The Best College Dorm Essentials

By Wirecutter Staff
By Wirecutter Staff

Updated

Jul 2022

Having a dorm room that feels more like a home than an uninspired dormitory can make a huge difference in helping you settle into your freshman year. That’s why we’ve spent more than 180 hours evaluating the best dorm bedding, appliances, and other essentials to ease the transition from childhood home to college.

This review covers gear for your dorm room only. If you’re interested in school supplies, such as pens and notebooks, please check out our review of the best school supplies.

Updates

We’ve added a few new picks to this guide, including a headlamp for nighttime reading and one of the coziest fleece throws we’ve tried.

FYI

Our mini-fridge pick, the Midea WHS-65LSS1, is out of stock in most places. If you can find it, we still recommend it. In the meantime, we also recommend the slightly larger (but more expensive) Midea WHS-160R.

Bed

Bed

Our Pick

Our favorite affordable cotton sheets are available in one size that will fit a dorm bed, and they come in an assortment of solids and prints. Don’t wait to buy them, though—they sell out fast.

Target’s Threshold 400 Thread Count Performance Sheet Set has been the budget pick in our guide to cotton sheets for years, and the Twin/Twin XL size should fit a dorm bed—we checked the measurements on a package at our local Target. These sheets just get softer with each wash, they keep their color, and over years of testing they’ve endured all the wear and tear we can think of to put them through. We don’t recommend spending a lot on dorm sheets because you’ll use them for only a year or two. But we do recommend getting 100% cotton sheets over jersey knit or microfiber, which are hot to sleep on and also shed harmful fibers when you wash them. And these are the best affordable, all-cotton sheets we’ve ever tried. They sell out very quickly in the dorm size, though—some years they’ve disappeared so fast we couldn’t recommend them, and we suggested the now-discontinued Heartland Homegrown sheets from Bed Bath & Beyond instead. So don’t wait to buy these. The colors tend to be more neutral and muted than other dorm sheets we’ve tried, but if you’re comfortable visiting a Target store in person, you can look at them up-close to see if you like them. We’ve also noticed a different mix of colors and patterns available in store than online. Target also offers a one-year return policy for these sheets if they don’t work out.

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