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Dorm Shopping Guide: The 10 Things that You Need

July 9, 2012

Drexel Dorm Room, Myers

Buying things for your dorm room can sometimes be a confusing process.  Between what schools recommend you buy, what retailers tell you you need, and your own personal likes and dislikes, shopping for your dorm room can quickly escalate into an overwhelming situation.  Rather than automatically surrendering and filling in the card in the mail your school sent for a pre-made dorm kit (although these dorm kits are a great idea if you don’t feel like the hassle of shopping!) check out the shopping list below for some essential picks to make your move-in easy.

1. Twin XL Sheets and Pillows

Twin XL sheets and pillows are the most essential items on this list for a comfortable stay in your dorm room.  Most dorm beds are Twin XL size; Twin XL measures approximately five inches longer than regular Twin mattresses, and therefore regular twin sheets (especially fitted sheets!) will not fit the mattress.  Be sure to look closely at any sheet sets you’re considering to make sure that they are available in this length.  Many stores which specialize in dorm shopping, like Target and Bed Bath and Beyond, group their Twin XL sheet sets together to make browsing easy.  Online/Catalogue retailer PBTeen also has an extensive selection of Twin XL sheet sets on their website and in their catalogue under the PBDorm Section.  Most schools do not provide pillows, either, so be sure to pick up a few while you’re out!

Related items for your bed that you may want to consider are a mattress pad and  a mattress topper.  While these items are not essential for living, they could wind up being essential for comfort.  Dorm room mattresses are pretty basic, and therefore do not have much of a cushion top to them.  A mattress pad can greatly improve your comfort (just make sure to pick up the Twin XL size!)  A mattress topper (usually made out of foam) can further increase your comfort level.  Since these rest on top of the mattress, don’t sweat it if you already own one in a Twin size rather than Twin XL that you would like to bring or if you cannot find a Twin XL size one in a store – unless you are over 75 inches tall (the length of a regular twin mattress,) you wont notice the difference.

2. A Duster

A duster can be an essential item on move-in day.  Most schools have vacuums which you can sign out during the year; however, on move-in day, everyone is trying to rent the limited number of vacuums at the same time which can become a chaotic hassle to participate in.  Your room will most likely be a bit dusty due to the summer’s inactivity, so you will want to clean it before you set up all of your stuff.  I recommend either the classic Swiffer Duster or the Lysol Clean Flip.  They are similar products in that they both have a long handle construction where you attach either dry or wet disposable cloths to the end.  This way you can clean off your room as soon as you move-in without the hassle of the vacuum rental.  Also, you will find it useful to have cleaning products on hand throughout the year!

3. Hanging Strips

Hanging strips, (such as Command Strips,) are necessary to bring if you want to decorate your room.  Most schools do not allow you to make any holes in the walls, so self-adhesive strips are necessary for hanging posters.  Self-adhesive hooks are also available.  I recommend picking up a few of those so that you can hang up your jackets.

4. Trash Can

Most schools do not provide trashcans in dorm rooms so be sure to pick one up.  Some have rules on the trashcan (only wire, only plastic, under a certain size,) but if your school does not have any rules regarding trashcans, I recommend a size that would comfortably fit under your desk so that you have the option of stashing it away if your floor space is tight.

5. Mirror

Like trash cans, most schools do not provide a full length mirror in dorm rooms.  If you would like a mirror, look for a lightweight one that can be held with hanging strips rather than metal hardware.  Many stores group these mirrors with the other dorm products they sell to make shopping easy.

6. Toiletries Holder

A shower caddy and toiletries holder will be essential for living in your dorm.  I recommend one made of plastic (for your shower products, at least) since many dorm showers are very small and there will be no way for you to bring it in the shower without it getting soaking wet; also the plastic ones are quite durable so you will not have to worry about it breaking.

If you have many extra non-shower products (makeup, hairdryer, etc.) I recommend getting some plastic bins or a small plastic cart with drawers to hold these items.

7. Fan

Check to see if your dorm has air conditioning; if it does not, you will need to buy a fan.  Consider buying a window fan as this saves on floor space in your room.

8. Desk organizer and supplies

Office supplies are essential to bring with you to school.  An often overlooked sidekick of office supplies? A desk organizer.  Bring something to contain your pens and something to stash loose papers in so that your desk is always tidy and your final papers don’t end up on the floor.

9. Laundry Hamper

A laundry hamper is an essential item for both your organization and your relationship with your roommate, (no one likes laundry all over the floor.)You should bring some form of laundry hamper to your room on move-in day: whether it be a plastic crate, a pop-up hamper, or a traditional hamper, you will be thankful for it later on, and your roommate will be thankful for it too.

10. Utensils/ Glasses/Plates

Be sure to bring a few utensils, some glasses and a few plates to your dorm room.  While you will not be cooking a lot of meals, they will be useful for the times when you bring food back to your room or when you make food in the microwave.

Be sure to double check with your school regarding their recommendations before you go shopping (many schools have very specific rules!)  Also, stay on the lookout over the summer for dorm-related mail from your school regarding mini-fridge and microwave rentals if your dorm provides that option, as well as mail regarding move-in procedures.

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