College Dorm Tips and Purchases

@123Mom123 brought up the current Temper-pedic mattress topper sale in the Parent of 2022 grad thread, and it made me think a thread on tips and purchases for dorm rooms might be a good idea at this time of year.

I would love to hear about other people’s tips, purchases and tricks!

We swear by the IKEA FRAKTA bags for move in. They are capacious, CHEAP and travel extremely well - makes loading the car up so easy. They fold up into almost nothing so they take up very little room in the dorm. D20 also uses one for a laundry bag during the school year.

We splurged on a mini-fridge cart this year for D20’s dorm room, to give her more storage. Sturdy and attractive, very easy to build. The only issue with this is it goes in and out of stock often, so if you think your child would like this, pick it up when you see it in stock.

Also - anything that was a waste to buy, or took up too much room - add those tips as well!


Temper-pedic topper, fridge cart, step stool, stick vac, Keurig, clip on fan and light.

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Those IKEA bags are amazing.

And…buy extra.

I bought like 6 I think and we could have used more but S was a last minute packer. So we had a combination of suitcases and regular boxes but the IKEA bags were by far the most useful. They carry a ton.


Brita pitcher

Brita Stream Rapids Water Filter Pitcher, Carbon, Large 10 Cup, 1 Count

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We got the samsonite tote a ton based on recommendations here and they were great.

Big hits
A clip on fan
Electric tea kettle
Folding eating tables
Swifter mop
Dish drying mat/rack
Magic bullet for smoothies
Picnic blanket

Things he says are a waste
Comforter set, he would rather have just sheets and light blanket.

The Ikea bags are easy to double for added strength and work great for checked luggage and store super easy in the dorm. Also, they are nice to bring back a set at Christmas/holidays to hall back the newly required loot. :slight_smile:

We used a combo of those and the Samsonite Tote a Ton - Tote a Ton worked great and both of these options survived flights as checked bags and will now be used for their summer storage items.

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The best thing we bought for our kid was a cushion to put on the wooden desk chair. That was well appreciated (and a big afterthought at BBB).

Waste of money…the box of OTC medicines, bandaids, etc. The first kid never used them at all…brought them home and we just sent with the second kid (checked for expiration dates). Second kid didn’t use them either…so we tossed it all at move out day.

Another waste of money…laptop lock for the desk. Never even opened.

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Question: do most 1st Year students coordinate dorm bedding? I’ve got a daughter (I’m sure it’s more common than for the guys).

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Seemed like a majority of the girls did.

Door stop. Essential.


OMG, don’t encourage them to bring more stuff to school by having more than 6 bags!

One of my kids was always a minimalist and bought 5 rubbermaid tubs to store her stuff for summer, but ended up only using 3.

My other daughter was a packrat that took everything she owned and then some to college her first year. Second year down to 3 duffels, and one of those was hockey equipment. By the end she was down to one duffel.

My sons advice. Have your kid put everything they think they want to take to their college dorm room in one room in your house (didn’t we all use the living room for that?). Then take only half of what is there. He says, the kid will use less than half of what they take.

He says this was true for any gender of his friends.

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Door stop but only for when you are IN your room. Otherwise…close and lock the door.

As a practical guide, including with respect to what not to bring, these lists may be helpful: Guide - What to Bring - Hamilton College.

Oh, my kids didn’t iron at home, didn’t iron at college, still don’t iron. Also wouldn’t have used most of the things on the Hamilton list.

I iron all the time, almost every day.

That’s a funny list.

YES to surge protector/power strip. School supplies, towels, bed linens, toiletries.

NO to alarm clock, dictionary, address book/calendar. Every kid I know uses their phone for all of these things. Make sure there are chargers with long cables.

Computer is listed as “optional”. While there are computers for student use in many places, I just don’t think this is any longer optional.

TV with coaxial cable? Really? The students I know stream on their computers.

Rule of thumb - If you are driving and can’t fit everything in your car, it won’t fit in the dorm room. ; )

The advice to put everything in a small room in the house and divide it in half, is sound!

Also note that many schools limit small appliances with heating elements so before bringing irons, electric kettles, etc…check with the school’s dorm policy.


Shower Shoes. Especially if your child’s dorm has communal bathroom showers.

D20 went with Croc brand flip flops: sturdy, good tread for traction in wet environs, dry out super quickly. They also go on sale repeatedly during the year, we waited until they were on sale to purchase.

They aren’t the cutest shoes ever but she really doesn’t like the Adidas type slides so many wear as an alternative. Which again, go on sale repeatedly, usually 30% off.

Gotta love the service academies. This was it for our son, not one thing more:

And, he checked everything off the list in one trip to Walmart. Of course, he could have shown up with just the shirt on his back, but even the academy suggested that Army-issue socks and underwear might not be ideal. As for his barracks (dorm) room, everything was identical for each cadet and firmly bolted to the floor or wall. No extras. Not a ceramic pineapple in sight.

No time for shoes or other niceties, just ten heads per wall, so you can shower with 40 of your closest friends each morning.

Dang our kid. We totally missed out on the normal college experience, but I continue to hang here and live vicariously through the rest of you.


Is your D’s fridge a small one like that? I was wondering about the bigger 3.2cu size one but not sure if that is too much. I think my D22’s school has good food so it will mainly be for snacks and drinks and she mainly drinks water.

For a fridge - both of my daughter’s schools did not allow the 3.2 size - presume due to old electrical in the dorms ? All specs for electrical items.communicated with dorm assignments. One child could have a microwave only if it was the combo
unit with a fridge and the other child was not allowed a microwave at all.