The uncommon dorm essentials

Photo by Dani Sisson Student Publications

As soon as high school me found out where I would be attending college, I immediately created a working master spreadsheet of all the items, decor and essentials that I would need to start accumulating for the fall. I started with the basics: a sturdy laundry hamper, reusable dishes and utensils, a mini fridge, clothes hangers and more. But, after a semester at the Institute, I realized that there were certain items I overlooked, things that would have saved me time and hassle as a freshman. 

With that being said, here are my top five uncommon dorm essentials — and I’m not talking about Britas and shower shoes — that I think all first-years should bring to college. Disclaimer: These items aren’t really essential. Nothing is in order of importance, and definitely take these suggestions with a grain of salt. Okay, let’s get started.

  1. Mason Jars

I promise this is not just for the aesthetics. While drinking iced coffee out of a mason jar might make you feel fancy and put together, the real reason it’s on my list is because of its storing and cleaning properties. Packing leftovers into a mason jar versus a plastic container is game-changing; food lasts longer since the seal is tighter, no plastic chemicals are released and newer mason jars are microwave-safe. The best part is that once you finish eating your leftovers (which, did I mention, you can eat right out of the jar), just partially fill the vessel with water and dish soap and start shaking. This cleaning technique is effective, easy and requires as little contact with the nasty communal kitchen as possible.

  1. Laundry Balls

One of my biggest pet peeves last year was waiting patiently for my clothes to dry, only to find out an hour later that my clothes were still partially-damp. Maybe this was because there were so many washers and dryers in one room that the drying strength collectively decreased. Or maybe it’s because one of the ruthless kids in my hall would stop my load every now and then to check if it was done, so they could replace my laundry with theirs. No matter what it was, investing in $5 wool laundry balls from Trader Joe’s changed my life. To this day, I toss a few of them in every time I dry a load of laundry, and my clothes are dried to perfection every time. 

  1. Laundry Garment Bags

Speaking of laundry, do yourself a favor and buy a couple of laundry garment bags, one for socks and one for undergarments. The dorm laundry machines are typically stacked on top of each other, so the struggle is real when it comes to searching for that last sock all the way in the top, far corner of the machine. It’s also the absolute worst feeling when anything accidentally falls onto the forbidden laundry room floor. Trust me, garment bags are watching out for your hygiene and sanity.

  1. Rain Boots

I’ve lived in Georgia my whole life, but I had never found the need to invest in a pair of rain boots until my first week of college. I guess I just didn’t realize that, rain or shine, I have to walk across campus to my classes. Especially at Tech, where water pools in the most inconvenient places, rain boots are a must. Pro tip: I bought a $20 pair off of Amazon, and they have yet to fail me!

  1. Water Bottle Cleaning Tablets

Come on now… I know you haven’t washed your emotional support water bottle in a hot minute. Although you could bring a bulky water bottle scrub and straw cleaner to school, it’s just inconvenient. Where do you keep it to dry without collecting dust? Where do you store it without bending the bristles? Skip the hassle and buy some dissolving cleaning tablets. All you have to do is drop one into your water-filled bottle, let it dissolve for 10-15 minutes, rinse it and it’s good to use!

I understand that these items aren’t going to be useful for everybody, but hopefully, at the very least, this article reminded you to clean your Hydro Flask.