Top 10 Dorm Essentials for College Students: How To Maximize Limited Space 

Heading off to college is an exciting but overwhelming journey as you meet new friends, try to make sense of your class schedule, and even find your way around campus. No matter what your college journey looks like, it’s crucial to find ways to manage your stress and prepare for the significant transition of moving to college. 

To help you out, our team at Bluebird Self Storage has put together a college student packing list full of tips for utilizing and enjoying your new space.

1. Power Strips and Surge Protectors

You may not realize it, but the outlets in a dorm room are one of its most important components. Unlike a traditional house or apartment, dorm rooms have limited options for outlet placement, which means even fewer options for plugging in your lamp, charger, or mini fridge.

Be prepared by bringing multiple power strips equipped with surge protectors. Surge protection may make buying power strips pricier, but it’s far safer and protects you, your belongings, and your dorm room from power surges.

Consider buying multiple power strips with varying lengths and numbers of outlets. These are not only helpful in creating more spaces to plug in but also allow students to utilize their belongings in a lofted bed. Whether it is a phone charger, lamp, or personal fan, a lofted bed can make plugging in more difficult than it needs to be. Bringing enough power strips eases this unknown stressor. 

2. Mattress Topper 

A mattress topper is an almost guaranteed make or break for quality of life in a dorm. If you’re not sleeping well at night because of a subpar mattress, it can negatively affect your focus and eventually your classwork. Mattress toppers also have a variety to choose from. Most offer differing comfort, quality, and cooling properties, and vary in price. So in the end, it is all up to your personal preference. 

3. Extra Storage Options

Storage is a main concern for all college students transitioning into dorm living. Students are most likely accustomed to more personal space than a dorm can offer, especially when many universities and colleges only supply a small closet, dresser, and desk. To keep your wardrobe from ending up on the floor or your desk, look for another option for clothing, class materials, or other miscellaneous items.

A tiered shelf with drawers is a great option to consider for additional storage. With this, you can choose whether you want more room for clothes or simply more breathing space. Optimizing your drawers can also help with decluttering your dorm and staying organized.

4. Closet Organizers

In addition to keeping clothes from piling up, a closet organizer helps you better visualize your wardrobe instead of combing through countless hangers for that one shirt. Clothing also tends to take up more space than you realize. With an effective closet organizer, you can make the most of limited closet space without feeling overwhelmed.

Some examples of closet organizers can include space-saving hangers, fabric cube organizers, hanging shelves, and a shoe rack. Depending on how much space you have available, these all can help in different ways.

5. Laundry Hamper

A laundry hamper may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how tricky doing laundry can be in a college dorm. Most laundry rooms are communal and located in the basement of the dorm, and the treks up and down the elevator or stairwell can tack a lot of time onto this task. There’s also laundry room etiquette to consider, like not taking up too many washers or dryers at once, or moving other residents’ belongings to make room for your laundry.

Laundry can also build up fast, so if you’ve got a heaping pile of clothing, you’ll need a reliable way to get it to the laundry room. Hampers with a strap, or wheels, or even those that can be worn as a backpack are convenient options for dorm living.

A man holding a white laundry hamper filled with towels and clothes.

Drying Rack

Your dorm’s washers and dryers are often not as reliable as the ones back home, so we recommend bringing a drying rack with you to college. It’s not uncommon for dorm dryers to not get the job done completely, and you don’t want to risk overdrying with an extra cycle.

Be gentle with your clothes (and save some cash if your dorm laundry machines cost money) with a drying rack. Your drying rack is perfect for air drying delicate clothes and saving time for laundry. It’s also a more energy efficient option, so it’s a win-win for you and the environment.

6. Removable Hanging Strips

Your time at the dorm may seem like a lifetime, but odds are someone new will be moving in next school year–which means your university discourages using nails or other invasive hanging methods. Removable hanging strips allow you to decorate your space without damaging the walls or receiving a fine at the end of the year. 

7. Personal Decorations

Dorms can feel sad and bland on the day of move-in. However, this is where students can take the liberty of personalizing the space they will be living in for the next year. Make the room your own!

Some basic decorations that can completely elevate your dorm room include:

  • Wall decorations
  • Lamps 
  • Rugs 
  • Extra seating, such as a futon or bean bag chair
  • Photos 

8. Bedside Caddy

A bedside caddy may not even be on your radar as you’re preparing for school, but it’s an item that’s unique and often vital to the college dorm experience! If you’ve never heard of using a bedside caddy, let us introduce you to this convenient essential of dorm living. 

Unless you grew up with bunk beds, you’ll discover that it’s extremely inconvenient to get down from a lofted bed. A bedside caddy creates an easy-to-reach spot for your charger, water bottle, midnight snacks, and phone. Even if your bed isn’t lofted, a bedside caddy can help you save the space that a bulky nightstand would take up.

9. Lamp Lighting

A Himalayan pink salt crystal lamp lighting up a dark room.

Lamps are a great way to decorate a dorm room. However, they also serve more of a conventional purpose. Typically, dorm rooms’ only source of light is the bright overhead light, or as Gen Z calls it, the dreaded “big light.” While this may be a humorous term for it, it’s no joke that the overwhelmingly bright light can take away the feeling of being “home.” 

Incorporating lamps not only eliminates the harsh overhead lighting but allows students to pick and choose how bright the dorm should be. Starting with a desk lamp and a floor lamp is a good start. Students can adjust their lighting from there after move-in. 

10. Air Purifier 

With so many people living in one building with communal areas like bathrooms and lobbies, your dorm can be a petri dish of germs. Once one person is sick, it doesn’t take long to spread throughout the entire residential hall. That’s why an air purifier is a must-have in your dorm room, along with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

Many colleges lack good ventilation, and even if you don’t catch the freshman flu, keeping your dorm room’s air moving helps prevent stagnation and allergen buildups.

Appliances and Miscellaneous Items

There’s a wide variety of items that can make dorm living as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. While it may be challenging to list every possible need or want before moving in, here are a few additional miscellaneous items and appliances that can be particularly useful for students starting their dorm life:

  • Mini fridge
  • Microwave
  • Air fryer 
  • Electric kettle
  • Coffee maker 
  • Clothing iron
  • Wax melt 
  • Mirrors 

Create Your College Space With Bluebird Self Storage

Whether you’re planning on moving to college, coming back for summer break, or simply looking for more space, Bluebird Self Storage has a solution for you and your student storage needs.
From a wide selection of unit sizes to convenient locations around the southern New Hampshire and Maine areas, our team at Bluebird Self Storage can help you create the space you need for your college experience. Find a Bluebird Self Storage facility near you today!