Let’s state the obvious: It’s a weird year to be sending your kid off to college. But as of now, it sounds like most schools are planning to have students back on campus in the fall, at least in some capacity. Which means you might as well start getting those dorm room essentials together—especially considering that the shelves at Target, Walmart and Home Goods are typically pretty picked-over by the end of August. Here, 12 dorm room essentials that will help your kid thrive throughout their freshman year.
1. Twin XL Sheets: Mellanni Bed Sheet Set
These microfiber sheets have racked up almost 54,000 five-star reviews, making them the most popular ones on Amazon. With 43 different colors and patterns to choose from, you’ll have no problem finding a set that fits with their color scheme. Plus, buyers say they get even softer after washing, which might encourage your kids to do laundry for once.
2. A Twin XL Comforter: AmazonBasics Five-Piece Bed-In-A-Bag
Your kid’s style changes every six months, so it’s really not worth investing in an expensive comforter at this point. That’s why we recommend this bed-in-a-bag from AmazonBasics. For just $39, it includes a matching twin XL comforter and sham, as well as coordinating sheets and a pillowcase. Reviewers say the comforter and shams are the real stars of the set, and the sheets are a good backup set to have.
3. A Mattress Topper: Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Topper Mattress Topper
Bad news: From what we hear, dorm room mattresses haven’t gotten any comfier since we last slept on them. Which means your kid is going to need a heavy-duty mattress topper if you want them to have any chance of sleeping well. This one from Tempur-Pedic is three inches thick and made from the brand’s signature memory foam material. The almost 1,000 five-star reviews say it’s extremely comfortable, supportive, and helps you fall asleep instantly.
4. Pillows: Sumitu Bed Pillows (Set of 2)
Packing pillows might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many parents have to make an extra Target trip for them on move-in day. We like these pillows from Sumitu because they’re hypoallergenic and have no-shift construction, so they never get lumpy.
5. A Laundry Basket: Sterilite Ultra Wheeled Hamper
Now that they’re going to have a roommate, it’s time they finally start using a laundry basket instead of just leaving a pile of dirty clothes in front of their dresser. This one from Sterilite is ideal for dorm living because it’s equipped with wheels and a handle, making it easy to haul a full load all three floors down to the laundry room.
6. Clothes Hangers: The Container Store Notched Tubular Hangers
To make the most of their limited closet space, go with slim hangers. These ones from the Container Store have convenient notches to ensure that straps and sleeves stay put. Plus, at just over $1 for a pack of 18, you might as well buy a few bundles and save some for the closets at home.
7. An Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer: The Container Store Over-the-Door Shoe Bag
That limited closet space we just talked about means they’ll need to get creative about storing their shoes. Enter: This over-the-door shoe organizer. It has 24 compartments they can place their shoes in—without taking up precious floor space. “It’s very strong, hangs well and is exactly what I needed,” confirms one buyer.
8. A Full-length Mirror: Rose Home Fashion Door Mirror
A full-length mirror is a must for those first-day-of-school (and, well, every day) outfit checks before running out the door. Rose Home Fashion’s version can easily be hung over the door or secured to a wall.
9. Storage Bins: Homz 66 Plastic Storage Bins (Set of 2)
If your kid’s putting their bed on risers (and, given the tiny square footage of most dorm rooms, it’s a good call to boost their storage space), it’s worth investing in a set of these bins. They can be shoved under their bed to hold seasonal clothes, extra sheets and other miscellaneous items that need a home. They’re clear, making it super easy to see everything you’ve stuffed inside. Pro tip: These bins can also double as boxes for the big move.
10. A Shower Caddy: iDesign Orbz Plastic Bathroom Shower Tote
We’re calling this one a dorm room essential because if your kids are smart (and we know they are), they’ll store it in their room instead of the hall bathroom, where shampoos tend to mysteriously go missing. Opt for a plastic version, like this, over a mesh one since it’s easier to wipe down and is more durable. It has nine different compartments to house all of their necessities.
11. Towels: Parachute Classic Towels Set
Sure, you could go with a cheap set from Target, but chances are those towels are going to be threadbare and falling apart by the end of the school year. On the other hand, this plush 100 percent long-staple cotton set from Parachute will last them all four years (and beyond). It comes with two bath towels, two hand towels and two washcloths. Plus, it’s a little luxury that makes those communal bathrooms slightly more tolerable.
12. An Extra-Long Phone Charger: Anker Powerline II Lightning Cable
Their phone is basically an extension of them, and you know they like to sleep with it charging right next to their pillow. But who knows what the outlet situation will be like in their dorm. With this six-foot-long cable, they’ll be able to plug their phone in and reach their bed no matter what. Reviewers say it’s high quality and durable, so you don’t have to worry about it bending or fraying.
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