Before you make your shopping list, take some time to get to know your dorm. While it can be tempting to want all new stuff, overdoing it is pricey and can lead to overwhelm. Keep in mind, the more you buy now, the more you'll need to transport home and to your next living quarters in the following school years.
Talk to your roommates and see what they're bringing, so you can establish what you're sharing and what's missing. Additionally, tour the kitchen beforehand if possible to get an idea of how much storage space is available and what small appliances are available or allowed. You'll also want to find out the size of the beds in your dorm to see what fit of bedding you'll need.
Top 10 college dorm room essentials
Cooking supplies are technically a list all on their own, but since you're going to be living with others, you're likely not going to bring – as the saying goes – everything and the kitchen sink. Depending on the equipment in your college kitchen, you may need pots, pans, baking sheets, mixing bowls, knives, cutting boards, measuring cups and spoons, a colander, a cheese grater, tongs, and a bottle opener. You may also want to bring your own food storage containers to store your leftovers and pack your lunch.
Pick up a set of durable yet inexpensive cooking utensils that you can be OK with losing. Everybody is away from home for the first time and potentially new to cooking, so they may get damaged or wind up with someone else by accident. You can never own too many eating utensils when living with roommates, either.
3. Hot beverage tumbler
Coffee or tea in the morning can help wake you up, but everything seems to happen on the go in college. Take your hot beverage on the go with a tumbler, and be sure to get one that you can close and put into your bag once it's empty, to avoid forgetting it in class or on the bus.
4. Can opener
This handy tool deserves its very own mention, as it's easily forgotten. A cupboard full of cans at dinner time is zero fun when you nor your roommates own a can opener. You may even end up being the dorm room hero.
5. Trash can
Most likely, a trash can already sits somewhere in your dorm, but it's super convenient when you keep one in your own living space so you can toss out your garbage immediately.
If you want to go longer than a week without doing laundry, you're going to want at least two or three bath towels. Also, be sure to check with your roommates to see if someone is bringing hand towels and kitchen towels or if you need to add them to your list.
7. Laundry basket
You'll need at least one hamper to toss your dirty clothes into and use to transport to the laundry room. Pack your laundry detergent and fabric softener right in it, so they're sure to make the trip.
8. Shower caddy
Traveling to and from the shower would be a trick without it. Even if you can leave your products in the bathroom, these are handy if you're not in the mood for sharing your toiletries. Remember to fill it with everything you need: loofah, soap, shampoo, conditioner, body spray, moisturizer, deodorant, hairbrush, toothpaste, toothbrush, and more.
9. Earplugs and eye mask
Technically, this one counts as two items, but they go hand in hand. It's not common for roommates to share a sleep schedule, not to mention others in your dorm could be awake at any hour. The earplugs will drown out the sound of your roommate's keyboard and ambient noise in the building. And the eye mask will block their lamp or any light filtering in the window.
10. Bed cover
Other students likely used your mattress before you, and since they're a trick to clean yourself, you may want a layer of protection between it and your fresh bedding. They also help reduce allergies, and a waterproof one will keep your mattress dry if you spill a drink in bed.
Uncommon dorm room essentials
11. HDMI cord
While you're likely to watch movies or shows on your laptop, you'll be glad to own an HDMI cable so you can hook it up to a TV and view your favorites on a bigger screen when the opportunity strikes.
12. Power strip
A power strip is valuable if your living space only offers one plug, especially when more than one device needs to charge at a time. These handy tools increase the number of outlets available to you.
13. Sewing kit
School is expensive, so new clothes may not be the ideal use of your budget if you end up with some rips. With a sewing kit, you'll be able to fix them up yourself and make your clothes last longer.
You may not know you need a certain tool until a situation arises and you find yourself unprepared. However, a hammer or screwdriver is likely a challenge to come across in a dorm. Not only will it be handy if you need to assemble furniture, but you'll also own the proper tools for putting up or removing decor items.
15. First-aid kit
Your dorm should keep a communal first-aid kit, but with your own box of basic medical supplies, access will be quick and straightforward when you need it.
16. Dry shampoo
This handy toiletry is your hair's best friend when you accidentally miss your alarm or on those days when you feel too busy even to shower. It happens, and no one will know if you keep this in your caddy.
Another item that you'll want on hand if you need it is an umbrella. Keep one handy in your dorm, and if you're living somewhere that gets rain often, store a collapsible one in your bag.
18. Toilet plunger
No need for much explaining with this one. Do you want to have to ask around in the event you need to unclog the commode or take matters into your own hands?
19. Poster strips
You can avoid using tacks or nails to implement your dorm room decor ideas by using poster strips. Even if it's a photo or two you'd like to put up, the tape you may usually use can damage the paint. Poster strips are simple to put up and convenient to remove without damaging the wall or your pictures.
Cleaning supplies for your kitchen, bathroom, and living space are essential and often forgotten. Remember a broom, mop, toilet brush, duster, and some cleaning cloths.
Refuse to let the stress of making sure you have all you need get in the way of making the most out of your college dorm room experience. Remember to keep it simple, avoid overdoing it, and most importantly, enjoy yourself. If you do forget something, you can easily buy it online with delivery to your room.