Larry Lapidus


The Must-Have College Dorm Items You May Not Have Thought of and Can’t Live Without

If you have a child who’s about to go off to college for the first time, you’re probably drowning in to-do’s and to-buy’s. You may already have read 153 “dorm essentials” lists. A comforter and pillow, check. Cleaning supplies, check. Bathroom stuff, check. But there are a few things you may not have considered. Now that we’ve successfully made it through freshman year with our daughter, we’re sharing a few of the must-haves that made her life easier.

Ultra-slim hangers

Dorm closets aren’t what we’d call spacious, and you’ve got to do what you can to maximize the space. These skinny hangers take up less space than those chunky plastic guys, which means you can cram more clothes in there. The texture also keeps stuff from falling off so all those college t-shirts don’t end up in a pile on the floor.

Foldable chair

Floor space is limited in most dorms, but that doesn’t mean your college student won’t have friends over. A chair that folds is key because they can stash it under or behind the bed when not in use.

Chair covers

Dorm chairs are gross. Period. And, a chair cover is a great way to add a little design flair into the space.

Bottom sheets only

Have you heard that millennials are doing away with top sheets? College students are running with this trend, so don’t waste your money. And remember to buy size twin XL for the bottom sheets—this is the most common size of dorm mattresses.

A good mattress cover

This may be the only time you want to allow yourself to think about how many other people have slept on that mattress, and what they might have done on it. (Eww, we know.) Now go out and buy something with the word “antibacterial” in it.

A good mattress topper

Yes, one more thing you’ll want to buy for your child’s bed. This one isn’t a necessity—unless the quality of your college student’s sleep is important. These mattresses aren’t exactly what you’d call cushy, and a memory foam topper can make a huge difference.

IKEA bags

We were late to the IKEA bag party, and now we don’t know how we lived without them. Whether your child needs a place to stash snacks, sweatshirts, towels, or shoes in the dorm, or just wants a sturdy bag for transporting dirty laundry home, these bags are invaluable. And they’re only $5 apiece.

A decent quality fan

Don’t count on a consistent temperature in the dorm. Depending on the college’s geographic location and the particular dorm room’s orientation, your child may get toasty. A fan that clips to the bed is your best bet since there will likely be limited floor space.

A humidifier

Depending on the age and maintenance of the dorm, you may have a moisture issue. In our experience, it was hit or miss (Our daughter didn’t have an issue in her room, but many of her friends did). Since she’ll be staying in a different dorm this year, we’re going the “better safe than sorry” route and purchasing one in case she needs it. We’d rather have a fan on hand if needed than have her dealing with musty surroundings while we search for one.

A book light

The overhead light might be the only light in the dorm room, although many also have desk lights. Still, this may disturb your child’s roommate. A light they can use to illuminate a small area over their book or laptop while they’re in bed can be quite useful.

Noise-cancelling headphones

If he or she can’t get their roommate to stop yapping or turn down the music, these headphones will do it for them.

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