How to Organize Your Dorm Room Plus 50 Dorm Room Essentials

The time has come for college-aged students to transition from the nest and into a dorm room of their own. Dorms are the perfect stepping stone between living at home with you and renting an apartment.

Dorm rooms come in all shapes and sizes.

My son has lived in a spacious dorm room with nice natural light and also one that looked like a prison cell. His university has a dorm lottery and you get what you get. We make the most of any dorm assignment by making sure that he has the dorm essentials.

Update: My son has now graduated college and is living in a pint-sized NYC apartment that is about the same size as his dorm room, so these tips and essentials are continuing to come in handy after college.

Organizing a dorm room can be a daunting task, especially when you're dealing with limited space. However, with the right mindset and some helpful tips, you can turn a tiny dorm room into a cozy and functional living space. This article is packed with practical advice on how to organize your dorm room and a list of essential items that will make your college life easier.


Maximizing your space is one of the most important things to remember when organizing your dorm room. You can achieve this by using multi-purpose furniture, such as a bed with built-in drawers or a desk that doubles as a nightstand. Another useful tip is to think vertically and use wall space for storage. You can install shelves or hanging organizers to keep your belongings off the floor and create more room to move around.


In addition to organizing your dorm space, we will also consider what items you'll need to make your college life comfortable and convenient. From bedding to desk supplies, we've compiled a list of 50 essential items that every college student should have in their dorm room. Whether you're a freshman or a senior, these items will help you stay organized, focused, and ready to tackle any challenge that comes your way.

All About Tidy may earn a commission through these independently curated links, at no expense to you.

Understanding the Space

Understanding the limited space available is crucial when organizing a college dorm room. Most college dorm rooms are small, and students often have to share them with one or more roommates. Therefore, maximizing floor space and vertical space is essential.


One way to make the most of the limited space is to think vertically. Use tall organization systems such as stacking drawers, cubes, or foldable bookshelves to maximize the available square footage.


Multi-use furniture is also an excellent option for small dorm rooms. For example, storage ottomans or trunks can provide seating that doubles as hidden storage.


Another essential aspect of organizing a dorm room is the closet. Most dorm rooms have a small closet, so making the most of the space available is important. Utilize closet organizers, such as hanging organizers, to maximize the vertical space. Folding clothes and using space-saving hangers can also help make the most of the limited space.


In addition to the closet, extra storage space can be created by using under-bed storage containers or over-the-door organizers. These are excellent options for storing items such as shoes, towels, and toiletries.


Related: Maximize Wall Space with Pegboard Organization

Maximize Bed Space

When organizing a dorm room, maximizing bed space is key. With limited floor space, utilizing the area around the bed is a great way to create more storage options. Here are some ways to make the most of your bed space:

Utilizing Under Bed Storage

One of the easiest ways to maximize bed space is by using under-bed storage. Bed risers are a great option to lift the bed off the ground and create more space underneath. This is perfect for storing items such as shoes, clothes, and extra bedding. Bed storage containers can also be used to keep items organized and out of sight.

Lofted Beds and Bed Risers

For even more space, consider lofting your bed. Check with your dorm RA to make sure your college allows for bed lofting. If you decide to loft, install safety rails to prevent accidental injury. This allows for more floor space and creates a cozy nook underneath for a desk or seating area. Bed risers can also create a similar effect without lofting the bed all the way up. This is a great option for those who want more storage space but still want to keep their bed at a comfortable height.

Bedside Storage Options

Another way to maximize bed space is by using bedside storage options. Bed shelves can be attached to the side of the bed frame to hold items such as a phone, book, or water bottle. Bedside caddies can also be used to keep items organized and easily accessible.


When shopping for these items, Amazon has a great selection of bed storage options that can be quickly shipped to any address. They offer bed risers, under-bed storage containers, and bed shelves. They also have a variety of bedside caddies to choose from.


Maximizing bed space is a great way to create more storage options in a dorm room. Whether using under-bed storage, lofting the bed, or using bedside storage options, there are many ways to make the most of this space.

Dorm Closet Organization

Keeping a dorm room organized can be a challenge, especially when it comes to closet space. But with the right tools and strategies, it's possible to maximize your closet space and keep your clothes and accessories tidy. Here are some tips for closet organization:

Hangers and Hooks

Investing in quality hangers is one of the easiest ways to organize your closet. Velvet hangers are a popular choice for dorm rooms because they are slim and non-slip, so they take up less space and prevent clothes from slipping off. Command hooks and door hooks are also great for hanging bags, hats, and other accessories.

Related: Proven Ways to Organize Workout Clothes

Shoe Organizers

Shoes can take up a lot of space in a closet, but a shoe organizer can help keep them organized and out of the way. Over-the-door shoe organizers are a popular choice for dorm rooms because they don't take up any floor space. Another option is a shoe rack that can be placed on the closet floor. If you are a sneaker head, drop front shoe boxes can double as a bedside table and keep your kicks fresh.

Related: 10 Best Drop Front Shoe Boxes

Extra Closet Space

If you need extra closet space, you can do a few things. A closet rod extender can be used to add an extra rod to your closet, which doubles the amount of hanging space. Hanging jewelry organizers can also be used to store jewelry and other small accessories, freeing up space in drawers.


Organizing a dorm room closet requires creativity and planning, but with the right tools and strategies, it can be done. Using hangers and hooks, shoe organizers, and other space-saving solutions, you can maximize your closet space and keep your clothes and accessories organized and tidy.


Related: 15 Clever Ways to Organize Underwear Without Using Drawers

Additional Clothes Storage

Dorm closets are very small. Hanging space is at a premium and everything else must be folded. Drawer space is limited, too, so we created our own clothes storage space. We used these closet organizer storage boxes to neatly store clothes that won't fit in the closet or drawer. We also used these to store clothes that are out of season. When my son arrived at school in August, this storage system contained winter clothes. Once the cool weather hit, he switched the clothes. 

Desk and Study Space

When organizing a dorm room, the desk and study area are essential. This is where students will spend most of their time studying, completing assignments, and working on projects. Here are a few tips to help students organize their desks and study area:

Organizing School Supplies

One of the most important things to remember when organizing a desk and study area is to keep school supplies organized and within reach. A desk organizer can be a great investment for students who need to keep pens, pencils, highlighters, and other supplies within easy reach. A to-do list can help students stay on top of assignments and deadlines.

Maximizing Desk Space

Making the most of their desk space is crucial for students short on space. A desk with drawers can provide additional storage space for textbooks, notebooks, and other supplies. Additionally, students can use vertical space to their advantage by using a bookshelf or wall-mounted shelves to store textbooks and other materials.

Desk Organizers

Dorm desks are fairly small so it is important to maximize space. These desk drawer storage bins work great for desk drawers, especially the front drawer that tends to be a junk drawer. The expandable compartments sort everything and remind you not to store junk in the drawer. 

Technology and Charging Stations

In today's digital age, a charging station for electronic devices is necessary. USB ports can charge smartphones, laptops, and other devices. Additionally, an alarm clock can be a helpful addition to a desk and study area, ensuring that students wake up on time and are ready to tackle the day's assignments.


Organizing a desk and study area is essential for students who want to succeed in college. By keeping school supplies organized, making the most of desk space, and having a charging station for electronic devices, students can create a space conducive to studying and learning.

For the limited space on the desktop, my son used this super cool vertical charging station. It was the tidy way to make sure he had enough plugs for everything and also gave him a convenient place to charge his phone. Since it is a vertical tower, it doesn't use much desktop space. 

Protective Electronics Storage Bag

College students have laptops, tablets, smartphones, gaming devices, tons of cords, and even more chargers. Keeping them organized and safe from harm or theft is important. My son kept all of his electronics safely contained in this storage bag. It prevented him from losing cords and chargers and kept everything safe in his football duffle bag when he was on the go.

Dorm Storage Solutions

When it comes to organizing a dorm room, storage is key. With limited space, it's important to make the most of every inch. Several storage solutions can help maximize space and keep things organized.

Drawer and Shelf Organizers

Drawer and shelf organizers are a great way to keep clothes, accessories, and other items in their place. Amazon has a wide variety of drawer organizers, from adjustable dividers to compartmentalized trays. These organizers can help keep socks, underwear, and other small items neatly organized. Shelf organizers can also be used to keep books, binders, and other items in order.

Rolling Carts and Storage Solutions

Rolling carts and storage bins are another great storage solution for dorm rooms. These can be used to store everything from snacks to school supplies. Amazon has a variety of rolling carts in different sizes and colors. These carts can store toiletries, snacks, and other items. Storage bins are also great for storing clothes, shoes, and other items. Plastic drawers and storage cubes can also keep things organized and easily accessible.

Related: 14 Best 3-Tier Rolling Carts for Storage and Organization

Multi-Purpose Storage Solutions

Multi-purpose storage solutions are a great way to maximize limited space. A storage ottoman, for example, can be used as a seat, a footrest, and a storage container.


Shoe racks can also be used to store shoes and other items.


Storage compartments can be used to keep jewelry, makeup, and other small items organized.



There are many storage solutions available for dorm rooms. Students can maximize space and keep their dorm rooms organized by using drawer and shelf organizers, rolling carts and storage bins, and multi-purpose storage solutions.

Additional Essential Dorm Room Items

When it comes to dorm room essentials, there are a few items that every student should have. This section will cover the essential items that every college student should have in their dorm room, including hygiene and personal care items, laundry essentials, and kitchen and food storage.

Hygiene and Personal Care items

Hygiene and personal care items are essential for any college student living in a dorm room. Here are a few items that every student should have:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body wash or soap
  • Deodorant
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Face wash and moisturizer
  • Hand sanitizer
  • First aid kit

It's also a good idea to bring extra toiletries, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and extra towels and blankets.

Hanging Toiletry Bag

Most dorms do not have private bathrooms, so your student will likely be sharing a bathroom with at least one other person. A hanging toiletry bag is a must. We like this one because it is large and has lots of compartments. It holds all of the essentials and is easy to pack back up and store once they are done in the bathroom. He used a plastic caddy at first, but it was messy and when he came home for the weekend, he had to pack everything into a toiletry bag anyway, so he decided on this.

Better Safe Than Sorry

No one wants to think that their college student could be the victim of theft while at college, but it is a possibility if your child's belongings aren't protected. I purchased a small digital safe for my son to keep his wallet, cash, watches, and other valuables. Dorm rooms are crazy places and people are in and out of each other's rooms. We figured it was better to be safe than sorry. (See what I did there? lol)

Laundry Management

If you threw your laundry on the floor at home, you may continue to do that, but you will get pushback from your roommate or suite mates. You may be surprised by how neat you become when it is your own space. I love this slim line laundry hamper and bought it for my son's dorm. It rolled neatly in the space between his desk and the wall and I was pleasantly surprised that he used it. When it was laundry day, he wheeled it down the hall to the laundry room.

Laundry is part of life for college students, and having the right laundry essentials can make the task much easier. Here are a few items that every student should have:

It's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the laundry room on campus and any rules or regulations regarding laundry.


If laundry becomes a huge hassle, look for a local laundry service that can pick up, launder, and drop off once a week.

Kitchen and Food Storage

Although your child will have a meal plan, they will not want to go to the food court every time they want a snack. Plus, university cafeterias are not open 24/7, but writing papers and cramming for exams happens at any time- day or night.

Having a few essential kitchen and food storage items can be helpful. Here are a few items that every student should have:

I LOVE this set of canisters for my son's late-night snacking. Dorms tend to have the occasional insect problem if food is not contained properly. These canisters kept bugs at bay while keeping snacks fresh and neatly stacked.

Related: 23 Best Dorm Refrigerators for College Students

Cleaning Storage

I have heard that some universities have a cleaning service, but my son's did not. I got him this wall mounted mop and broom holder so that cleaning supplies were stowed. He had a Swiffer, a broom with dustpan, and a duster wand secured by the latches. On the hooks, he had a couple of bottles of cleaning solutions. It worked perfectly because it hung on the back of the door where it was out of the way.

Dorm Room Air Quality

If your new college is in a different region, you may not be comfortable in the new climate. For example, if you are accustomed to a humid climate, arid air may not feel comfortable to you. On the other hand, if you are from the desert, you may not enjoy humidity in the air. 

Many dorms are very old buildings and may have issues with musty smells or mold. There are several variations of air quality in dorms, but thankfully, there are several options to manage your air quality and create a more comfortable space including:

Making Your Dorm Feel Like Home

Moving away from home and starting college can be an exciting yet daunting experience, especially for first-time freshmen. It's important to make your dorm room feel like a comfortable and welcoming space to relax and recharge after a long day of classes. Here are some tips on how to make your dorm room feel like home.

Decorating Your Dorm Space

One of the easiest ways to make your dorm room feel like home is by decorating it with your favorite items. Whether it's posters of your favorite band or pictures of your family and friends, adding personal touches to your room can make it feel more like your own space. Command Picture Hanging Strips are a great way to hang up your decorations without damaging the walls.


Another way to decorate your space is by adding some plants. Not only do plants add some life and color to your room, but they also help purify the air. Some low-maintenance plants that are perfect for dorm rooms include succulents, spider plants, and peace lilies.


Related: 20 Low Maintenance Houseplants Even You Can Keep Alive

Creating a Comfortable Environment

College life can be stressful, so creating a comfortable environment in your dorm room where you can relax and unwind is important. Investing in a comfortable mattress topper and pillows can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep.


A cozy throw blanket and soft lighting can also help create a relaxing atmosphere.


If you're sharing a dorm room with a roommate, it's important to establish boundaries and respect each other's space. Consider investing in noise-canceling headphones or a white noise machine to help block out any distractions.

Personalizing Your Dorm Room

Lastly, personalizing your room with your own style can make it feel more like home. Whether adding some colorful throw pillows or a funky area rug, incorporating your personal style into your room can make it feel more like a reflection of yourself. Don't be afraid to get creative and make your dorm room your own.


Making your dorm room feel like home is all about adding personal touches, creating a comfortable environment, and personalizing your space to reflect your own style. By following these tips, you can turn your dorm room into a cozy and welcoming space to relax and recharge during your college years.


Related: 21 Fun Storage Ideas to Display Your Funko Pop Collection

Final Tips and Tricks

Here are a few final tips and tricks that can help ensure success. This section will cover planning and purchasing, maintaining your organized space, and making the most of your dorm room.

Planning and Purchasing

Before diving into the organization process, it's important to take some time to plan and make strategic purchases. A professional organizer suggests that college-bound kids should start by assessing their needs and creating a list of essential items. This list should include items that will help maximize storage space, such as under-bed storage containers and over-the-door organizers.


Once the list is complete, it's time to start purchasing. When it comes to dorm room organization tips, the easiest ways to stay organized is to make sure everything has an ideal spot. This means investing in items like drawer dividers, closet organizers, and storage bins in different sizes to fit various items.

Maintaining Your Organized Dorm Space

Once everything is in its place, it's important to maintain an organized dorm room. One good idea is to set aside a few minutes daily to tidy up and return things in their designated spots. This will help prevent clutter from piling up and keep the space feeling clean and organized.


Another good option is to make sure everything is within easy reach. This means keeping frequently used items in a spot that's easily accessible, such as on a desk or in a bedside caddy. Hooks are also a good option for hanging bags, keys, and other items that need easy access.

Knowing that my son had everything to keep him organized and comfortable was one of the only consolations when I dropped him off at college for the first time. I still cried as I drove away, but I felt comforted that his needs were met. Warm wishes for that first time dorm drop off- I promise that it does get easier with time.

What are some must-have dorm room essentials for college students?

College students living in dorms should prioritize essentials such as bedding, towels, and toiletries. Other must-have items include a mini-fridge, microwave, and storage containers. A desk lamp, power strip, and surge protector will also be useful.

How can I maximize storage space in my dorm room?

To maximize storage space in a dorm room, consider using under-bed storage containers, over-the-door organizers, and stacking storage bins. Bed risers can also provide additional space for storage containers. Utilizing vertical space with shelves and hooks can also help create more storage.

What are some tech essentials for a college dorm room?

Tech essentials for a college dorm room include a laptop or tablet, a printer, and a phone charger. A portable Bluetooth speaker and noise-canceling headphones can also enhance the dorm experience. A surge protector is also necessary to protect electronics from power surges.

What is a good budget for dorm essentials?

The budget for dorm essentials can vary based on personal preferences and needs. However, a good starting point is around $500-$1000. This budget should cover essential items such as bedding, towels, toiletries, storage containers, and tech essentials.

How can I decorate my dorm room on a budget?

To decorate a dorm room on a budget, consider using removable wallpaper, string lights, and posters. DIY projects such as creating a photo wall or painting cork boards can also add a personal touch. Utilizing items from home such as throw pillows and blankets can also help save money.

What are some tips for keeping my dorm room organized and clutter-free?

To keep a dorm room organized and clutter-free, create a daily cleaning routine and stick to it. Utilize storage containers and organizers to keep items in their designated places. Avoid accumulating unnecessary items and regularly donate or sell items that are no longer needed. Finally, make use of vertical space and keep flat surfaces clear to avoid clutter accumulation.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published