Here Are The Best 14 Dorm Ideas You Won’t Want to Forget

While you may have covered the basics, here are 14 dorm ideas you might not have thought of and will definitely want to consider buying for your soon-to-be freshman! 

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14 Best Dorm Ideas

1. Mattress encasement

A zippered mattress encasement, that encloses the dorm room brick-like mattress, plus the topper you might have purchased, will all stay cleaner and give your teen the chance for a healthier night’s sleep. AllerEase makes one that is waterproof and is a bedbug and allergen (eg. dust mite) barrier.

mattress cover

2. Long phone charging cable

Many freshmen dorms are old and short on outlets. Since our teens never let their phones leave their hands, the charger needs to stretch from wall to bed, even if that bed is a top bunk. This highly-rated one by Anker is durable, charges at a high-speed and is 10 feet long.

charging cord

3. IKEA Frakta bags

There is no place to store luggage in a dorm room (except for under the bed where it will be disgusting in nine months time) so we suggest these great, inexpensive IKEA bags for moving in and out. They are airtight so perfect for storing off season clothes or extra bedding.

IKEA bags

4. Plastic containers for snacks and more

Students will want to have snacks in their room but bugs, and dare we say mice, could be a problem. This is a handy set that can be used for food, but also for makeup, at a desk for supplies, or to store medicine and first aid necessities (see #13 below.) Microwavable with vent open.

5. Fridge cart

Getting a mini fridge is a no-brainer for college students but what is less obvious is how to store the gear your student would like to have for fixing a snack. Store plates, mugs, paper towels, non-perishable snacks in this cart and make use of the valuable space under the fridge by elevating it. .

6. Shout stain remover kit

Laundry at school is not like laundry and home and teens need all the help they can get. They may not soak a stain, or be able to treat it right away, so give them a box of these Shout Wipes Towelettes.

dorm ideas

7. Flashlight

Yes they have flashlights on their phones but, when the power goes out or they need to get up and not disturb a roommate, you can bet the phone will be dead.

dorm ideas

8. Air mattress

If your teen is going to have high school friends or siblings visiting, an Air Mattresswill be an extra bed that can be blown up quickly, and then stored away. 

dorm ideas

9. A shower curtain that does double duty 

Teens may share a common bathroom in which there is never enough storage room. This incredibly clever shower curtain, with built in pockets, is the answer.

shower curtain with pouches

10. Door stop

Make friends, meet new people, and don’t get locked out of your dorm room the first week of school. Never has such a small, inexpensive item accomplished so much.

door stopper

11. TilePix photo tiles

This is the perfect solution to decorating drab walls in the dorm. Take pics of friends, family, the dog, or your teen’s happy place and create a mosaic of images that adhere to the wall with magnets, not nails.


NOW, Grown and Flown readers receive extra savings for their first order. Take 60% off when you order 12+ TilePix with discount code GROWNFLOWN (Offer ends July 31, 2021, one per customer) For all ship to home orders, FedEx ground shipping is FREE. Order via the iOS app or at   

12. Area rug

Dorm floors are cold, uninviting, and gross. An area rug in a neutral color can be used in the next dorm or apartment and might make it through all four years (with a good wash or dry cleaning over the summer!) We think this washable rug from Pottery Barn is great looking in either blue and grey.

13. First aid kit

It’s crucial to send your teen with a first aid kit of the basics – bandaids, pain relief, something for cold and cough, and a thermometer. But here is also the most comprehensive list of items to think about from a pharmacist/college mom that you should look at before you leave home.

J&J first aid kit

14. Bedside caddy

Elevated beds make it difficult to have a nightstand to hold a book, phone, water bottle, etc. This bedside caddy has 8 pockets with spaces for all.

You Might Also Love Reading:

College Move-In Day: 12 Things That Will Save Your Life – these are 12 of the most useful things that our Grown and Flown parents told us they could not live without on move-in day.

25 Bestselling Dorm Essentials – you can find longer lists, but some of those recommendations are for things your teen may never use. These 25 things are the most popular for most students living in dorms.

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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