Dorm Items You Actually Need

Dorm items you may not have thought of

Updated May 12, 2020

Editor’s Note: We’ve updated this article even during this time of pandemic planning because yes, eventually, you will be moving into a residence hall. And it’s good to plan ahead, and order items as you can. We’ve also added a few items from our original article that are specifically good for cleaning and disinfecting. Start putting together your wish and needs lists, and keep on top of your college or university’s residence hall emails.


There are plenty of lists out there for college dorm items to buy before move-in. (You know the type — sponsored by your local bed and bath superstore, chock full of stuff like perfectly matched comforter sets, sheets, towels, and a shower caddy — which you should totally get — and don’t forget shower shoes!) However, there are some items you may not have considered. Like how to tell your charger cord apart from your roommate’s cord, or your roommate’s boyfriend’s cord… So throw in a couple of these items along with your Musts.

1. Washi Tape: If your roommate’s phone and laptop charger are twins of your own, Washi Tape to the rescue! Your roomie will never accidentally run off to class with your leaf-covered charger. Also a nice way to decorate your door so it doesn’t look like everyone else’s door at 2 a.m.

RELATED: Dorm Shopping Just Got Easier


2. Duck Tape: Duck Tape fixes all, and patterned Duck Tape can only be better. We’ll say no more. Guys, if Washi Tape isn’t your speed for designating your charger cords, maybe Duck Tape would work too.

3. Alarm Clock: It’s good to have a dedicated alarm clock, so you don’t have to have your cell phone next to your head all night. (You  know the experts say that’s a bad idea, right?) And cell phones can DIE. Do you need a little more of a nudge to wake up than just an alarm? You have to actually get up and place your feet on Ruggie. Alarm For Sound Sleepers

4. Hand sanitizer machine: Automatically sprays hand sanitizer on your hands. Post it by your dorm door, and keep yourself a teeny bit healthier.

5. Command Hooks: How people moved into dorms before the invention of Command Hooks is a mystery for future archaeologists to unravel. We’re just glad they’re available now!

6. Fan: Lots of residences halls have A/C now, but many still do not. And even if they do, you don’t even think about moving in to a dorm room without a fan. You may think you can make it without one, but you will need it. Guaranteed.

7. Desk Lamp: Don’t even think about moving in to a residence hall without a desk lamp. Yes, we know that’s exactly what we said about a fan above. That’s because a desk lamp is equally important — unless you like squinting to read under a mediocre overhead light, in which case, who are we to judge?

8. Hangers: Your room will have a closet, but no hangers. Bring some, or you’ll wind up pulling wrinkled clothes out of a pile much earlier in the semester than anyone was expecting.

RELATED: What NOT to Bring to Campus

9. Reading Pillow: Odds are very high that you’re going to wind up reading or typing in your bed the night before something is due. Might as well be comfortable while you’re doing so, instead of propping yourself up against an unforgiving cinder block wall.

9. Lap Desk: While you can probably survive without a lap desk, it sure is a nice-to-have when you’re trying to concentrate on your homework instead of juggling book, computer, phone, and whatever else you need around you when you’re studying someplace besides your desk.

10. Power Strip: A good power strip is a must for charging and protecting your various devices. Having one with some USB ports is handy. Having one with a super long cord is handier.

Important: Before you run out and buy a bunch of dorm items, make sure you check your college’s move-in rules. Not everything you want is allowed (ex. some schools don’t allow bed risers), and some dorms come better equipped than others (no need to buy a trash can if every room already has two).



Note: Smart College Visit is an Amazon Affiliate Partner and we make a few pennies off the purchases we recommend, at no additional cost to you.

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