Dorm Room Guide

Top 10 Essential Dorm Items

Moving into a small apartment or dorm room for the first time can be an exciting and daunting task. Today, I am going to share my Top 10 Essential Dorm Room items and hopefully, it will help you decide what is best for your new home. During the summer before my freshman year of college, I researched many different websites to get insight on what to bring to college. While there are many blog and videos that are similar to this post, it is nice to get a wide range of advice from different perspectives. Not everyone’s college experience is the same, so their rooms shouldn’t be either. I hope this post gives you some helpful tips on what to bring to college!


#1: Bunk Bed Shelf

Bunk Bed Shelf from Bed Bath and Beyond

This is a MUST HAVE item for those who have lofted beds. It is a great place to add a little storage for your electronics during the night as well as a space for anything you need to go to bed with (earplugs, book, water, etc). While bed shelves are not very large in size, they are useful because they saves time (and sometimes lives) by not having to constantly climb up and down from a bunk bed to get something. Less trips up and down leads to fewer chances of missing a step when trying to navigate in the dark. For those of you who are extra curious, the charger that I use for my phone is a Samsung Wireless Charging Pad that can be found on Amazon. I really love this because while most chargers have stands, this is a flat charger that I can lay my phone on. There’s some depth to the shelf (about an inch) so I am able to lay larger items (such as my iPad Pro) over my phone. I balance my iPad Pro on the frame of the shelf so that it does not actually lay weight on my phone. Going back to the subject of bed shelves, those who do not have bunked beds but still want some extra storage space can also purchase a bedside caddy.

Bedside Caddy from The Container Store

These storage spaces work the same way as a bed shelf but are instead hung on the side of the bed. The bedside caddy above is from The Container Store. These caddies are normally made out of cloth material and are more suitable for light-weight objects such as phones, glasses, and remotes. This is a great alternative if you are unable to have a desk or bedside table because this offers a variety of storage pockets with different sizes.

#2 Surge Protector/Extention Cord

Chargers from top row Left to Right: Wireless Phone Pad, iPad, Macbook Pro, Lamp #1, Flower Lights. Chargers from bottom row Left to Right: Wireless Phone Stand, Lamp #2, Microfridge

While this may like an obvious essential, it really is. Not only do these protect your electronics in case there is a power outage or surge, they also give more outlets space. In my dorm, I have an 11-Outlet Surge Protector that I bought from Best Buy. Will you need 11 outlets? Maybe, maybe not. Personally, I have used almost every single one of these outlets for various of reasons (see photo caption) but I would advise getting a Protector with many outlets because you CAN NOT stack protectors on top of one another!!!!

#3 Microfridge

Many colleges partner with websites such as Collegiate Concepts to provide microfridges to students. Check the link to see if your college is a participant!

This is a lifesaver for anyone who loves food or is just too lazy to use the communal kitchens that most college dorms have. Please keep in mind the rules and regulations of your dorm to make sure the building’s electrical system is able to handle a microfridge in your room. What makes a microfridge different than a regular minifridge is that a microfridge is a minifridge with a microwave attached to it. This is very convenient because you are able to keep food hot AND cold. There is quite a lot of space in this fridge too.

Lots of space! (The random diet of a college student is also shown)
Real separated freezer (mostly dedicated to ice cream)

I am able to fit half gallon drinks, leftover takeout containers, and lots of yogurt in the bottom portion of the microfridge. The freezer portion is able to fit half-gallon ice cream tubs and many ice packs. The microwave comes in handy when heating up leftovers, making popcorn, or heating up hot water. These microfridges can range from $200-350 so they are a bit of an investment but they are really helpful in the long run.

Eventually, there will be those who will want to use your microfridge because they do not have one of their own. Be nice and offer them space. Most of the time as a way to say thanks, they will offer some of their stored food with you in return. Free food is good food because it is free (college student thinking).

#4 Shoe Rack

My shoerack is from The Container Store

While this is optional, I would call this an essential item because of its practicality. While it is perfectly fine to store your shoes under your bed or in containers, the odds of losing or completely forgetting about a pair is quite high. Unless you are storing seasonal shoes such as winter boots or flip flops, shoes that are out of sight are normally out of mind. With a shoe rack, all of your shoes will be on display and can be easily accessed. Also, shoes that are exposed to wet elements like snow and rain are able to dry more efficiently. Shoe racks add a hint of organizational structure to any room.

#5 Fan

Vornado 160 Small Air Circulator from Target

Whether you live in a cold or warm climate, a fan is a must. Not only does it provide a cool breeze, it also allows for more air circulation. While dorm rooms vary from size to size, smells often linger. Ignoring the most potent smells produced by humans (please make sure that your bathroom window is always open if there is one), food smells are difficult to get rid of. When using a microfridge, cooking food in the microwave often leads to food odor that can linger for hours. As a result, a fan is able to speed up the air circulation process and helps eliminate those odors. While I am no scientist, I have used this trick to help clear up countless popcorn and instant ramen smells from my room.

#6 Portable Vacuum


Dirt Devil Vibe 3-in-1 Corded Bagless Stick Vacuum from Target

Again, this is an optional essential, but if you value cleanliness and have long hair, this is a must. While the majority of your college life should be spent either in class or out somewhere having fun, you still have one room to call home. I would recommend vacuums for dorms that have carpeting because hardwood floors can be cleaned easily with a broom. Unless you have industrial carpeting that is basically tile, you can not easily sweep carpet. The vacuum mentioned above cost less than $30. While there are definitely pricier, higher quality options, a simple and portable vacuum is best.

#7 Ethernet Cord/Adapters

Mediabridge Ethernet Cable (15 Feet) on Amazon
Cable Matters SuperSpeed USB 3.0 to RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet Network Adapter on Amazon

While you can replicate almost every aspect of your dorm to match your room at home, wifi is the one thing that all students have no control over. Unless you are willing to buy your own router and data plan, slow wifi speeds will be an additional roommate. However, there are a few tricks to improving your wifi speed. In my first year of college, I was “fortunate” enough to have a room with the worse wifi in the entire dorm. LITERALLY. Everyone who came to my room has complained about the wifi connection. However, I was able to improve my wifi connection by using an Ethernet Cord and Adapter. Displayed above is the ethernet cord and adapter that I connected to my computer to give it the necessary connection so that I am able to upload this blog. The setup is very simple:

This is a “Network Jack”. Notice I connected the Ethernet Cable to the port below the Red symbol.

Connect one end of your Ethernet Cable (any end) to a RED port. In the example above, the ethernet cord is connected to a port below a red computer sign. Some Network Jacks have a black port. DO NOT connect your ethernet cord to this port as this port is phone jack.


Connect the other end of the ethernet cable to your adapter. Select the appropriate adapter for your electronic device. Here, I used an Ethernet Cable to USB adapter for my Macbook Pro. The last step is to connect the adapter to your laptop. Now you are able to connect to the internet through a cable rather than wirelessly and this should improve your wifi connection.

For those who have noticed, I have previously included a picture of a 15ft ethernet cord and that is the cord that I use in my dorm room. Why a 15ft cord? Unfortunately, my desk (where all my electronics are) is quite far away from the network jack. Because of this, I strung my ethernet cable around my bed and desk to be able to reach the normal area where my laptop is. I was able to hide the majority of the wire behind furniture so it is almost unnoticeable. A standard dorm room is roughly 15ft by 11ft but I would measure the distance from your network hub to your electronics as well as develop a plan as to how you will string your cable to order the correct ethernet cable length.

#8 Velvet Hangers

Premium Velvet Suit Hangers (50 Pack) by Utopia Home from Amazon

While we are always told to pack only the essentials for college, clothes always seem to be a necessity. When compared to plastic hangers, velvet hangers are slimmer so you are able to hang more clothes in the limited closet space that you will have while dorming. The velvet material also clings to clothes while clothing tends to fall and slip off of plastic hangers. While plastic hangers come in a broader selection of colors than velvet hangers, I would rather have a wider range of clothing selection than a wider range of colorful hangers any day.

#9 Command Hooks

While every “Top 10 Essential” video mentions these handy helpers, there is a reason why they are so helpful. In ALL dorm rooms, it is a violation to hang items with nails or any type of material that creates a permanent effect on walls or ceilings. As a result, command hooks are great for hanging items. Besides functioning as a simple wall hook for jackets and keys, there are many different types and ways you can use command hooks:

Command Hooks come in all different sizes

Command Hooks Damage Free 1-pk from Target

Pay attention to not just the size of the hook, but how much weight it can hold.

There are also Command Strips!

Command Medium and Large Picture Hanging Strips from Target

Command strips are great for hanging heavier posters, picture frames, and mirrors!

Utilizing different sized hooks

Command Mini Hooks from Target

Mini hooks can be placed anywhere in the room and are also clear colored. In the example above, I use a mini hook to hang my charging wires when I am not using them. This greatly organizes all my wires and keeps them untangled.

These mini hooks are the same as the example above. The flower string lights are from IKEA
Clear hooks are unrecognizable on walls

These clear mini hooks are also perfect for hanging string lights.

The wall hook used is from Target. The frame is specially made for an A4 sized painting and I got it from DAISO for a dollar! For those interested, the painting is custom designed from Etsy. Props if you know the meaning behind the painting 😉

Lastly, command hooks are also great for hanging light frames.

#10 Special Laundry Baskets


Backpack Laundry Bag from Target

Laundry is something that every freshman will struggle with in the beginning of the semester. For those who have never done laundry their entire lives and for those who have done it before, there is a common struggle of transporting one’s clothing to the laundry room. While traditional baskets/hampers are still useful, they are not very convenient. Therefore, it is necessary to upgrade your laundry game. A Backpack Laundry Bag is very efficient because it allows you to carry lots of laundry at once. Instead of blindly walking with a giant hamper in front of you, you are able to carry your clothes on your back, freeing your arms and hands from having to lift it. These Backpacks also have compartments for your laundry detergent and other needs.

SnapBasket XL Collapsible Laundry Tote from Bed Bath and Beyond

Another unique laundry basket is the SnapBasket. Unlike the traditional plastic hampers that are compact but very flimsy because of their design, this tote has a strong structure that securely snaps into place and creates a solid frame to hold lots of clothes. I really like how this is able to snap and fold flat so it is easy to carry and store when not in use.


I hope this post gives you some helpful tips on what to buy for your dorm room! Remember that every dorm room and lifestyle is different and feel free to comment down below on your dorm room essentials. Good luck and I hope you have a wonderful semester!


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