Dorm Essentials 101

Dorm Essentials 101

15 Dorm Organization and Storage Tips for a Great School Year

College drop-off day is a huge milestone. As a parent, for more than a decade, you’ve done school runs, packed lunches, checked homework. Now you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor: a kid in college and a university decal for your car window.

Inevitably, there’ll be a moment when you watch your child moving into their dorm and you ask yourself, Is this the same kid who used to stuff Cheerios™ up his nose? It is. But don’t worry; even though they’re taking a big step towards adulthood, they still need you to smooth the transition.

Barring a few weeks at summer camp, your kid has probably never had to live with complete strangers. Adjusting to life away from home and making new friends —all while maintaining academic excellence — can be challenging.

Empower your child with the gift of an organized dorm. Organizing your living space is associated with a decrease in stress and anxiety. According to experts, the brain registers clutter as unfinished business and floods the body with fight or flight hormones like cortisol. The stressful distraction of clutter is the last thing your child needs while learning to navigate college life.

Fret not —mDesign has the dorm organization ideas and storage products you need to help your favorite dorm-dweller succeed.


The Bed

Let’s cut to the chase: dorm beds are weird. In the majority of American universities, beds are twin-sized in width but king-sized in length. That’s because, about 40 years ago, college administrators switched to longer beds to accommodate taller students.

Consequently, dorm beds are a full five inches longer than regular twin beds —and regular twin bed sheets! Parents of upper classmen know this, but more than a few freshmen’s parents have been caught (ahem) short-sheeted.

Stock up on mDesign’s Twin XL Size Superfine Brushed Microfiber Sheet Sets. The extra-long sheets are super-soft, wrinkle-resistant and they come in a variety of fun colors that’ll make any college dorm room feel like home.

Once, you’ve made their bed one last time, make use of space under the bed. mDesign’s Under Bed Storage Organizer Bag is great for storing extra bed linens and off-season clothes, like the sweaters and jackets your undergrad will need once fall temperatures and football season kick in.

Close up of Navy Blue Bed Sheet and Pillow Case Set on Bed Charcoal Gray Fabric Zippered Storage Bag Containing Clothing and Blankets on Carpeted Floor Underneath Bed

The Desk

This is where your young scholar will write professor-dazzling papers and earn that Summa Cum Laude degree. An organized desk helps them reach that goal.

drawer organizer, like this one from mDesign, keeps supplies in place and ready to use.

Make sure things stay tidy on top of the desk with mDesign’s Plastic Office Storage Organizer Bins. The stackable design and clear construction maximize desk space and keep supplies orderly and in view.

Consider a rolling cart for storage, like mDesign’s 3 Tier Rolling Storage Cart. It extends your child’s study area when they’d rather read on the bed instead of at their desk. It can also double as a nightstand or mini-pantry.

Two Clear Storage Bins with Office Supplies Stacked on Wood Desktop near Journal and Lamp Black Metal Tiered Rolling Cart with Office Supplies Positioned Between Wooden Desk and Slim Fabric Storage Unit in Home Office

The Closet

We can safely say that whoever designed dorm closets has never met a 21st century young adult. The best approach is not to pack too much. But if your social butterfly already has outfits lined up for homecoming, dances, Rush Week, and the like, you’re going to need some help. Closet organization makes all the difference.

Double shelf space with mDesign’s Metal Closet Storage Shelves by creating two-level storage with these sturdy, versatile shelves.

Hanging organizers are a college student’s best friend. It’s like having an extra armoire or dresser without taking up that much space. This 7 Shelf Fabric Hanging Closet Storage Organizer from mDesign maximizes unused closet space and has three removable drawers for more discreet storage.

metal garment rack is a great way to store coats, jackets, and go-to clothing items. It has a convenient shelf for frequently-worn sneakers and shoes.

This wall mounted hanging accessory organizer keeps belts and ties or necklaces and bracelets neat. The basket tray holds watches, keys, sunglasses, and more. It’s easy to install and comes with mounting hardware. Just make sure you check with the dorm’s resident adviser to get the o.k. for drilling holes in the wall.

Fabric Closet Organizer Shelves Hanging from Closet Rod in White Closet to Hold Shoes and Sweaters Graphite Gray Metal Garment Rack in Living Room near Arm Chair with Hung Clothing and Shoes Storage

Check out this helpful mDesign blog post for more great college closet storage ideas, like turning closet doors into storage space and getting the most out of shoe racks, bedside pockets, and makeup organizers.


Sharing a bathroom in college will teach your child one thing: how lucky they were to have a mom who cleaned up after them! Whether bathrooms are en-suite or down the hall, these shower essentials are a must.

Invest in a sturdy pair of flipflops or waterproof slides. Health experts at the Center for Disease Control recommend wearing shoes in communal bathrooms at all times to protect feet from gnarly fungi and harmful bacteria.

Imagine walking down the hall in flipflops juggling shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shower gel, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a razor. Not the way to start the day, is it? A bathroom caddy makes it easy to transport and store personal care items. Be sure the caddy you choose is easy to clean and has drainage holes in the bottom to prevent mold and mildew.

For upper classmen living off-campus or those lucky enough to have a semi-private bathroom shared with your dorm suite-mates, don't forget about cleaning supplies like mDesign’s bowl brushes and small wastebaskets are perfect for smaller spaces and tuck nicely into the corner or next to a sink or toilet.

Navy Blue Plastic Storage Tote Caddy with Carrying Handle on Shelf Organizing Bath and Shower Supplies Navy Blue Plastic Trash Can and Toilet Cleaning Bowl Brush with Natural Bamboo Accents on Tiled Bathroom Floor Near Toilet


Every college student knows when to do laundry: when they run out of underwear! Hopefully, these fun and functional laundry bags and hampers will inspire your child to visit the laundromat more often.

This Folding Fabric Drawstring Laundry Hamper comes with a reminder to separate lights and darks. Each section holds a load of laundry and folds up when not in use.

This lightweight laundry bag has two strong handles built right in, making trips to the laundry room a breeze.

This slim laundry hamper features a removable drawstring mesh bag with a built-in handle, so you have a hand free to carry quarters and detergent.

For drying delicates or other clothing that needs to skip the dryer, mDesign’s Over Door Fold Out Drying Rack’s two shelves and drying rods provide ample drying space and folds flat for easy, compact storage.

Young Adult Male in Green Shirt Opening Closet Door with White Mesh Landry Hamper Bag Held over Shoulder Charcoal Gray Fabric Collapsible Fabric Laundry Hamper Basket with Open Lid Containing Dirty Clothes Next to Washing Machine

As you drive off campus and head back home, you can feel a sense of peace knowing your child is off to a great start. Now about those care packages…

Check out our full Back to College blog series for more inspiration and a printable college essentials checklist as you prepare to head back to campus.

Lisa Langford is a Senior Copywriter at mDesign

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Posted: Jun 22, 2021