CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

The 9 things your dorm room needs

Everything you need to make your room the best on the floor.

Sarah Mitroff Managing Editor
Sarah Mitroff is a Managing Editor for CNET, overseeing our health, fitness and wellness section. Throughout her career, she's written about mobile tech, consumer tech, business and startups for Wired, MacWorld, PCWorld, and VentureBeat.
Expertise Tech, Health, Lifestyle
Sarah Mitroff
3 min read
Dorm Room with Storage Bed and Desks
Getty Images

Heading off to college? You already know you need twin XL sheets, a shower caddy and your laptop.

There are a few more things you should add to your shopping list. Make your dorm room smart, clean and comfortable with these nine items.


Instant Pot

Want to make your own meals without access to a real kitchen? Enter the Instant Pot. This multitasking wonder can make it all. Rice? Check. Soup? Definitely. Dessert? Yep.

Learn more about why you should buy an Instant Pot, and check out our list of favorite Instant Pot recipes for inspiration.

Josh Miller

Mini fridge

A mini fridge has been a dorm room must for decades, and for good reason. It allows you to buy perishables like yogurt and milk and keep cold drinks close by for late-night studying.

Toaster oven or microwave

Are you more into making toast and cooking frozen pizza, or microwaving frozen dinners and making mug cake? Your answer will help you decide which appliance to bring to your dorm.

Toaster ovens are arguably more versatile because you can bake in them, but microwaves are better for steaming vegetables and faster for heating leftovers.

If you feel like you just can't live without a microwave, read our guide on how to survive without one.


Compact vacuum

Look, don't let your dorm room become gross like your neighbor's. Get a compact vacuum cleaner to keep the floors clean and handle small messes. A simple stick model will work just fine for a dorm.

We suggest the Hoover Linx Stick Vacuum.

Hoover Platinum Collection LiNX Cordless Stick Vacuum

The Hoover Linx Stick Vacuum

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Basic cleaning supplies

Just because you don't have to clean the communal bathrooms doesn't mean you shouldn't have cleaning supplies for your own space.

You don't need much. Antibacterial wipes and dusting cloths can go a long way to keeping your room clean. For laundry days, you can save money with DIY dryer sheets.


Smart speaker

An Amazon Echo or Google Home should be on your shopping list. Either of these smart speakers can act as an alarm clock, stream music, play games, answer any homework question, remind you to do laundry and so much more.

To save space, check out the Echo Dot or Google Home Mini .

Watch this: Tips on picking out the perfect smart speaker

Streaming stick

If you're bringing a TV to college, make sure to bring a streaming stick, too. The Amazon Fire TV, Roku Streaming Stick and others will let you stream Netflix, Hulu , HBO, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and more. Perfect for movie nights.

Best smart home tech for your dorm

See all photos



Distract your eye from those bland dorm walls with art that's better than those generic posters at the bookstore. For students on a budget (basically all students), we've rounded up 7 places to buy inexpensive artwork and the frames for it.

Command hooks

Now that you have artwork, you have to frame it. Avoid putting holes in your walls at all costs if you want to get your deposit back.

Instead, use Command Hooks. They come in many different varieties and are essential for dorm rooms and apartments.

Need more reasons?

12 things you should be doing with Command Hooks

See all photos

Find out why Amazon's Alexa is going to college.

CNET's Back to School Guide has everything you need to start the school year.