42 Dorm Room Essentials 2021 College Students Can’t Live Without

Looking for the ultimate dorm room essentials 2021 list? This post goes into detail on all the must-have items you will need when you go to college! Trust me, you'll be grateful you learned about this stuff now, rather than after you've already moved in.

dorm room essentials

Packing for college has to be one of the most stressful things ever 😂I remember feeling like I was forgetting everything and not packing things I would actually use; chances are if you're reading this you're getting ready to pack for college yourself (yay!) and want to know exactly what to bring. Here at BSL, amongst our team of 6 girls who have all been to college (4 of whom are still in college), so we've compiled the ultimate list of dorm room essentials. Only the best of the best dorm bedding essentials, bathroom essentials, closet essentials, decor essentials, kitchen essentials, and other must-haves. Whoo! 

If you're feeling overwhelmed, stress no more because we seriously have got you covered! I have a save and a splurge option for every single essential. If you want to get something a little more boujee, go for that splurge, but if it's something like a plastic plate, maybe go for that Target option 😉!

This post is all about dorm room essentials 2021.



1. Mattress Topper


Having a mattress pad is CRUCIAL in college. Those dorm mattresses are seriously the worst. If you're going to buy anything from this post, buy this!!!

I listed two options above. The splurge option is what I used my first two years of college and then passed down to my sister when she went to college. Honestly, though, it's really not a splurge when you compare it to fancier name-brand mattress toppers.

It is GOOD and truthfully, made my bed even comfier than my mattress at home. I can't recommend it enough, but if you need to save a couple of extra bucks, the save option has great reviews too!

I recommend getting 4" or more and make sure you get the twin XL size.

2. Dorm Sheets

If we are talking about dorm room essentials 2021 then we can't not bring up sheets. While this is probably pretty self-explanatory, I do think having some good sheets are important! Of course, you can't go wrong with some basic white sheets, but I also believe if you ever want fun sheets, a dorm room is a place to do it!

Later on in life, you probably won't have leopard sheets, but in a dorm, patterned sheets and a white comforter are adorable!! It's the perfect pop of pattern or color without it being your entire bedding.

3. Dorm Comforter / Duvet Cover

Let me let you in on a big dorm tip, get a comforter instead of a duvet (which would also need a duvet cover)!! It is so convenient for everything to be one piece. Then, when you wash your bedding, you never have to deconstruct anything and try to put it all back together like it was before. 

Honestly though, I had a duvet cover, and it wasn't the end of the world (I just wouldn't do it again). There are cuter duvet cover options too. You just have to be willing to put in a little extra effort doing laundry. 

My favorite places for Twin duvet covers:

  • Urban Outfitters  - Can be pricey, but SO cute and trendy
  • Amazon - Cheap and a ton of options
  • Target - Cheap(er than Urban) with trendy options

For more dorm bedding inspiration, read about the Insanely Cute Dorm Bedding Everyone Is Obsessed With This Year.

4. Bed Shelving


Okay, this isn't necessarily a matter of save vs. splurge, but more how much shelving do you really need? If you're limited on space, maybe go with the over-bed shelf, but if you just need a place to set your phone at night, go for the side table one!!

Trust me, you're going to want one of these, especially if you're on the top bunk or have a lofted bed.


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5. Dorm Headboard


A headboard instantly makes your bed feel way more homey and luxurious. It can also make your room seem a lot more decorated. This amazon option is perfect if you are just looking for something simple. 

If you're looking for something a little more trendy or fancy, definitely check out the Dormify headboards. They even have a headboard cushion option that secures to the wall with six command hooks!! 

For more headboard options, check out these 14 Insanely Cute Dorm Headboard Ideas That Will Make Your Dorm Look WAY Better

6. Throw Blankets


You would think this is a given, but when I got to college, and my roommates and I decided to have a movie night, guess who was the only one with a blanket? Me! Don't forget to bring a cozy blanket with you to college! 

You will love the colors and textures in the amazon throw blankets I linked!! If you want something reallyyy nice, definitely check out the barefoot dreams blanket. I know it seems like an insane amount of money, but they really are nice (plus it would make an amazing gift). 


7. Mesh Shower Caddy 


I am very passionate about this... please get a mesh shower caddy NOT a plastic one!

I made this mistake my freshman year and got a plastic shower caddy. Here's what happened with that... every time I would shower, water would get stuck in the plastic grooves. I would go back to my dorm room, put the shower caddy on the ground, and five minutes later, there would be a huge puddle on the ground. 

So moral of that all, get a mesh shower caddy because water drains out of it way better. This one is my favorite mesh shower caddy (used my sophomore year). Once you move out of dorms you'll probably throw it away, but it is essential for when you do live in a residence hall.

college planner

8. Towel Wrap 


Let me tell you- I used this dorm essential every single day in college. So when I say this is an absolute dorm room essentials 2021 item... I mean it. It's pretty much a MUST for college (especially in coed dorms).

Most dorms have you walk from the dorm room to the shower. You will see all kinds of people in the hallway (sometimes even whole tour groups🤦🏼‍♀). It's nice to not have to worry about your towel coming off. I also like to wear it as I do my makeup and blow-dry my hair.

9. Shower Shoes


Oh my gosh, this is a true dorm room essentials 2021 item. It doesn't matter which type you get, having shower shoes is essential. Trust me, you don't know what or who has been in those showers. Sooo gross. 

Keep your feet safe and clean, and get some shower shoes!! 

10. Bathrobe


Circling back to walking to and from the communal showers, a robe is honestly the way to go. Storytime- I once walked by AN ENTIRE group of high school students on a college tour in just my towel, and never again did I walk back and forth the showers without my robe. 

The save option is honestly so cozy, and I have had that exact one forever. The splurge option is definitely going to cost you a pretty penny, but there is something about the barefoot dreams material that is seriously otherworldly.

11. Towel Set


Just like I said about the sheets, later on in life you're going to have boring, plain towels, so why not have fun patterned ones now? I love the pink set from amazon, it's simple and will last you throughout college. The Pottery Barn Teen towels are just so cute 😭. I love them. 

Towel are a must-have dorm room 2021 essentials item and definitely get towels that are going to look different than your roommate's towels. I think drying off with a roommate's dirty towel ranks as one of the grosser things that I've heard of happening in a dorm. 

12. Makeup Organization 


There is literally no storage or extra desk space in the dorms, so it's essential to try and keep everything organized. If you're anything like me, my makeup is usually all over the place when I get ready if I don't have a specific place to put it. 

Makeup organizers are a definite dorm room essentials 2021 item for me. Having an organization system for your makeup is a fantastic way to keep it all in one place and off your desk. Both of these options aren't too expensive, but if you're looking for a really great deal, always keep an eye out at your local TJ Maxx/HomeGoods/Marshalls for makeup organizers!! 

If you're an organization freak like me, read about the 27 Dorm Room Organization Ideas You’ll Obsess Over


13. Magic Space Saving Hangers


Talk about limited space!! These dorm room closets are legit TINY, you're going to need to maximize the space with some fancy hangers like these. You can basically have five times the amount of shirts in one hanger! This was practically invented for the dorm room.

If you're anything like me with clothes, you're going to need as much space as you possibly can.

14. Curtains to Cover Closet

college dorm closet

Create your own "curtain door" for your dorm closet:

Many dorm room closets are open with no door at all; this makes the room seem so much messier than it actually is because you can see all the clothes. 

Check pictures of your dorm room and see if you have a door or not. 

If not, I highly recommend getting curtains. All you have to do is get the tension curtain rod adjusted in the closet frame and add some cute curtains! 

Read about the 15+ Best Places To Buy Curtains before buying anything!!☺

15. Non-Slip Hangers


I literally can't stand when my clothes are all falling off their hangers and all over the bottom of my closet. Remember, organization is literally 80% of having a "nice" dorm room. Keep it organized, and it looks 100x better.

These hangers will not only keep all of your clothes from falling off the hanger, but they also just look clean and neat. Something about having all matching hangers is just so satisfying. Also, keep an eye out at TJ Maxx/HomeGoods/Marshalls for these velvet hangers (they're always pretty cheap there!

16. Laundry Basket/Bag

Ah, laundry, probably the most dreaded thing ever when living in the dorms. There's nothing like trekking 50 pounds of dirty laundry down to the communal laundry rooms 🙃. These laundry bags are super convenient. 

They are collapsible, so they're super easy to transport (unlike my huge wicker basket 🤣). Both of these options are great! Urban Outfitters has some trendier pattern options if that's the look you want to go for!

17. Full Length Mirror 

Nothing like the classic Target full-length mirror. It's literally $7, and everyoneee has it in their dorm room. I have never seen this gold framed option before, and I am obsessed!! So pretty.

If your mirror is somewhere where you really see it (not behind your door like usual) definitely look for a cute framed mirror! Or you could DIY it by painting the $7 mirror frame.

18. Shoe Organization


This one is another one where it's less about how much you want to spend and more about the amount of space you have! I had room to put a shoe rack in the bottom of my dorm closet, but at some schools, they have wardrobes with no extra space at the bottom.

The over-the-door pockets are super convenient because they don't take up any essential space, and they can hold a ton of shoes! I have also seen people use these pockets to organize jewelry and snacks!


19. Throw Pillows 

Throw pillows are a must for making your bed look super put-together and cozy. I love these cheap velvet pillow covers from amazon that come in a ton of colors to match whatever style you are going for. The Urban Outfitters pillows are sooo cute and trendy, and they also come in a bunch of fun colors as well!! 

I would ONLY stick to having three pillows (max) on your bed! Any more than that will drive you crazy, I promise. I bought like seriously 20 pillows for my dorm room, and they looked cute for a day and then ended up being a pain in my a**.

20. Neon Sign


This might be the trendiest dorm room decoration ever! You will be obsessed with the neon sign aesthetic in your room. It makes such a fun ambiance, and also, you can get the cutest little quotes or symbols.

Imagine having a neon sign with your name right above your dorm bed!! SO cute. This custom neon sign from Amazon, and while expensive, it really isn't thatttt bad when you compare it to the price of custom neon signs from Etsy, etc. This is a "trendy" dorm room essentials 2021 item for sure!

21. Photo Collage


A true dorm room essentials 2021idea...Okay, I know I said neon signs were the trendiest decoration, but I may have lied. These photo collages are literally everywhere. They are perfect for a dorm room because they take up a lot of wall space, there's one of them for every aesthetic, and they don't require anything special to hang them up.

I have seen people make some really cute ones with their own photos and pictures from Pinterest, and they turn out so fun and personalized!! You will literally love the way this turns out in your dorm room!

22. Area Rug

An area rug may seem a little excessive at first, but I actually ended up buying one after being in my dorm room for a couple of weeks! All of my friends had them, and I loved the way their rooms felt so homey and extra decorated. I got my rug for super cheap from HomeGoods, but there are some amazing options from Amazon and Urban Outfitters!! 

This Amazon rug is so cute and would look really good in a boho dorm room. Urban Outfitters has a huge selection of the trendiest rugs ever. I really liked this one because of how simple it was!

For more rug inspiration read about the 23 Trendiest Dorm Room Rugs That Will Transform Your Dorm

23. Tapestry

Tapestries are a perfect way to fill up all that empty wall space in dorm rooms. There are a ton of cute (and some really funny) tapestries out there!! 

Check out these 50+ Most Popular, Cheap Tapestries To Buy This Year for more tapestry inspiration!

24. Photo Display


It's so important to have personal photos hanging everywhere when you are in your dorm room!! There's nothing like looking over and seeing a picture of your family or friends from home when you're feeling homesick 🥺

I had a gold photo grid just like the Amazon one I linked above, but I have seen a ton of other cute options like this wire photo display from Dormify. The Dormify one also comes with mini prints of their best-selling posters!!


25. Personal Silverware Set

So yes, you could just take one of each silverware item from your house, but what fun is that?! I actually have the set from Anthropologie and I love it because I always know where everything is. 

This Amazon set is looking pretty dang nice though. It comes with reusable straws, chopsticks, and your basic utensils!! It's almost half the price of the Anthropologie set too 🙌!! 

26. Dinnerware Set for 1

The famous Target plastic dinnerware!!! Literally everyone I know in college (including me) has these pink plastic plates and bowls. They're only 50 cents, and they're safe for the microwave, plus they won't break if you're clumsy and happen to drop them (pointing a finger at myself)!

If you are into having glass dishes (a girl I know swears by having glass dishes 
😂) these CB2 dishes are perfect because you get everything in one set!! 

27. Quality Water Bottle


You definitely need a HydroFlask for college. You will be OBSESSED (if you don't already have one). If you think spending that much on a water bottle is silly, I get it. But you should check out the save option! Simple Modern makes the insulated tumbler everyone is obsessed with, so I have a feeling their thermos flask would be good!! 

A HydroFlask also makes an awesome high school graduation gift paired with stickers specific to the grad's college!! Get a couple of fun stickers like this, and you have a fun, personalized gift. 

28. Coffee Maker


If you like having a hot cup of coffee in the morning, a personal-sized coffee maker is perfect for you. It's small enough where it won't take up a ton of room but still gets the job done! I know the Keurig is good quality and will last you forever (my roommate has one, and it works like it's brand new)!

The other coffee maker is only $40 and has really high reviews on Amazon, so I have a feeling it would be a great option if you're on a budget! 

Get some K-Cups to make: 

If you're looking for more dorm appliances, check out these 24 Life-Changing Dorm Room Mini Appliances College Students Need

29. Food Storage Container

This is another thing that I think most people forget!! You definitely need one good Tupperware/food container. Of course, you could just take one from home, but a pressed flower one is pretty dang cute. 

I used my glass food container literally every single night when I made overnight oats!! 

Make sure to check out these 25 Best College Meal Prep Ideas that you could use your handy little container for 😉

30. Mini Fridge


Some schools may provide you with a mini-fridge, so definitely check before you go!! I am obsessed with vintage-looking fridges (think Smeg 😍), and I know you will love this adorable Frigidaire mini-fridge

If you are looking for something that gets the job done and has no extra frills, this Amazon mini fridge is perfect! It's one of the cheapest mini-fridges I have seen, but apparently, it goes on sale often (so keep an eye out)!

For more fridge content, check out these 16 Dorm Fridge Options With Five Star Reviews On Amazon


31. Small Vacuum 


I am a clean freak and probably kept my room cleaner than 70% of college students, BUT this vacuum is amazing in any dorm room. It's cheap and small but let me tell ya, it's mighty.

Dorms usually will lend you vacuums, but in both of the dorm halls I was in these vacuums were from the 1960s, 100+ pounds, and spit out more dust than anything else.

So, spending $20 on a small vacuum, like this, kept me my sanity and gave me a really clean room; this is a definite dorm room essentials 2021 item!

32. All Purpose Cleaner

Okay, you wouldn't think such a small space would need so many cleaning supplies, but trust me, you will use this on everything. Dorm rooms are kinda nasty, and you will definitely want to spray everything down!! 

I'm a big fan of method cleaning products, so I know you will love this! All of my roommates would always ask to borrow all of my cleaning products (you'll thank me for bringing your own later)!

Make sure to check out The Best Dorm Cleaning Checklist | Everything You Need To Clean Your Dorm Room for more cleaning tips.

33. Trash Bags (specifically these ones)

Obviously, you're going to need trash bags, but the most important thing is that you get some scented ones. You're going to be living in a tiny room with 2+ people and in SUCH close proximity to your trash. If you're not going to be taking your trash out every day, you're going to want some scented trash bags.

These also came in handy during a messy night 
😬. Let's just say these even mask the scent of throw-up, and my room didn't reek for days after the fact 🙌

34. Disinfecting Wipes

Disinfectant wipes are one of the most important dorm room essentials 2021items. You definitelyyy need some disinfecting wipes (especially after Rona 😳). As I said, dorm rooms just get nasty no matter how clean you are. You'll love Clorox wipes because you can just toss them when you're done and you don't have to worry about getting a towel & washing it later. 

35. Toilet Bowl Cleaner

If you are living in a communal dorm, keep scrolling! I lived in a suite one year, and I didn't even think about bringing toilet cleaner. It was definitely essential!

Only buy this if you're living in a suite-style dorm!!

36. Sponge & Dish Soap

Okay, this is another one that I didn't even think about until I was all moved in. If you're going to be meal prepping or even just drinking coffee in a mug, you're going to want to have some basic dish cleaning essentials!

I used these a lot more than I ever thought I would! Any sponge and dish soap will work, I just think the Scrub Daddy sponges are so funny.


37. Planner

Not to toot my own horn, but our BSL college planner is pretty much essential. Hannah, one of our college content creators, has been using the iPad planner her entire spring semester and is literally obsessed!!! You will love it because it is specifically designed for college courses, and it is all on your iPad!! 

If you are looking for a physical planner, the BSL planner has launched and you're going to LOVE IT. It has everything you could want when it comes to getting organized and keeping track of your busy college life. Looks aside, you're going to need a good planner in college!! 

For more planners, check out the 27 Best College Planners For Students To Stay Extremely Organized.

38. Good Backpack


If there's one time to go all out and buy a super nice backpack, it's college! You're going to be lugging around a ton of stuff to and from class, and you need it to not only be good quality but also look cute! 

I have had the North Face backpack for four years now, and it's still good as new, but my recent obsession has been with this black Lululemon backpack!! If you're looking for a more simple, (slightly) more affordable option, check out the Herschel backpacks!! 

For more, check out the 30+ Trendiest College Backpacks of 2021 (According to College Students)

39. Weekender Bag / Duffel Bag


You're going to be taking a ton of weekend trips in college, and you're going to want a simple duffel bag or weekender bag. We are obsessed with the Beis Weekender Bag here at BSL, and we know you will LOVE it if you want to get an amazing travel staple! 

The amazon duffel bag is honestly such a good option if the Beis is a little out of your price range. Seriously having a bag you can throw everything in and fly home for the weekend with is essential 🙌

40. Laptop


(pretty much the only option here)

Okay, yes there are a ton of laptop options, but a MacBook is truly an amazing computer that you will love for college!! Make sure to check with your major before buying anything that you do not need, some special type of computer or device to run different programs.

The best part about buying a MacBook for college is you can get a major student discount!! Go to the Apple website, scroll down to the very bottom, and select "Shop for College" to get a really good deal! Sometimes they even offer free beats headphones for college students.

41. 10 Foot Phone Charger


LIFE-CHANGING. If you don't already own this, treat yourself and buy one! They're pretty inexpensive and so nice to have even if you're not living in a dorm room.

However, these are extra nice in a dorm room. Dorms have very few outlets, so an extra-long charger is essential to being able to lay in your bed on your phone when it's dead...which I know you like to do ;).

These are a definite dorm room essentials 2021 item for me. Also, they're great for using at the library or coffee shop when chargers aren't right next to you! 

42. Clip-on Fan


Another dorm room ESSENTIALS 2021 item. You will be praising this little fan when you're trying to sleep at night in your non-air-conditioned dorm room; this is the only thing that kept me from not losing my sh*t in a room that was literally probably 85 degrees.

I love this fan because you can clip it to the railing of your bed. Unfortunately, it's not rare for a dorm to not have to air-condition, so if you know that yours doesn't, get this clip-on fan

If you have a larger dorm room, check out these larger fan options: 

This post was all about dorm room essentials 2021 list.

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The post 42 Dorm Room Essentials 2021 College Students Can’t Live Without appeared first on By Sophia Lee.