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8 Things I Wish I Owned When I Lived in a Dorm

Dorm Room Essentials


A lot has changed in the world since I was an undergrad (seven years ago now… I honestly don’t know where the time went…). Myspace isn’t really a thing anymore, Facebook has changed so much it barely resembles what we so eagerly signed up for when our university FINALLY got added, AIM has died a slow death, iPods are rarely seen as a separate entity, and everything you used to use your computer for can now be done on the phone that fits in your back pocket.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is the nature of dorm life. Rooms are still tiny, closets are still far too small, bathrooms are still communal, shower shoes are still needed, and walls are still most often white or beige cinderblock (lucky you if you get actual drywall!).

Now, the agenda post was supposed to be my last back-to-school post, but after I watched campus move back into the residence halls last week, I got to thinking about the kind of things I wish I had had while I was living that cinderblock surrounded life. There are so many cool things out now that are super conducive to life in a dorm, and so I’ve gathered a list of eight of the things I think would have made my life SO MUCH EASIER as a dorming student.


First, a Keurig Coffee Machine. I got one of these babies (mine’s blue, though I am admittedly very fond of this orchid colored one) for Christmas from my Aunt after I moved into my first non-school-housing apartment in 2012, and let me tell you, it’d be pretty amazing for dorm life. When I was in school, I had a coffee machine in my room, but it was just a small, regular drip machine – and it could get really messy, what with the pouring, and the coffee grounds, and the dripping filter. Additionally, with the drip machine, you’d have a pot and a filter container to wash after you were done. But with the Keurigs, there’s no extra hassle. Just pop in a K-cup and you’re on your way. They’re also perfect for heating water for tea – just run a cycle without a K-cup. And as if that wasn’t enough, the large cup is also the perfect amount of water to fill a Ramen Cup-O-Noodles to the fill line.

I do admit that I think I would prefer the bigger version with the water tank on the side to the mini – particularly now that I’m in a real apartment with a real kitchen, but the mini is much more compact – perfect for the limited space of a dorm room.


2) Poo-pourri. Oh my goodness would this have been awesome to have in a communal bathroom. My mom brought home a bottle of this one day a few years ago because she thought it was hilarious, but lo and behold, turns out it actually works. This would have been so handy to have a really big bottle of… could have saved me (and others!) so much sneaking around, holding it in until the bathroom is empty, and hurrying out before anyone saw it was you who “did the deed.” Because even though EVERYBODY POOPS, and NOBODY’S POOP SMELLS LIKE FLOWERS, for some reason it’s still sort of taboo to admit that the smelly one was yours. And even if you’re not someone who is embarrassed by that kind of thing (I admit that the older I get the fewer shits I give… pun intended), there’s a practical purpose for this one too – to keep the communal bathroom as a whole fresh.

swivel sweeper

3) The Swivel Sweeper. I got one of these last year for quick touch-ups in our mostly hardwood floor apartment, and honestly it would have been such a perfect vacuum for a tiny dorm room. It does a great job on hard surfaces and throw-rugs alike, and the new model has a handy feature where the brushes come out for easy removal of hair that gets trapped around them. All we had when we were in school was a regular dry swiffer for the hard surfaces, and we had to borrow the big floor vacuum from maintenance when we wanted a real vacuuming of our throw rugs, mainly because we couldn’t find a vacuum small enough that still actually, well, vacuumed.

hot hair tool storage

4) Hot Hair Tool Storage. One of the biggest pains in the butt in a teeny tiny dorm room is using hot hair tools like blowdryers or straightening irons because, well, where do you place them down when they’re still hot? And you can’t put them away until they cool down enough, so forget it if you’re in a rush… But these handy caddies are such a perfect solution to that issue – they’re made of stainless steel with high-temp resistant silicone so that you don’t have to worry about putting your still hot curling iron away and rushing out the door.

hanging jewelry organizer

5) Hanging Jewelry Organizer. This would have been a complete life-saver. Not only would it have cleared off space on my already too-packed dresser, but it would have kept my jewelry organized, AND safely out of sight, nestled in with all my actual dresses and shirts.

vornado fan

6) A Vornado “Air Circulator” (Fan). My apartmentmate got one of the really large size Vornados about two years ago, and let me tell you, these guys are worth the price tag. They move more air than any fan I’ve seen that’s twice their size. And they’re quiet too. One of the medium sizes would have been so perfect for our dorm rooms, which because of their size often got stuffy, even when the air conditioning was on (when we had air conditioning – not all dorms do). All we had was this dinky little desk fan, which frankly didn’t do anything unless you were sitting with it pointed directly in your face. These Vornado fans are designed to move all the air in the room – making it feel a bunch cooler, without having to dry your eyes out by having wind pointed directly at them.


7) Huggable Hangers. These things are every clotheshorse’s dream. I made the switch to these too late to be of any use in a dorm, but the amount of clothes you can fit into even the tiniest closet with these is pretty astounding. They come with hanging loops so you can cascade hangers, and clips that can turn them into skirt hangers. And bonus – now they come in different colors!

Now, the original Joy Mangano hangers are, admittedly, a bit pricey for a whole closet’s worth. And while I think it was totally worth it (In my experience, they’re much sturdier than the non-name brand ones), it might be a bit much to spend for college – so luckily, in the years since these debuted, there are TONS of cheaper imitations out there and you can get slimline felt hangers anywhere from TJ MAXX to Walmart.

over the door purse storage

8) And last we have these over-the-door purse racks. This is the only item on this list that I actually DID have in college, although only for the last year when me and my roommate were in an apartment. But having used them then, I can attest to how amazingly handy they would have been in our tiny dorm, particularly since both me and my roomie were purse junkies. These are basically canvas strips that have hooks on them, and they’re fully adjustable, so they can fit on your dorm door, OR the door of your wardrobe.

Any suggestions for stuff to add to the list? What did YOU find most handy as a dorming student? Do share in the comments!

[Clicking on the pictures should take you to the source – and the place you can buy these things. This is not a sponsored post, I am not affiliated with any of these companies or websites – they just happen to make products I love.]

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