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10 Dorm Room Essentials Every College-Bound Kid Needs This Year

Keep them safe and comfy in their home away from home.


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It’s that time of year again, when parents and their college-bound kiddos are busy shopping for dorm room essentials, all while navigating a bittersweet roller coaster of emotions. This year in particular, many families are experiencing a higher level of anxiety than usual, as COVID-19 precautions make dorm life more complicated for those who are able to live on campus and attend classes in person.

Luckily, there are some things we can do to help keep our children safe and comfortable in their homes-away-from home (besides urging them to wash their hands often, wear a mask, and carry hand sanitizer everywhere). Among the 10 dorm room essentials we’ve rounded up below are items that will not only make college life cozier and more convenient, but can help protect kids from the spread of viruses, including COVID-19. From bedsheets and fluffy robes to air purifiers and UV-light disinfecting devices, we’ve got the college packing list started for you!

Keep scrolling to shop our picks for the best dorm room essentials to pack for your college-bound kids!

Dyson Pure Cool Me BP01

dorm essentials air purifier

Where to buy: $349.99, Dyson

Why we like it:

  • Captures 99.97 percent of pollutants and allergens
  • Easily fits on bedside table

An air purifier is a great thing to have in a dorm room, and the Dyson Pure Cool Me is the perfect choice to send off to school with your child. Not only is it compact, but its Core Flow technology creates a steady stream of purified air  that helps them stay cool, breathe easier, and (hopefully!) stay healthy. It has 10 speeds and works like a traditional fan — except the air that flows out is free of allergens, pollutants, and that pervasive gym sock smell that seems to inhabit every teenager’s room. An LCD screen tells your child when it’s time to change the filter — just be sure to include one in the care package you send every month or so!

Brooklinen Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle

dorm essentials sheet set

Where to buy: $216 (Originally $320), Brooklinen

Why we like it:

  • 480-thread count for ultimate softness
  • Buying the bundle saves 25 percent!

College kids need their sleep, and a comfortable bed is at the top of the list when it comes to dorm room essentials. Splurge on your student and get them Brooklinen sheets, which are the best of the best — high-quality, long-lasting, and luxurious. Go for the bundle and save on a bottom sheet, top sheet, extra pillowcases, and a duvet cover. Choose from a plethora of colors and patterns, including this cute green polka-dotted print. (Shopping tip: Most dorms have Twin XL beds!)

L.L. Bean Organic Terry Robe

dorm essentials terry robe
L.L. Bean

Where to buy: $89, L.L. Bean

Why we like it:

  • Optional monogram means it won’t get mixed up with someone else’s laundry
  • Made from 100 percent, super-soft organic cotton

A robe is a must when you’re sharing a bathroom down the hall, and this L.L. Bean one will make your student feel like they’re at a day spa. Plush French terry makes it as soft as a cloud, it has pockets (because you know they’ll be carrying their phone to the shower with them), and you can have it monogrammed so no one accidentally swipes it, thinking it’s theirs! (Boys need robes too — order the men’s version here!)

Ugg Ansley

dorm room essentials ugg slippers

Where to buy: $100, Ugg

Why we like it:

  • Super soft and warm
  • Available in 5 colors

Chances are, when the weather gets cold and your child stays inside as much as possible, they’re going to pretty much live in slippers. So get them the fluffiest, warmest pair your budget allows. The Ansley from Ugg is a classic that’s lined with soft-as-a-cloud wool and has a rubber sole that can even be worn outdoors. Cute enough to wear with jeans and PJs alike, they come in five versatile colors and are sturdy enough to last long after graduation day! (For men, try the Ascot, $110.)

Orbz Divided Portable Shower Caddy

dorm essentials shower caddy

Where to buy: $20.99 (Originally $25.99), Wayfair

Why we like it:

  • Durable and mildew-resistant
  • 9 different compartments for storing toiletries

This affordable and adorable shower tote is perfect for carrying shampoo, razors, soap, and other essentials down the hall to a shared bathroom. Holes in the bottom provide drainage, so water won’t get trapped and stinky inside, and the sturdy plastic is easy to clean. This is a dorm room must-have, for sure! (Need a less girly, not-pink version? Try the Fincher bath caddy, $23.99, Wayfair.)

Huanuo Lap Desk

dorm essentials lap desk

Where to buy: $59.97, Amazon

Why we like it:

  • Built-in holders for phone, tablet, and pens
  • Lightweight and portable

Even if their dorm room is furnished with a desk, there’s no denying the appeal of working in bed from time to time. Make it comfortable for your college student to do so with this wooden lap desk, which features a bolster to support their wrists, a spot for their pens and electronic devices, and even a built-in mouse pad.

TaoTronics Desk Lamp

dorm essentials desk lamp

Where to buy: $47.99, Amazon

Why we like it:

  • Includes USB port for charging a phone or laptop
  • 7 brightness levels and 5 lighting modes

Living with a roommate means sometimes one person is trying to sleep while the other is staying up late to study. Make sure they don’t disturb each other by furnishing them both with bedside lamps that have multiple brightness options! This one is equipped with a USB charging port, which they can plug their phones and laptops into, and has touch control for easy on/off, dimming, and switching between lighting modes.

Oyrel 5-Tier Shoe Rack

dorm essentials shoe rack

Where to buy: $17.99, Amazon

Why we like it:

  • Perfect for small spaces
  • Easy to assemble

Dorm rooms are notoriously cramped, so anything to save space is a welcome addition — and this shoe rack is no exception. Constructed with sturdy metal pipes and fabric shelves, its simple design goes with any décor and is ultra-functional. Does your child have a shoe wardrobe that rivals Carrie Bradshaw’s? You can stack two on top of each other for even more storage!

AMIR Solar Powered String Lights

dorm essentials string lights

Where to buy: $17.99, Amazon

Why we like it:

  • 8 different lighting modes
  • No batteries or outlet needed!

Fairy lights help make any space feel special, and these solar-powered lights are perfect for dorm rooms, where electric or battery-powered string lights are often off-limits. Two hundred LED bulbs on a 72-foot flexible copper wire make it easy for your student to decorate their space exactly as they like. They turn on automatically when it gets dark, charge up even on cloudy days, and hold a charge for up to 14 hours.

59S UV Light Sanitizer Bag

dorm essentials UV sanitizer bag

Where to buy: $199.99, Amazon

Why we like it:

  • Quickly disinfects phones, glasses, keys, and masks
  • Portable and easy to use

A must-have in the age of coronavirus, this UV sanitizer will help keep your child’s phone, glasses, keys, pens, and anything else that fits inside free of germs, bacteria, and viruses. Just put the items inside, zip it up, push the button, and within three minutes the ultraviolet rays will zap up to 99.9 percent of all that bad stuff, without the use of water or chemicals. Knowing they have this with them will help put your mind at ease, when you can’t be there to bug them about keeping things clean in person.

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