Last year I wrote a huge college shopping list, and it remains my most popular post today! Because the list is so big though, some of the items are more necessary than others, and for those with small dorms, several items listed would be impossible to fit (I wish my dorm was big enough for a futon!). So to simplify things a bit, I’ve narrowed that list down to 12 items I couldn’t have lived without in my dorm. These items will work for any dorm, big or small, and a few aren’t even on my original list. I’ve included links to a few of my favorite choices, most of which I own myself!
Note: This post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure by clicking here.
1. A coffee maker: Whether you like coffee, tea, or oatmeal for breakfast, a coffee maker is a money + time saver. When you’re in a rush to get to class, stopping by the cafeteria or a Starbucks is out of the question, and who knows how long the line will be anyway? I stopped by Costco and grabbed an 80 count box of K-cups at a great discount, so I’m basically paying $0.40 for each cup of coffee! I have a Keurig K55, which I found at a huge discount at Target on Black Friday. If you prefer buying bags of coffee rather than k-cups, you should try out their reusable cup!
2. A weekender bag: For those weekends when you want head out to the city or spend some time at home, a weekender bag is the perfect size to pack a few days worth of clothes. I also used mine for switching my clothes out before winter, which was so much easier than using a suitcase! My Vera Bradley weekend bag has worked perfectly for everything from weekend trips to two week vacations, and I’ve been surprised at how durable it’s been! I also have thissmaller Adidas duffel bag when I don’t need quite as much stuff, and it doubles as a nice gym bag.
3. A fuzzy blanket: My dorm was always freezing cold, so I spent practically all of my time under a blanket. Having a super comfy and fuzzy blanket is great for the winter months, sleepovers, and late night study sessions. Amazon has these cashmere blankets in several colors. I personally went with a faux-fur throw and keep it folded on top of my Urban Outfitters T-Shirt Jersey Duvet (it’s as comfy as it sounds). The bigger the better!
4. A bedrest pillow: These pillows work just about anywhere, from your bed to the floor. It makes sitting up in bed so much easier, and creates some extra floor seating if needed! I found this super fluffy one on Amazon for under $30!
5. An over-the-door mirror: The thing about dorms is you never know what you’re gonna get. My dorm had no mirror (or a sink for that matter), so I had to DIY a bit. Over-the-door mirrors are great because they don’t take up the minimal wall space you have, and they’re full length so you can check out your entire outfit. Some of them even have extra storage inside for jewelry and other small items. Don’t put too much money towards this though; I got a plastic one for $10, and it worked fine!
6. A custom first aid kit: You know your body better than a big company making first aid kits, so I would definitely DIY this one. I grabbed a small storage container and all the medicines I tend to use throughout the year, as well as the basics like bandages. Some of you might have specific medicines you need to take, but to start I would include pain relievers, allergy meds, stomachache meds, itch reliever, and sleeping pills if necessary! You can also start with a mini kit like this and grow it as necessary.
7. Drawer liners: You’d be amazed at how much dust ends up in drawers over a summer of not being used. I’m all about keeping things sanitary, so I put drawer liners in every drawer my dorm came with. They also keep things from shifting around, so no more reorganizing every time you open one!
8. Moveable storage: Most dorm rooms are pretty small, meaning space for storage is super limited and you often have to move big stuff around to exercise/work/live. I’ve fallen in love with this rolling cart from IKEA because it fits basically anywhere I need it! I styled it in my dorm tour post as a mini pantry, which you can find here. They’re also available in beige and dark gray!
9. Paper plates/plasticware: Before moving in, I had this grand idea that I would use all my cute plates and bowls and silverware like a grown adult. That lasted for about a month until I became sick of washing dishes, and they went home the next weekend. Maybe this was because I had to wash my dishes in the community bathroom, but it’s so much easier to go the one-use route.
10. Dishwashing wand: In some cases it’s impossible to avoid washing dishes, so you’re going to need some sort of supplies. I kept my ceramic mugs in the dorm, so every night I would wash those out. A dish wand lets you keep your hands clean vs. using a regular sponge, which you’ll seriously learn to appreciate. They’re relatively cheap too, and when your sponge gets old, you just pop it off and add a new one onto the wand. This one is less than $10!
11. Disinfecting wipes: Cleaning is another chore you’ll want to avoid, so I always went the lazy route and cleaned just about everything with disinfecting wipes. Drawers, desks, sinks, basically everything in your dorm can be cleaned with these, and you don’t have to deal with a spray getting all over your stuff!
12. Reusable bags: These things come in handy all the time, from moving things between your house and dorm to picking up groceries. They’re a lot bigger than your average plastic bag, and if you live somewhere like Austin, your grocery stores (or any stores for that matter) won’t even offer one-time-use bags. I always kept at least 2 reusable bags in my dorm, and a smaller one that folds up nicely in my purse just in case! My favorites are the ones that fold into little pocket-sized pouches that you can throw in your purse, like these super cute fruit shaped ones.
Bonus: One of my favorite ways to make my dorm feel more like my dorm is adding pictures, colors, and art that I love throughout my room. I’ve been a Society6 fan for years, and they’re still my number one store to buy prints, tapestries, and other fun decor! I currently own this succulent print and this tropical tapestry, along with several other cute items. You can use this link to get $10 off your first purchase! Here are some of my favorite pieces:
If you’re shopping beyond a few essentials, check out my discount code page to see if any might be useful to you (most will get you at least a few dollars off).
For more college tips, check out these posts:
How To Prepare For A Successful Semester In College
The Ultimate Guide To Buying College Textbooks
How To To Prepare For College Move-In Day
The Ultimate College Shopping List
My Dorm Room Tour
My College Apartment Tour
The Ultimate List Of College Student Discounts