ll probably get a blister or small cut at least once as well. When that happens, they’ll be glad to have this comprehensive first aid kit with all the essentials on hand. Includes medicine for allergies, upset stomach, and ibuprofen as well as an assortment of bandages.

Get it from Amazon

8. Large Foldable Laptop Desk

Sometimes it’s just easier to sit on your bed to study. With this laptop desk, your student can work on schoolwork anywhere. Includes a small drawer for phone storage and slotted spot for a drink.

Get it from Amazon

9. Noise Cancelling Headphones

College dorms are loud and sometimes you just need to tune out the world and relax or work on schoolwork. These noise-canceling headphones are value-priced at under $40 and have a 4.3 star rating on Amazon.

Get them from Amazon

10. Surge Protector Power Strip 6 Outlets with 6 USB Charging Ports

Everything has to be charged today: phone, laptop, headphones, watch, you name it. But college dorm rooms typically only have a few outlets. This surge protector provides 6 extra outlets and 6 USB charging ports so you can easily charge all your devices at once.

Get it from Amazon

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4 Comments

  1. June 24, 2016 / 11:21 am

    These are some very helpful items! Luckily my oldest daughter was frugal when she went to UCLA for four years. BTW, I have that exact lamp from Target sitting on my desk. Very handy!

    • Katy
      June 25, 2016 / 10:00 am

      My daughter loves that lamp so much! I’m going to have to get one for myself.

  2. July 10, 2016 / 10:28 am

    Great list! My oldest is heading off to college this fall, and we’re still trying to figure out what she’ll need. Her dorm is older, but all the rooms are different. Some have underbed storage, some don’t. All are small so we’re working on a good list of essentials. This post is a great help!

    PS Love your blog! I read so many “new mom” blogs, it’s wonderful to see something from an older mom perspective!

    • Katy
      July 10, 2016 / 10:32 am

      Thanks for commenting Jodi. It’s so hard to know what to buy the first year. My daughter’s in a new dorm this year so well be needing to make some new decisions again. Command hooks seem to always apply at least!

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