Dorms are designed to be no-frills living spaces that house students who are more focused on learning than luxury. But dorm life doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice every creature comfort. Here are 14 dorm room essentials that will make life easier, safer, and healthier. (See also: 9 Freshman Shopping Tips to Cut College Costs)
1. Oscillating fan
Dormitories aren’t known for their elaborate climate control options. A compact but powerful oscillating fan will not only help keep you cool; it’ll generate a bit of valuable white noise to mask any late night revelry.
And while we’re on the topic of noise, stock up on disposable foam earplugs. If you’re a light sleeper or used to the uninterrupted silence of a private bedroom, the adjustment to dorm life can be rough. Though earplugs won’t block out noise completely, they’ll dampen it enough that you can get some sleep. (See also: How to Fall Asleep When You Can’t)
3. Blackout curtains
Blackout curtains promote sleep by keeping out early morning sunlight. They’re especially useful in rooms with east-facing windows or in urban settings where blinking traffic signals and bright security lights are hard to escape.
4. Microwave and mini-fridge
This kitchen duo will make food preparation and storage a snap — helping you avoid spendy trips to off-campus restaurants. But before you buy, check with the university housing staff or student handbook to determine which in-room appliances are allowed. (See also: The 5 Best Small Appliances for Students)
5. Stainless steel flatware
Rather than throw away money on disposable utensils, invest in a set of flatware for dorm room dining. No need to buy new; you can easily assemble a mismatched collection from yard sales or thrift stores.
6. Shower caddy
Since most dorms feature communal bathrooms, you’ll need a handy way to transport your personal care items. Grab-and-go shower caddies have a place for all the hygiene goods that keep you looking great.
7. Antimicrobial flip-flops
No matter how clean they may be, those communal showers have a distinct “ick factor.” Protect your feet and stop the spread of germs by investing in a pair of slip-resistant antimicrobial shower sandals.
8. First aid kit
Headaches and colds are a fact of life (especially during finals week). Keep a small supply of pain relievers, cough drops, and cold medicine on-hand to make dorm life easier during trying times. And when emergencies happen, make sure your first aid kit includes rubbing alcohol, antibiotic ointment, bandages, and aloe vera gel for burns. (See also: The 5 Best First Aid Kits)
9. Clip-on light
All-night study sessions are a time-honored tradition among college students. Use a clip-on light to illuminate your textbook and not your snoozing roomie. With a flexible “gooseneck” design and durable clip, they’re perfect for bunk bed rails and headboards.
10. Desktop organizer
No matter how virtual our workspaces become, everyone needs a desktop organizer to hold highlighters, pens, sticky notes, and assorted chargers and cables. And when your course load gets heavier, at least your desk won’t be a total mess.
11. Bed risers
Bed risers are an inexpensive way to reclaim precious square footage for seasonal clothes, luggage, and sports equipment. Some risers even come with built-in electrical outlets and USB ports for easy bedside charging.
12. Over-the-door shoe organizer
To maximize limited space in your dorm room, think vertically. Over-the-door shoe organizers aren’t just for footwear. Use the pockets to hold scarves and gloves, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, utensils, and packaged snacks.
13. Flexible furniture
In tight spaces, every item needs to pull double duty. Keep an eye out for small-scale multiuse furniture (an ottoman with a built-in storage compartment or a shelf that can also serve as a room divider). Also, consider items like folding chairs and TV trays that can be easily stored when not in use.
14. Cleaning kit
Spills, stains and other minor mishaps need quick attention. Assemble a small cleaning kit with stain removers, laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner, and a microfiber cloth. It’ll definitely come in handy when those inevitable “oops!” moments happen.
Let me wrap things up with one final, but crucial, tip: Before investing in any item that can be shared, check with your soon-to-be roommate. Together, you can coordinate shopping lists to avoid duplication or split the cost of big-ticket purchases.