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20 Dorm Room Essentials For Under $15

Updated on September 9, 2013

Going away to university or college can be an exciting experience, made even more so by the number of goodies you get to purchase. But shopping for a dorm room can get expensive very quickly, especially if you haven't done any research beforehand.

I've scoured the web and found 20 of the top dorm room essentials at prices of $15 or less. While not all of these are mandatory for every student, they're nice to have on hand and should fit into any budget.


1) Portable flashlight

For late night trips to the college food court or the occasional power outage, it's important to have a flashlight on hand. This hand-crank and solar-powered flashlight doesn't need batteries to operate, and it's even waterproof.


2) Electric kettle

The electric kettle is an essential kitchen appliance for any college student. You'll need one for making tea, instant coffee, and a quick bowl of oatmeal on early mornings. And they're also handy for making another cheap and easy dorm room staple: ramen noodles.


3) Portable clothes rack

The MULIG clothes rack from Ikea is perfect for air-drying laundry or storing large bulky items that won't fit in your dorm room closet, like winter coats.


4) Wooden hangers

Whether you have a clothes rack or a closet, you'll need some hangers. These wooden hangers are sturdier than standard plastic ones and will help your clothes keep their shape.


5) Alarm clock

Sure, you could use your smartphone to wake you up in the mornings. But having a portable alarm clock in your dorm room adds a more authentic touch. This clock from MiniInTheBox is cute, colorful and does more than simply tell the time: it also has a built-in calendar and thermometer.


6) Ear plugs

15 dollars might seem like a lot to spend on ear plugs. But during those late-night ragers, you'll be glad you shelled out the extra cash. These super plush, super effective plugs from Hearos will block out the loudest dorm parties and help you preserve your sanity.


7) Hand warmers

For those cold, long walks to early morning lecture, slip a couple of hand warmers into your coat pockets and enjoy the heavenly warmth. These warmers from Canadian Tire last up to seven hours and come with an exchange warranty.


8) Cork board

A bulletin board is essential for hanging photographs, assignment instructions, and motivational quotes. Check out this unique dark cork board from specialty shop Board Dues. It's actually 4 separate tiles you can arrange into any shape you want.


9) Thumbtacks

What's a bulletin board without some decorative thumbtacks? These gorgeous dessert-themed tacks from Etsy will have you salivating every time you look at them.


10) Juice glasses

These sturdy glasses from Crate & Barrel can be used for juice, water, or whatever other beverage you happen to have on hand. They hold a respectable 14 oz and are dishwasher safe, in case your dorm happens to have a fully-functional kitchen.


11) Mouse pad

If you're looking to add a more personal touch to your dorm room, check out a customizable mouse pad. Zazzle has tons of great options, many for under $15.


12) USB key

And speaking of computer supplies, a USB key is an absolute essential for any college freshman. Here's a 16GB flash drive from Tiger Direct that will easily store your term papers for an entire semester.


13) Desk lamp

Some dorm rooms are already equipped with desk lamps, but it's a nice personal touch to bring your own. The JANSJÖ from Ikea has an LED light and is thin and pliable. It also comes in both black and white, so you can easily match it to your dorm room décor.


14) Shower flip flops

For communal dorm showers, reusable flip-flops are a must. These sandals from Old Navy are cheap, yet reliable, and come in lots of funky colors for both men and women.


15) Magic Eraser

For scuffs on your dorm room walls or smudges on furniture, pick up a few Magic Erasers. They're easy to use (just add water) and there's two in a pack, meaning they'll last you a long time.


16) Utensil set

When you're shopping for dorm rooms, outdoor supply stores can be a great place to look. REI has a convenient multi-utensil tool (fork, knife, and spoon) for under $10-- perfect for those late night meals in residence.


17) Wastebasket

Most dorm rooms will come already equipped with a wastebasket, but this one from Office Depot is so much nicer. With a closeable lid and stainless steel finish, it'll add class and functionality to any space.


18) Portable shower caddy

You may be bummed that you can't leave your shampoo in the dorm bathroom like you would at home. But these portable shower caddies from Dorm Co will help you store all of your hygiene products in one place, making it easier to shower in a communal bathroom.


19) Laundry hamper

On laundry day, you'll need a hamper that is both sturdy and flexible. This basket from Sierra Trading Post is both collapsible and made of fabric with odor-controlling enzymes. It's a neutral brown color so it should blend in well with the rest of your dorm room.


20) Storage bins

Dorm rooms come equipped with dressers, but you'll likely need more storage space for odds and ends. These stackable boxes from Home Depot are great because they have a clear front panel, making it easy to see what you've stored. They also come in two colors: blue and turquoise.


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