This story is part of, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.
Dorm life can be a lot to handle for incoming college students. From sharing a new space with roommates, to laundry and the general hazards of “adulting,” it can be a lot to navigate. With this new setting comes a need forand dorm room essentials. It also often comes with .
The right goods at the right price can set a dorm-dweller up for success. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best Amazon picks for the job. Some of these items are necessary — a laundry hamper and a shower caddy, for instance. But some are creature comforts, like aor a dorm smart speaker. We’ve got recommendations for decor (a washable rug! A USB lamp!) as well as smart basics including under-bed storage and noise-canceling headphones. Take a look and score some dorm essentials for cheap on Amazon. An online shopping spree could provide a first lesson on budgeting for the college student.
Want even more options? CNET has partnered with Amazon to select more than 60 other dorm room essentials that we recommend. The list is a mixture of products we’ve reviewed or personally tested, along with some promising household basics with high user ratings.
This hot AirPods Pro alternative will help students avoid the daily dorm racket with active noise cancellation technology. Bonus: A pair of JBL Live Pro 2 earbuds boasts a budget-friendly price. Read CNET’s guide to the best noise-canceling true wireless earbuds for 2022 for more info on our picks.
The shower caddy is a small but mighty addition to the dorm room shopping list. Students can stock it with their favorite products and haul it to and fro. (OK, just to the bathroom and back.) This one has plenty of room for shampoo, lotion and other toiletries. Bonus: Color combos include teal and orange, navy and mustard, or the more subdued solid apricot or gray.
A Bluetooth-enabled rechargeable record player that’s also portable? Perfect. Victrola’s Revolution Go record player is a great pick for college-bound kids. It’s compact enough for dorm life, and it can be set up anywhere with help from the removable carrying strap. No plugs necessary. Record collection not included.
An inconvenient fact about dorm beds: they are generally twin XL size, which means normal twin sheets won’t fit. This cotton-blend set conforms to dorm sizing, and as an added bonus, it comes in a trendy cow print! Other prints, including plain gray and blue butterfly, are also available. The three-piece set includes a fitted sheet, flat sheet and pillowcase.
A pair of shower sandals is a staple of dorm living. This Reef pair goes above and beyond — they’ve got traction to prevent slipping and they’re nice enough to wear outside the bathroom! Quality construction means your Water Court sandals will last beyond dorm life. Available in black, olive, pink and white on Amazon.
Even a 2×3-foot rug can work wonders in a dorm room, both for decor and comfort. Ruggable’s fun rainbow prints liven up even drab spaces. And even better, Ruggable rugs are stain- and water-resistant and can be washed in any laundry facility. Spills? No problem. Peel the top layer from the rug pad and just toss it in the wash.
This popular Amazon desk lamp has a modern look and a very useful design. It’s adjustable and it can charge devices when outlets are in short supply — perfect for a dorm desk. Bonus: A dual-USB port and LED light bulb are included. Available in black and white with a wood accent.
Spare future roommates from stumbling on your dirty socks! A clothes hamper is a must-buy when it comes to dorm living because everyone needs to collect their laundry. This one is great because it comes with two removable bags — genius for rotating out laundry loads. The handles and lid are helpful, too.
This set from Amazon Basics contains everything needed to make up a dorm bed. Comforter, sheets, sham and pillowcase, conveniently sized in Twin XL. The coral medallion print is particularly nice, but if that’s not your style, there are 16 additional colors. Bonus: The set is Made in Green by Oeko-Tex, which means it meets environmental standards.
A tiny fridge, how convenient! College students will love keeping beverages, food and skincare cool in their own fridge. This one from Uber Appliance has a removable shelf and holds up to six cans or four bottles of water. It comes in red, silver or black and comes with power cords for a car or home.
This blanket has room for everyone! Big Blanket Co. makes huge blankets (100 square feet of blanket) so the whole crew can cozy up for movie night or picnics in the quad. Whatever the occasion, your college newbie will be ready for friends. Bonus: Despite its size, you can still toss this blanket in a standard washing machine.
Blueair makes a dorm-size air filter that removes 99.97% of harmful particles — a smart pandemic purchase. This Blue Pure 411 covers rooms up to 190 square feet (other models also available), filtering out odors, smoke, pollen, allergens, COVID-19 and other irritants. It even has an indicator light that shows air quality status.
Even if you have to raise your bed, maximizing dorm room space with under-bed storage is a great idea. This trio of drawers makes perfect use of that empty space. Each molded plastic drawer has a lid and slides out of the metal frame for convenient access. Also available in a two-drawer set.
Dorm mattresses are unbearably uncomfortable, and this mattress topper is exactly what dorm dwellers need to transform a sleeping experience. Two inches of memory foam add extra cushioning and provide pressure relief. Plus, cooling gel beads help regulate body temperature at night.
Be sure to buy a Twin XL since that’s the standard size mattress for most dorm rooms and residence halls.
College students need plenty of rest, which means a comfortable pillow (or two) is a must. Not only are these JollyVogue pillows budget-friendly, but they’re also incredibly fluffy, soft and supportive. A bonus is that they’re machine-washable too. CNET’s Dawnthea Price Lisco says, “After months of using these pillows, they’ve retained their fluffy shape and are still comfortable and comforting. I can’t recommend these pillows enough.”
While most campuses have been open for a while, Zoom and asynchronous classes haven’t completely gone away. While it’s great to be able to work from your bed or a couch, holding a computer on your lap for hours on end gets uncomfortable fast. Buying a laptop desk allows you to work from anywhere in your dorm.
Getting ready for a night out and need to see the whole fit? Having a full-length mirror eliminates the struggle that comes along with not having a bathroom of your own. A full-length mirror that hangs over your door is the best, most convenient way to test out different outfits and get ready for a night out.
Space is tight in most dorm rooms, and a night stand is a luxury only few are given. A storage caddy that hangs on the side of your bed allows you to use your laptop, read and snack before bed without the inconvenience of getting up and putting everything away. Now you can do it all without ever leaving your bed!
Outlets can be a scarcity in dorm rooms and there’s nothing worse than not keeping your phone nearby while it’s charging. Speaking from personal experience, having to sit near the nearest outlet while your phone is charging, rather than comfortably scrolling in bed, is awful. Long phone chargers fix the obstacles that lofted dorm beds and limited outlets raise.
Whether your roommate snores or your neighbors are late-night partiers, dorm life is loud. So if you don’t want to spend the night tossing and turning, a white noise machine can make all the difference in the world. The Homedics Sound Spa is our top pick for the best white noise machine overall — and for good reason: It’s inexpensive, portable and it plays six calming nature and sleep sounds.
Most dorms don’t have AC, which means they can get uncomfortably stuffy in the fall and spring. The solution? Vornado fans, which have a reputation for being powerful and reliable. This stylish table fan is small enough to stow away but big enough to circulate all the air in your room. Bonus points for the neat vintage vibe.
Dorm rooms are notoriously narrow, which is why vertical storage is so important. This affordable desktop organizer will maximize your space and help keep your desk neat and tidy. It’s easy to assemble, and it can be set up in varying shapes and lengths, in case you’d rather use it on a dresser or countertop. It comes in both black and white.
Pendleton’s towels are known for their quality — this one will outlast the college years and beyond. This 100% cotton towel is a generous 30×58-inch size and meets Made in Green by Oeko-Tex environmental standards. Plus, it just looks cool. Don’t let your roommate steal it! Coordinating sizes are also available.
No one likes a filthy living space. Between high foot traffic and late-night snacking, a dorm room can get gross quickly. This Black+Decker handheld vacuum is affordable, reliable and easier to store away than an upright vacuum. Plus, it comes with a pull-out crevice tool for hard-to-reach places and icky crumbs.
This story was originally published earlier and has been updated with additional picks.
More back-to-school recommendations
Find The Perfect Gift
AllUnder $10Under $20Under $50Under $100Under $250