Living in a college dormitory has its perks—namely, being able to eat whatever you want without your parents nagging at you—but it also comes with its fair share of downsides. Anyone who’s ever taken up residence in a college dorm will attest to the fact that doing your own laundry, sharing showers, and trying to sleep while neighbors party into the sunrise all take quite a bit of getting used to. However, for every problem, there is a solution—and in this case, the solution is to stock up on an inventory of handy products. That’s right: If you want to survive the chaos that is college, all you need to do is invest in a few dorm room essentials. Herein, we’ve put together your back-to-school shopping list. And if you’re headed to college in the fall, don’t miss these 20 Hilarious Tweets Every College Student Can Relate To.
$8; buy now at amazon.com
Whether you’re trying to study while everyone else is blasting music or you’re struggling to sleep thanks to your roommate’s snoring, these ear plugs will be your school time saviors. And at just $8, they won’t cut into your meager discretionary savings in the slightest. And for more sage advice on scoring a healthy eight hours, learn the 11 Doctor-Approved Secrets for Falling Asleep Faster—Tonight.
Waterproof Mattress Encasement
$18; buy now at bedbathandbeyond.com
From bed bugs to bacteria, there’s no shortage of things that can sneak into the crevices of your mattress and destroy it. So to protect your bed—and yourself–from any damage or diseases, you should always have a waterproof encasement covering your mattress. With a sheet covering it, you’ll hardly even notice it’s there!
$31; buy now at amazon.com
Every college student pulls at least one all-nighter during their four years. And when your late night inevitably arrives—likely during finals—you can study from the comfort of your bed, all thanks to a lap desk. This one in particular even has a special slot for your phone, so you can pull up any relevant study guides while meticulously memorizing course material.
$50; buy now at amazon.com
College dorm rooms aren’t exactly known for being spacious. One way to make the most of the small space you have is with bed risers, which elevate your bed to create extra storage. And some bed rises come equipped with outlets and USB ports, making it easy to use your phone in bed while it juices up. And for more amazing bed accessories, don’t miss the 10 Best Pillows For A Better Night’s Sleep.
$10; buy now at bedbathandbeyond.com
Some newer college dormitories have individual bathrooms in each room or suite, but the more common set-up is a floor-shared communal bathroom with multiple showers. And since you can’t leave your things in a shared shower, where people might toss them out, the best thing to do is to invest in a shower caddy that can keep your items organized and easily transportable.
Starts at $13; buy now at amazon.com
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, athlete’s foot can live both in and around a shared shower space. But if you want to avoid ending up with fungus on your feet (and who doesn’t?), all you have to do is throw on a pair of cheap shower shoes whenever you make a trip to the bathroom. For max convenience, keep them by your dorm room door.
$20; buy now at bedbathandbeyond.com
Don’t let living in a small dorm room with little storage keep you from having fabulous footwear options to choose from. An over-the-door shoe organizer is affordable, easy to assemble, and doesn’t take up any of your precious closet space.
$13; buy now at target.com
Unfortunately, not every dorm room comes with an air conditioner (and many students at prestigious universities with really, really old buildings have to learn that the hard way). But whether or not your room has A/C, you should always show up prepared with a small, quiet fan, because there will likely be times when you and your roommate don’t agree on what temperature to keep the room at. And if your fan isn’t enough, then try these 17 Genius Ways to Keep Your Bedroom Cooler.
$23; buy now at amazon.com
One of the downsides of going off to college is that you no longer have your parents around to do your laundry for you. What this means is that, instead of throwing your dirty clothes all over the place for your mom to pick up and organize later, you are responsible for every last soiled sock. Luckily, you can save yourself a lot of time by investing in a hamper that’s durable and easy to lug to the laundry room.
$8; buy now at ikea.com
Having a toolkit on hand is never a bad idea. You never know when you might need a wrench to fix your bike or a screwdriver to tighten a screw in your bed.
$27; buy now at amazon.com
Charging your sundry electronics every night is going to require more plugs than you’ll find in a standard dorm room. But instead of hogging all the outlets and getting on your roommate’s bad side, just get yourself an extension cord that turns one outlet into as many as six. Or go big and get with extra USB ports, for maximum charging potential.
$13; buy now at amazon.com
Unless you go to a school in a place like California or Florida where it’s consistently warm and sunny, you’re going to inevitably have to switch up your wardrobe when the temperature changes. The problem? With so little room in your room, there’s no place to put your fall wardrobe when winter arrives, and so on. That’s where under-the-bed storage comes in. When you need to switch out your shorts for sweaters, you can fill these bags with all of last season’s wardrobe and safely store them under your bed until they’re once again needed.
$29; buy now at amazon.com
Don’t accidentally miss a morning class because your phone died and your alarm never went off. To guarantee that you never miss an early morning lecture, just get yourself a smart and simple alarm clock. (Some of them—like this one—even come with aux cables and built-in radios.) And if you need another reason to add an alarm clock to your dorm room, sleeping with your phone far away from your bed is one of the 20 Nighttime Habits That Guarantee a Full-Night’s Sleep.
$7; buy now at amazon.com
Just because you’re ready to go to bed doesn’t mean that your roommate is. With a sleeping mask, you can tune out whatever visuals are happening on the other side of your dorm room.
$13; buy now at amazon.com
When it comes to your four years of college, every second counts, and you can’t afford to waste hours of your day sleeping off a headache. With a painkiller like Advil on-hand, you can ensure your time’s spent studying and not staving off a headache.
$8; buy now at homedepot.com
Busy college students have a tendency to forget that dorm rooms don’t clean themselves. And while you probably don’t need to invest in a full-size vacuum or mop, it will certainly make your life easier to always have some disinfecting wipes on-hand. Even if you don’t ever want to tidy up the entire dorm, you can use these wet wipes to just mop up a spill or quickly wipe the dust off dirty surfaces. And when you are ready to give your room a good clean, use these 20 Genius House-Cleaning Tricks That Will Blow Your Mind.
$60; buy now at target.com
When you’re on a studying streak, the last thing you want to do is leave your room and potentially lose momentum. By having a fully stocked mini fridge, you can stay in the zone when inspiration and hunger strike at the same time. Plus, you’ll always have food around when a midnight craving hits. (Some colleges will actually provide you with a mini fridge, so make sure to check your dorm’s amenities before you invest in one.)
$17; buy now at target.com
Come midterms and finals—two weeks out of the semester where your schedule is suddenly in flux—you’ll be grateful to have invested in a giant desk calendar. It’s nice to see your schedule in one big space, unlike the 4-inch display of a phone screen, but a printed-out cal also serves as a contingency in the event your digital one is inadvertently deleted. And if you need help focusing during finals season, try these 60 Best 60-Second Productivity Hacks.
$19; buy now at amazon.com
Many college dormitory floors are co-ed, and so you should always wear a robe both to and from the shower to thwart any risk of accidental exposure. Plus, wearing a bath robe makes you feel like you’re in a luxury hotel!
$11; buy now at amazon.com
Having file organizers on your dormitory desk is an easy way to keep track of tests and study materials. When finals come around, you’ll know exactly where all of your old assignments are (for easy referencing), and you won’t have to waste time scouring your room for rogue pieces of paper. And if your desk is in constant disarray, here are 20 Easy Tips for Keeping Your Desk Organized.
Foldable Drying Rack
$21; buy now at amazon.com
Not all articles of clothing can be run through the dryer—but as you’ll come to learn, the laundry room in a college dorm is not exactly the best place to leave items unattended while they dry. That’s why you need a foldable drying rack. It allows you to safely dry your clothes in your dorm room without taking up too much space (since it’s neatly foldable). If you want, you can even wait until you get to college to pick up this purchase and ask your roommate to split the cost.
$20; buy now at walmart.com
Craving some ramen noodles? Dying for a midwinter pot of tea? Aching for a cup of pour-over to keep you perked while you study? All of these things (and more) can be made with a simple electric kettle that boils water at the touch of a button. And the best part? They hardly require any clean-up.
$40; buy now at dsw.com
The common areas in your dorm room should be treated like any other public space—in other words, you should never walk around in them barefoot. But if you want to wander your dorm halls in comfort, you can always get yourself a pair of sturdy slippers that protect your feet without suffocating them.
$10; buy now at target.com
Well, you need detergent to do laundry.
$16; buy now at amazon.com
If you know how to sew, then you can bring a mini sewing kit to school and instantly make basic repairs on damaged articles of clothing. If you don’t know how to sew, someone will—and might be willing to teach you (or just do the job for you).
$6; buy now at walmart.com
Every college campus has a medical center where you can pick up bandages, but who wants to walk half a mile across campus for a small cut? Just keep your dorm room bandage supply stocked, and you’ll never have to waste time with a small scrape or scratch. And for more first aid tips, don’t miss the 20 Skin Symptoms That Indicate More Serious Health Issues.
$9; buy now at amazon.com
College dorm rooms come equipped with many things—a bed, a desk, sometimes even a microwave. But one thing you’ll rarely find provided: towels, of both the hand (pictured) and regular variety. Sure, you can likely swipe a few from your campus fitness center—but that might result in a fine from your housing association. Just bring a few of your own.
$11; buy now at amazon.com
Most college dorms have water fountains on every floor, and you can take full advantage of these with a simple water bottle. Before you drink up, just make sure that your college isn’t located in one of The 25 U.S. Cities with the Worst Drinking Water.
$13; buy now at amazon.com
There’s some good storage space hiding on top of your dorm room closet. The only problem? Unless you’re approximately the height of an NBA player, you probably can’t actually reach it. Luckily, a foldable stepping stool will give you the boost you need to reach this valuable extra space without running the risk of straining your neck. Plus, you can keep this item for your first post-college apartment and use it in your future kitchen.
$36; buy now at amazon.com
Headphones have a tendency to get lost or broken when they leave the house, so you should invest in a pair just for your dorm room desk. That way, you’ll never have to worry about studying sans soundtrack because your headphones are MIA or out of commission. And for more reasons to blast some tunes, This Is How Music Helps You Burn More Calories.
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