I was that person Freshman year who got all the sweater cubbies and every shelving item you could think of. That was DUMB and a waste of all my money! You 100% will not have room for it and I even had apartment style dorms. I’m here to tell you about the items you will 100% use and that really helped me my Freshman year in a dorm and that I still use now in an apartment!
All of these items will be linked in this post for you to shop! I’ll make sure that they’re good for people on a budget (because I know I was) so that anyone will be able to afford these must-haves! They’ll all also be $20.00 and under so if you still need some last minute items, these are the ones for you!
Note: DO NOT go to the grocery/home stores the day of move-in. You will spend HOURS in there and the lines are literally insane no matter what town you’re in.
15 Dorm & Apartment Must-Haves Under $20
1. Felt Hangers:
I HAD to put these as the first item. I use these still and have just added and added and added to my collection. They’re amazing because 1) they’re super thin so you can fit a lot of them and 2) even you flowy-est clothes won’t fall off of them! I linked a LEGIT 50-pack of hangers and they’re only $24.99 guys!!
2. Fabric Bins:
I also thought these were an awesome investment. They fit in the top of your closet well and also under your bed! Whichever you prefer. I personally like them because they give the illusion that everything is organized (LOL) and it keep your space looking more tidy! Because we know that dorms and apartments are super small. This 6-set of bins is from Amazon and is only $16.87!
3. A Mesh Hamper:
It’s super likely you don’t have a washer/dryer in your dorm room (and if you do you are BLESSED). Make sure to invest in a hamper that is fabric (mesh) and with handles! The plastic ones are cumbersome and take up a lot of room. If yours is wire and mesh you can not only easily store it out of sight when it’s not needed, but they’re also tall and not wide so you can save space. This hamper is on Amazon for only $6.99 and it comes in a ton of other colors!
4. A Plastic Bin (Or 2):
This is the PERFECT item to use under your bathroom sink! I had two of these Freshman year (I use baskets now) and they were literally so great! I used one to store all of my hair products and the other to store all my cleaning supplies! I also suggest using clear bins because then you can see into them in a darker setting. This bin is literally just $11.49 but you can probably find some cheaper in store.
5. Brita Pitcher:
Even if you don’t drink water YOU SHOULD. You’ll likely be walking and lot more and I highly suggest taking advantage of your school’s gym (I mean you’re paying a fee regardless amiright). This is a great way to 1) stay hydrated and 2) save the environment! The filter’s are only about $6 (just use the great value ones) and need to be changed every 3 months. You’ll end up SAVING money over your 4-year college career getting one. I’ve had mine for that long! This one is only $17.99 from Amazon.
6. Reusable Water Bottle:
Like I said before, you’re going to be walking a lot and out and about often. Having a way to carry water around all day is a must! I have used Camelbak bottles since I was a freshman in high school and I swear by them. It’s nearly impossible for water to leak and they’re really durable! This one is just $14.58 on Amazon.
7. Tupperware Set:
Tupperware sets are a MUST whether you have a meal plan or not I promise. There will always be a day where you need one. If you have a meal plan you might need a small one to smuggle out ketchup to your room (hey, the college struggle is real sometimes) and the big ones are great if you end up at a cookout! This set gives you 15 containers for only $14.99!! So totally worth it.
8. Clothing Steamer:
As a fashion major I was really mad I didn’t think of this, but my friend Colyan actually did! This is SO NECESSARY because in a dorm room you don’t have space for a huge ironing board. I asked for one for Christmas two years ago and haven’t gone back since. I’m obsessed!! They take like 20 seconds to heat up and get your clothes looking fresh in under two minutes. I’m linking the one I have which is just $14.99! It also comes in 3 different colors.
9: Mattress Pad:
This is the one thing you need above ALL ELSE I’m telling you. It’s highly likely that even if your dorm/apartment is nice, you’ll have the crappy blue mattresses. They feel like kindergarten cots and are so uncomfortable. Make sure to get a mattress pad! They’re very affordable and you’ll sleep like a charm. The one above is the one I’ve had for three years now! It’s so great and for a twin size it’s only $12.99!
10. Wall Flowers:
Okay pretty random right? Well it’s not actually! Whether you’re a girl or guy it’s totally necessary to have a place that smells nice. You don’t want your friends coming over and thinking the place smells like sweaty clothes or the kitchen trash do you? These plug-ins are super cheap and Bath & Body Works has bulk sales often! The plug is only $4.50 which you can use indefinitely and the scents are just $6.50!
11. CLOROX WIPES:
This is in all caps because this is a NEED. Did you know your phone has more germs on it than a toilet? Yah crazy right. Wipe your phone off at the end of every day and it’ll keep all those gross college germs away. They’re also great because it’s a quick fix to cleaning up messes. A value pack of three huge containers is only $10.59 at Target!
12. Expandable Shoe Rack:
This is another must-have item for me. If you only have like four pairs of shoes you can totally ignore this but when you have around 15 pairs this just makes everything a whole lot easier! I keep this on the floor of my closet so I can easily see them as well as be able to keep the rest of my room uncluttered! This one is super similar to the one I have and it is just $13.80 from Walmart!
13. A Desk Fan:
I have had a desk fan in my room for literally my whole life. They’re so helpful and are the only way I can sleep! If you need white noise in the background this is definitely what you need. This is super great for anyone who has someone directly in their room! It’s also helpful if you’re in NYC for school and your dorm/apartment doesn’t have A/C. This fan is only $15.99 from Amazon!
14. Over The Door Organizer:
Not going to lie, I literally typed in “door shoe organizer thing” to find this online. This is technically a shoe organizer, but I know a lot of college students who use this to store snacks! If you’re limited on cabinet space in the kitchen, this is 100% a good option for you! It’s also totally okay to use this for just shoes as well. They fit in easily on many different types of dorm doors and if you purchase the linked on it’s just $12.87 for a 2-pack! One for shoes and one for snacks for less than $15.
15. Toilet Paper:
YES I JUST SAID IT. This is such a simple necessity that your mom/dad probs always has stocked that you forgot it doesn’t come with your home (maybe also remember paper towels as well)! This will come so in handy and then you won’t have to run to the super packed store on move in day to get the items you need. If you’re sharing a bathroom, it’s likely you’ll go through one roll a week too so be prepared! I linked a 30 roll super pack that’s only $19.98!
I hope you guys found this post of 15 Dorm & Apartment Must-Haves Under $20 helpful! I know I read a lot of posts like this before heading off to school four years ago so I hope my post helps you as well!
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Thank you so much! This was so helpful 🙂
Aw yay! I’m glad you think so!