30 Must-Have Items for Your Dorm Room

By R.P. Hogan
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Photo Courtesy: Анастасия Гепп/Pixabay

Headed off to college? Congratulations! Not to get too hokey, but moving into a dorm is a big milestone. For many young people, it’s the first time they’re living away from home without all the usual comforts you’ve taken for granted. It’s important to create a good living space—your room should be a haven that offers relief from all the stresses of academic life.

We picked 30 items that will make sure you have a clean, peaceful and, most importantly, comfortable dorm room.

Get Some Really Good Bed Sheets

500 Thread Count Cotton Sheets Set

Sleeping in a dorm room almost every night for nine months straight means comfortable sheets will be key. Isabella Crawford’s 500-thread count sheets are made from soft and durable pima cotton, the next best thing to Egyptian cotton, but that doesn’t mean you need to pay Egyptian cotton prices.

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"I totally love how smooth, fine and extremely comfortable they are to sleep on," says one reviewer of this set, which comes with one fitted sheet, one top sheet and pillowcase.

"If I get more than two years out of them, and I believe I will, then I got my money back and more!" says another review.

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A Room Inside Your Room

Alvantor Bed Canopy

Maybe your roommate wants to stay up when you’re ready to crash, or maybe you just want some privacy when your roommate has a friend over. Alvantor’s bed canopy is the perfect solution.

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Take your mattress off the bed frame, then open the pop-up canopy and extend the flexible ribs to keep it aloft. Slide the mattress back in, and now you’ve got, as one reviewer says, "an insane amount of comfort and privacy."

It’s got openings at the front and both sides. When zipped closed, it’s a warm enclave that keeps out enough light to make sleep easy. (But there’s a lamp hanger if you want to stay up and read.)

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Comfort From Head to Toe

Zuma Therapeutic Foam Wedge Pillow

Dorm room desk chairs aren’t known for their comfort, and you probably won’t have room for a recliner, so you’ll likely be sitting on your bed a lot. Rest this Brentwood Home foam wedge pillow against the wall or headboard and you’re all set for back support.

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The pillow’s simple wedge design also means you can use it for leg or head support to help with snoring. You can even use it as a laptop desk!

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Use Every Inch of Space

AmazonBasics Under Bed Storage Containers

It doesn’t take much for a dorm room to get cluttered, so you’ve got to get smart about storage solutions, and the AmazonBasics under-the-bed storage container is a great first step.

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If you’re looking to stash some out-of-season clothes until it warms up or cools down outside or don’t want a bunch of athletic equipment rolling around under the bed, this container gets the job done. As one reviewer says, it’s "attractive and well-made" to boot. Some users suggest laying cardboard in the bottom to improve support if needed.

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Create Additional Storage Space

Home-it Adjustable Bed Risers

You want to store some stuff under the bed, but your bed frame isn’t as high off the floor as you thought. No problem! Just break out the Home-It adjustable bed risers and create as much space as you need.

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Raise your bed (sofa or desk) three, five or even eight inches off the ground, depending on how much space you need. Problem solved — easy as that."These blow my mind," reports one satisfied reviewer. "I worried about them being durable enough to withstand our weight but there was no need."

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A Solution for Bedside Essentials

Kikkerland Bedside Caddy

Reading in bed is great until realizing you have to get up to put your book or tablet down on your desk, because you don’t have a nightstand. The simple but elegant bedside caddy by Kikkerland gives you a place to store everything from reading materials to your electronics needed for long nights and early mornings.

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The support end of the "sturdy and well-made" caddy fits snugly between the mattress and box spring and won’t wiggle loose. "The gray felt goes with any decor - it visually ‘blends’ so you don’t really notice it," observes one reviewer.

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A Space-Saving Vacuum

Eureka Lightweight Stick Vacuum Cleaner

Sure, you wouldn’t get bits of potato chips or cereal all over your dorm room floor but, just in case you get stuck with a messy roommate, this 3-in-1 vacuum cleaner from Eureka is a lifesaver.

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It’s a "powerful little vac," raves one happy reviewer, "perfect for a quick cleanup on hard floors."

The lightweight stick vacuum’s 18-foot electrical cord is more than any dorm room needs, and the detachable hand vacuum can help get those tough to reach places. This sturdy dorm room essential is good enough to graduate to your post-college home!

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Over-the-Door Storage

SimpleHouseware Hanging Shoe Organizer

Though SimpleHouseware primarily presents this storage tool as a hanging shoe organizer, it works for a lot more than shoes. In the likely event of there not being much individual closet space, hanging this on the room’s front door makes for the perfect shareable space saver for shoes and accessories.

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Load the pockets up with scarves, gloves and winter hats. Use them to store snacks, extra rolls of paper towels, or to get those pesky unused charger cords out of the way.

"The metal is strong but thin enough to fit our tight door jamb," writes one satisfied reviewer.

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Get Your Drawers Sorted

Evelots Drawer Organizer

You could just shove everything into one drawer and waste time every morning rooting around for what to wear. Or you can use the Evelots honeycomb drawer organizer to create individual compartments for underwear, socks, ties, scarves and other items to view your options at a glance and pick something quick.

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The honeycomb-shaped organizers can be cut down for small drawers or fit together if you have a lot of space to play with. Once the fit is right, they should stay snugly in place. "These were the best for the price," writes a satisfied owner. "It was pretty easy to put together and my underwear and sock drawers look great now."

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Desktop Storage for Small Items

Umbra Tuck Jewelry Box

Most people see this tuck box by Umbra as a place to keep jewelry. Sure, you can use it for that, but it’s also a simple, unobtrusive, elegant solution to desktop storage space. When closed, it’s a chic bamboo box, but turn the walls to reveal the three smaller boxes inside, and you’ve got room for all sorts of things.

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A safe space to keep the thumb drive with all your class notes to, small office supplies for the desk, or a safe space to hide the spare room key, the possibilities are endless!

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Hands-Free Relaxation

Tablet Stand Pillow Holder

Even if you’re lucky enough to get a couch to yourself, you’ll still want this tablet stand pillow holder from Ideas in Life to hold your Kindle, iPad or other tablet device. This tablet stand frees your hands from having to hold the device for hours while minimizing back and neck pain.

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"It’s tiny but sturdy and perfect to get the job done," says one happy reviewer. You can also set it up on a desk, night stand or counter top to make an impromptu TV screen. "I just wish they had it in different colors because I would buy more," says another user.

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Turn Your Bed Into a Desk

TaoTronics Laptop Desk

"I feel stuffy and suffocated with a heavy laptop on my lap, and I usually like having the screen quite close to my face so having it on my lap is annoying. I also notice that I sort of slouch down to see the screen better and it was really irritating my back," says one reviewer who needed a change.

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The TaoTronics laptop desk takes care of that, providing a sturdy base that allows you to work at a desk without leaving your bed or sofa.

Adjust the height of the side legs or tilt the surface of the desk, while blockers along the bottom edge keep the secure. There’s also a wrist rest to help minimize the risk of repetitive stress injuries. When you’re done, the legs fold up under the desktop to store just about anywhere.

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Take Notes On Your Refrigerator

Igloo Dry Eraser Board Refrigerator

Igloo’s dry eraser board refrigerator is as simple as it is brilliant. Instead of having to buy a magnetic whiteboard that will probably end up falling off at some point, why not just make the refrigerator door a dry-erase board?

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On its own, the black design is sleek and minimalist. Break out the two colored markers, though, and you can have all sorts of fun creating inventories, shopping lists or reminders for important events. Inside, there’s room to store two-liter bottles, as well as a dispenser that can hold up to eight cans. As one reviewer says, "Cute and practical!"

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Effortless Late-Night Snacks

Black and Decker Toaster Oven

All the Black and Decker four-slice toaster ovenneeds is a flat surface spanning just over 16 inches by 11 inches. This inexpensive electric oven can make dorm life a lot more pleasant.

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As the description promises, it’s big enough to make four slices of toast at once, which means it’s also big enough to fit a large pizza slice for reheating, along with various other frozen foods. Just be safe and remember to unplug the oven when you’re not using it.

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Make Your Own Soft Drinks

SodaStream Fizzi Sparkling Water Maker

Have you ever thought about how much soft drinks cost, not to mention the environmental impact of all those cans and plastic bottles? With SodaStream, you can make your own sparkling water and add whatever flavors you want without loading up on sugar or caffeine.

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The Fizzi sparkling water maker bundle comes with the basic stand, three one-liter bottles; two CO2 cylinders for carbonation and two fruity flavor packs. Reviewers say it’s "easy to use" and "takes up very little space."

Replacement cylinders can last months—way less than the price of soft drinks over the same time frame.

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Fancy a Cup of Tea?

AmazonBasics Electric Hot Water Kettle

The stainless steel portable electric hot water kettle from AmazonBasics will prove its worth the first night you have to stay up studying for a big test. It holds up to one liter of water—enough to make several cups of tea, hot chocolate or coffee—and gets to the boiling point almost instantly, then automatically shuts down for safety.

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"In about 35 seconds, I have a liter of water at the perfect tea making temperature," says one reviewer. A clear window on the side lets you check when to refill the kettle. You don’t even have to wash it afterwards, just wipe the inside dry once it has cooled down.

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Instant Shelf Space

Whitmor Closet Organizer

You’ll get some closet space in your dorm room, but good luck finding enough shelf space. Whitmor's closet organizer is "perfect vertical storage for the small cramped spaces we're allowed," one reviewer reports.

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Just hang the metal hooks off the rod, and the fabric drops down to reveal five roomy compartments. "I’m glad I purchased it," says another satisfied buyerer. "It makes my closet look more organized." You can use the compartments to get shoes up off the floor, keep jeans and sweaters folded neatly or create as an instant cubbyhole for snack supplies.

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Space-Saving Hangers

AmazonBasics Velvet Suit Hangers

Some people say you shouldn’t bring all your clothes with you to college, because they won’t all fit in a small closet. Well, we say that’s because you’re using fat plastic hangers. Get a set of AmazonBasics velvet suit hangers instead.

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They’re four times thinner than regular hangers, but just as strong. One hanger can hold up to 10 pounds, which means it can even handle heavy winter coats. (And for that extra weighty coats, just double up the hangers for added support.) "You'll be amazed at how much more you can fit into your closet," one reviewer raves.

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A Mirror That Fits Anywhere

Mirrotek Full Length Dressing Mirror

This full-length hanging mirror from Mirrotek with the cherry finish isn’t the least expensive model you can find, but "it definitely looks more expensive than it actually is," according to one reviewer, bringing a "sleek and clean" accent to your dorm room.

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The 3.5-foot mirror is lightweight and hangs simply off the back of your door, or it can just as easily be mounted on the wall. Once it’s set up, you’ll always be able to check yourself on the way out to make sure you picked the perfect outfit before heading off to class, a Saturday tailgate, or any other event.

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A Lightweight Laundry Tote

Mesh Popup Laundry Hamper

When a traditional plastic laundry bucket is not being used, it just sits there taking up a huge chunk of floor space. Plus, it’s a heavy hassle to carry all the way to the laundry room. That’s why you need a Handy Laundry mesh popup laundry hamper.

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The durable mesh bag lies flat when it’s empty, so it’s easy to store. But even after you start throwing clothes in it, the bag doesn’t take up much space. When you’re ready to go do laundry, the handles make it easy to carry and even have side pockets for detergent and fabric softener.

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A Warm and Cozy Rug

PAGISOFE Area Shag Rugs

A shag rug for your dorm room may seem excessive, but just wait until you wake up some winter morning and put your bare feet on the cold tile floor.

"If you are looking for a chic look and comfort on a budget, this is it!" one reviewer raves.The rug is a little over 5 feet long and just under 4 feet wide, covering plenty of floor space. If you spill any food crumbs, just go over it with a hand vacuum, or, though hand washing is recommended, many reviewers say they throw it in the washing machine without a problem.

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Sturdy and Useful Desk Organizers

Metal Mesh Storage Baskets

Mind Reader’s mesh storage baskets might look like they’re better suited for a corporate office than a college dorm room but, trust us on this, simple and functional is a great look for your desk or chest of drawers. Or you can easily slip these containers under your bed or in the closet.

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The sturdy frame lets you stack the baskets one on top of the other and slide them out to get whatever you need without any fuss. "They aren’t super big," one reviewer says, "but you can actually get quite a bit in them."

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Hit the Showers

Handy Laundry Shower Caddy

Odds are your bathroom is going to be all the way at the other end of the hall. You’re going to make that long walk every day, so you’ll definitely want Handy Laundry’s shower caddy tote. Its seven compartments have more than enough space for soap, shampoo, conditioner and anything else you need to get through your morning regimen.

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"I just place the handles on a shower hook," a reviewer says, "and I don't have to worry about the bag touching the floor or anything gross." The mesh fabric makes it okay to bring into the shower with you. Water just passes through the bag and dries out quick.

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Have Fun with Mood Lighting

Waterproof Copper String Light

One of the least attractive aspects of any dorm room is the harsh institutional overhead lighting. 12APM’s string lights offer a fun alternative—a 66-foot string of copper wire with 200 LED lights that bring a "sweet and bright" glow to your walls or ceiling.

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The LED bulbs don’t heat up, so it’s safe and easy to run them back and forth along your walls, holding the wire in place with thumbtacks. Plus, the string is so thin, pretty much all you’ll see is the light. "My room is so peaceful now because of these!" one reviewer says.

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Maximize Your Desktop Space

SimpleHouseware Desk Monitor Stand Riser

You should always try to keep your computer monitor at eye level, so you don’t hurt your back and neck hunching over the screen. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time in your dorm room staring at your computer, you’ll want this monitor stand from SimpleHouseware.

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The metal stand is "extremely sturdy" and "holds a lot more weight than most other brands," according to one reviewer.

It also comes with a sliding tray, side pockets and enough space underneath to keep a keyboard. If you have a laptop, this is still a great option, as another reviewer reports, "The perforated metal of the desk stand keeps my laptop cooler than anything else I have tried."

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Keep the Cable Together

JOTO Cord Management System

We shouldn’t have to push you too hard on this one. You have electronic stuff at home, so you should know that everything with a cord always gets tangled up behind the desk or entertainment center. That is, unless you get yourself a cable management sleeve like JOTO’s.

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Once you all your electronics are set up in your room, pull the wires together, wrap this sleeve around them, zip it up and you’re done. For what one reviewer happily calls a "cheap price," this is a solution to cable clutter that’s "tough as nails."

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Keep Your Devices Fully Charged

TESSAN Desktop Charging Station

TESSAN’s desktop charging station fits three electrical outlets and three USB ports into a 4-inch square. It may be small, but this station can pack in plenty of plugs to power.

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It’s not a regular power strip, so it doesn’t have a surge protector, but that just means you shouldn’t plan on leaving anything plugged into it indefinitely. (The cord does have a three-prong plug for safety’s sake, though.)

"It's perfect for what it does!" one user exclaims. "Leave your phone plugged in overnight, and it will be fully charged by the time the sun comes up." And you’ve still got USB ports left to charge your tablet or other devices.

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“The Best Speaker I’ve Ever Purchased”

Cambridge Sound Works Bluetooth Portable Speaker

The Oontz Angle 3 from Cambridge Sound Works is an extremely popular wireless speaker option. One reviewer calls it "the best speaker I’ve ever purchased," praising the great sound and long battery life. Another reviewer says it’s "more than I would expect" for a speaker at this inexpensive price point, "and it sounds really good in the entire room."

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The Oontz Angle 3 can play for up to 14 hours when fully charged, and the Bluetooth connection works at distances up to 100 feet. We’re not saying that means you should point it out your window and blast your playlist on the quad from your smartphone. We’re just pointing out that you could... You know, if you wanted to.

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Perfect Lighting for Every Situation

LAMPAT LED Desk Lamp

LAMPAT’s LED desk lamp has been called "the best desk lamp I've ever owned in terms of practicality and functionality."It has four preset modes for studying, reading, relaxing and napping. You can also fine tune five levels of brightness on each mode and even set a timer to shut the lamp down after 30 or 60 minutes.

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The black plastic is lightweight with a sleek and modern design Though some users point out that it also attracts dust and fingerprints, a quick wipedown is all it needs.

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Keep Cool With AC

Honeywell Whole Room Tower Fan

Chances are your dorm room isn’t going to be air-conditioned. Depending on where you’re going to school, that could be a problem at the start or end of the school year, so you might want to take a look at Honeywell’s QuietSet Whole Room Tower Fan.

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This fan doesn’t take up much floor space, which is good, because your dorm doesn’t have a lot to spare. It’s got eight different speeds and even the highest speed doesn’t make a lot of noise, so it won’t interfere with your studies. You can use the remote control to change the settings from your bed and even set up an automatic timer to shut it down after you’ve fallen asleep.

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