Here Are The Best 32 Dorm Ideas You’ve Never Thought Of (2024)

We asked our Grown and Flown community for their best ideas for dorm supplies and furnishings that their teens always used. While you may have covered the shopping basics, here are dorm ideas you might not have considered. They could be game-changers for your college student!

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Best dorm ideas

1. W00Z00 Fan (Amazon)

These fans have become wildly popular and are now available in six colors. It has three speed settings and a compact design to fit on a desk or small surface space in a dorm.

2. Slim Hangers (The Container Store)

TCS - hangers

Hangers are an essential dorm item that you won’t want to forget! These non-slip velvet hangers have slender profiles to maximize closet space. These get great reviews from Wirecutter in The New York Times. Buy in the ten-pack.

3. Levoit Mini Air-Purifier (Amazon)

Dorm rooms are stuffy and dusty. This mini air-purifier by #1 brand Levoit does triple duty by helping students live in a cleaner environment, sleep more easily with the white noise emitted at night and benefit from aromatherapy with a few drops of essential oils applied to the built-in aroma pad.

4. Ultimate Student Planner: College Edition (Class Tracker)

Class Tracker planners help students keep track of their academic life, extracurriculars, work commitments, and more. Don’t let the simple and intuitive weekly layout fool you; the patented design is based on years of research, coaching, and student input. The College Edition features a sturdy, laminated cover, weekly pages explicitly designed for student life, monthly planning pages, goal-setting pages, and more, making this a must-have tool for success.

5. AllerEase Twin XL Mattress Encasement (Amazon)

mattress cover

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

6. Bathroom Under Sink Starter Kit (The Container Store)

If your teen has a suite-style bathroom, this is great for storing all their toiletries, and each person can have a separate drawer for their belongings. It will help keep things neat within the bathroom. Elfa products are The Container Store exclusives and are incredibly durable.

7. Gorilla Grip Mattress Slide Stopper and Gripper (Amazon)

Who knew there is such a thing as a “mattress slide stopper and gripper?” Grown and Flown parents rave about how this thin, dual-sided grip pad (in twin XL size) keeps the mattress topper from sliding off the plastic dorm mattress. This inexpensive dorm idea is genius!

8. She’s Birdie Personal Alarm

she's birdie

If you’re looking for a lightweight alarm for your teen, look at the Birdie. Pull out the pin, and a very loud sound and flashing strobe can be their personal alarms.

9. Master Lock Personal Safe (Amazon)

Is your teen taking prescription medication, keepsake jewelry, or a passport to college? This compact safe may be exactly what they need to keep these valuable things secure. This one has a cable to tether the safe in their dorm room.

10. Rolling Cart (Target)

We can see loads of uses for this cart both in the dorm and, later, in an apartment. Sold at Target, they are available in six colors.

11. Over-the-Door Shoe (and Stuff) Organizer (Amazon)

This lightweight shoe organizer fits over a door and can hold much more than shoes. Students use it to store snacks, toiletries, Clorox wipes, school supplies, and more.

12. Anker Long Phone Charging Cable (Amazon)

charging cord

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

13. Canvas Hanging Sweater Organizer (The Container Store)

A sweater organizer easily stores folded clothes in a closet, freeing up drawer space. This one, available with three or six compartments, gets the top pick for a hanging closet organizer by Wirecutter in The New York Times.

This versatile shelving system can even be used for accessories or purses and is made from breathable poly-cotton canvas with sturdy metal hooks and reinforced shelves.

14. Fridge Cart (The Container Store)

A fridge cart is ideal for elevating a mini fridge for easy access to food. The bottom drawers can store non-refrigerated snacks, paper towels, and cleaning supplies. This is another Elfa product we love.

15. Mini Projector (Amazon)

There is no need to take a bulky TV to a small dorm room, especially when a portable projector is an option. Multiple ports for TV Stick/Box, Chrome-cast, Roku-Stick, Game Console, PCs, smartphones and laptops, DVD players, TF cards, and USB Sticks make streaming movies or video games a breeze.

16. Lighted Makeup Mirror (Amazon)

Illumination in a dorm room is often limited to overhead lighting, and communal bathrooms may not be conducive to putting on makeup. This mirror has three light settings and can be powered by 4 AA batteries or a power cord.

17. Bolster Pillow (Amazon)

bolster pillow

Most dorm beds don’t have headboards, and being able to prop up to read or study can be uncomfortable. This oversized bolster pillow is available in seven colors and has a washable cover. Many of our Grown and Flown members say their students loved having this pillow.

18. Pool Noodle (Amazon)

Use a pool noodle to close the gap between the dorm bed and the wall to prevent phones or other valuables from slipping through the space and falling to the floor. These are available in two-packs, so bring both and share with a roommate.

19. Twin Sheets with Pocket for Phone (Amazon)

Another solution for securing a phone at bedtime is sheets with pockets. These are available in multiple colors.

20. Coat Tree (The Container Store)

Dorms are notoriously short on hanging space — and you’re not allowed to use nails. Thankfully, this coat tree offers a multitude of hooks for hanging coats, jackets, umbrellas, towels, and backpacks. It is also adjustable to move the branches to fit the space best.

21. Drying Rack (Amazon)

drying rack

Another thing she used every time she did laundry was a drying rack for her workout gear — which tended to be what she wore to class most of the time.

22. Shout Stain Remover Kit (Amazon)

dorm ideas

Laundry at school is not like laundry and home; 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.

23. Flashlight (Amazon)

dorm ideas

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.

24. Air Mattress (Amazon)

If your teen has high school friends or siblings visiting, an air mattress will be an extra bed that can be blown up quickly and stored away. 

25. Doorstop (Amazon)

door stopper

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

26. Pottery Barn Teen Area Rug (Pottery Barn)

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 Pottery Barn rug looks great in either blue or grey.

27. First Aid Kit (Amazon)

J&J 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.

28. Bedside Caddy (Amazon)

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

29. BedShelfie Bedside Tray (Amazon)

dorm bed shelf

This bed shelf is another popular way to store a phone, glasses, AirPods, or a book before turning out the lights to go to sleep.

30. Magnetic Paper Towel Holder (Amazon)

We all need paper towels close at hand, and with this magnetic roll holder, your student can connect it to the fridge, where spills are often likely to occur.

31. Electric Kettle (Amazon)

If your teen’s dorm permits, an electric kettle could be a practical addition to their room. Make tea, coffee, hot chocolate, Ramen noodles, or any beverage or snack that requires boiling water. This one has stainless steel auto shut-off (no risk of broken glass.)

32. Brita Pitcher (Amazon)

Students need to have a water bottle with them during the day, which they can fill at stations around campus. A Brita pitcher can keep filtered water cold in a mini fridge. This is a smaller model that holds 6 cups of water.

You Might Also Love Reading:

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

35 Bestselling Dorm Essentials — You can find longer lists, but some of those recommendations are for things your teen may never use. These 35 things are the most popular for most students living in dorms.

About Mary Dell Harrington

Mary Dell is the co-founder of Grown and Flown, the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. She started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and is co-author of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

Read more posts by Mary Dell

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