It’s that time of year again when people are making plans and preparing to go back to school. It’s also the time of year when students are deciding whether to live in the dorms, commute, or as is the case this year… telecommute.
This year is obviously very different for students because of everything that’s going on in the world, but this is going to be an advice post for everyone choosing to live in the dorms but still want to try and pursue a healthy lifestyle.
This post is a list of recommendations that I have for anyone choosing to live in their college’s dorms. These are based on my own experiences. I lived in the dorms for about two-ish years out of the four-ish years that I went to school. Also note, some of these links are Amazon Affiliate links so I will be earning commission if you buy through the links! While much appreciated, it doesn’t affect what you pay!
Also, a little background into my college experiences: I lived in the dorms in two different states and two different schools, one private school and one public university. I also worked as an RA in the dorms so I’ll be offering a bit of insight into what is and what isn’t allowed in the dorms!
While these recommendations are based on my own experiences, these recommendations may not work for everyone.
Your idea of health may differ than mine and that’s okay!
What you’ll find is that your college experience is super unique to you so it’s not necessary to have or buy all of these things to live healthy in the dorms!
Okay, now let’s jump into my five necessities for living healthy in college dorms!
Mini Fridge and Freezer
This is probably one of the things that I would highly recommend to anyone moving into the dorms!
Having a mini fridge and freezer in your room makes life so much easier and more comfortable once you move away from home and are living in the dorms.
It’s very easy to give into the temptation of buying snacks from vending machines and the restaurants that cater to your college campus. You’ll spend $1.50 here on some chips while walking to one of your classes then $3.00 on a muffin when you’re walking back to your dorm at the end of the day.
Having a mini fridge and freezer takes the guesswork out of where you’re going to be getting your snacks, and it also provides you a place to have a constant supply of healthy snacks. If you have a mini fridge you can store yogurts, fresh fruits, veggies, almond milks, cottage cheese, Babybel cheeses (mmmmm my fav), as well as any leftovers from your dinners out!
If you have a freezer, you can also store ice creams and desserts so when those late night cravings hit, you can just reach into your freezer and snack away instead of disrupting your studying by going out for a late night snack run.
Most colleges will actually allow you to rent a fridge from them but it will be around $90 a semester or around $180 or something for a year to rent. You’ll be responsible for keeping it clean and keeping it properly maintained. This means that if someone is in your dorm and accidentally dents it, scratches it, or knocks the door loose, you will be responsible for damages and buying it outright.
This is why I would recommend buying one for yourself before heading to college. Even if you find that dorm life isn’t for you after your first semester, you will have your own mini fridge to store all your snacks, drinks, and treats so that your housemates or family won’t swipe them from the community kitchen.
This is the type of fridge that I had when I lived in the dorms:
I loved it. I still have it (my brother is now using it.) It is compact enough that it didn’t take up a lot of space which I and my roommates appreciated. It was also big enough to hold all of my snacks, meal ingredients, and drinks (La Croix, coconut water, etc.)
Any fridge, even without a freezer, is a great choice which I highly recommend having in the dorms!
Electric Hot Water Kettle
So if you’re anything like me, you probably drink a lot of tea, coffee, and other hot drinks like hot cocoa, apple cider, and the list goes on.
Aaand, if you’re anything like me, you probably like saving money, too!
That’s why I highly recommend that when you move into the dorms, you bring with you an electric hot water kettle. Obviously you’re going to get a lot of use out of it if you’re a big tea drinker, but even if coffee is more your speed, having an electric hot water kettle is great to have on hand.
Along with an electric hot water kettle, I would recommend you bring along a French press as well.
Ditch the Keurig and single serving coffee machines! They produce so much waste, they’re loud, they’re obstructive, they’re dirty, and they use a lot of energy. Some of them aren’t even allowed in dorms so double check before buying one of those fancy machines and hauling it to your room.
A French press is much more economical, eco-friendly, quiet, and the aroma from the fresh made coffee is *chefs kiss*. You can also use the coffee grounds from your french press for weekly facials and body scrubs. It’s also much cheaper (and fun) to brew your own coffee in the mornings and whenever you’re in need of a pick me up!
Did you know that “according to a 2016 Acorns survey… the average American spends just over $20 a week on coffee, while 41% of millennials surveyed admitted to spending more on coffee in the past year than they invested in their retirement.”
For $20, you can buy several different bags of specialty coffee from the grocery store which will last you a month or more!
Buying and brewing your own coffee saves your money and is a much smarter allocation of your funds. A French press is also a low cost, quiet, and small way to get your coffee fix.
But also with a hot water kettle, you’ll have a much easier time cooking up some instant noodles, instant soups, or just about anything that requires hot water to consume.
If you are in the market for an electric hot water kettle, just make sure it has automatic shut off and that it doesn’t utilize a hot plate! These were the stipulations for my universities so I imagine they apply to other schools as well.
If you need a recommendation for a specific hot water kettle, this is the hot water kettle that I use now. My trusty hot water kettle that I used in college finally kicked the bucket after 5 years of constant use. RIP. But this one is delightful. And the LED is a great bonus for the ambience!
Now along with a hot water kettle and a mini fridge, an important recommendation I have for you if you’re about that health-conscious lifestyle is to bring a self serve blender with you to college!
I loved and still love having a mini blender with me in my dorm room so that I could whip up a protein shake, smoothie, or dessert smoothie whenever I was feeling it.
It’s very easy to skip out on meals or bring something back to your dorm room like fast food or snacks from the vending machine when you’re done with your classes, but if you have a blender, it’s so much easier to blend up a healthy, delicious smoothie before diving into your studies (or taking a nap because, come on, you’ll be taking more naps than you think.)
You can make practically anything in a blender from delicious protein shakes, fruit smoothies, chip and cracker dips, flours for baking… literally the list goes on and on!
With this being said, you don’t need a fancy Ninja blender or magic bullet or anything like that to be able to make delicious smoothies. I bought my Hamilton Beach blender in 2016 and am still using it for my daily protein shakes.
Dorm SHOES and Shower SHOES
Here’s one thing that you’ll quickly find out about college: it’s filthy.
And one thing you’ll soon find out about college dorms: they’re absolutely filthy.
So here’s one of my suggestions if you’re serious about living healthy while in college… Don’t wear your outside shoes in your dorm room. Take them off when you enter and wear dorm shoes. These dorm shoes should not see the outside pavement or anything, and honestly, they shouldn’t even see the dorm hallways.
When you wear your outside shoes into your small dorm room, you’re introducing a bunch of unnecessary germs, dirt, and grime into your dorm room that you are responsible for cleaning. And let’s be real, not many college students actually clean their rooms every day.
Along this line, don’t put your backpack on your bed. Your backpack will probably be set on the floor, on bus seats, on park benches, on the grass outside on the quad, and you’ll probably never wash the thing as long as you have it so the last thing you want is for all of those germs to end up on your clean bed sheets!
So along with dorm shoes, also wear shower shoes!!
This cannot be understated and I actually kinda wanna yell this at any unsuspecting resident… WEAR SHOWER SHOES!! PLEASE!
Don’t walk around barefoot in the dorms. Don’t walk around barefoot in the dorm bathrooms. And don’t walk around barefoot in the dorm showers!
You’ll quickly hear stories of what goes on in shared dorm bathrooms so for your own health, be sure to wear shower shoes when you’re showering!
They can be flip flops from the Dollar Tree or they can be those fancy massage shoes with the holes in the bottom that allow water to drain out. Those are what I had and they were great!
Cleaning supplies and disinfecting wipes
As I mentioned previously, colleges are very dirty places to be and college dorms get pretty dirty. It’s really in the nature of a dormitory to be messy and dirty, so with this, I would highly recommend that you bring along some standard cleaning supplies when you move into your dorm.
Most dorms will allow you to rent their vacuums and borrow certain cleaning supplies like a rag and disinfectant wipes so don’t worry about buying a brand new vacuum to bring along with you. But I would recommend three specific items.
First, a good degreaser. You’ll be eating in your dorm whether you think you will be or not and whether you decide to bring a fridge or not. The worst thing is when you spill something and have nothing to clean it up with so you’re left with a stain or sticky or annoying residue all over your desk or countertops. This is why a good degreaser is important to tote along.
Second, an antibacterial spray. You can bring along a Lysol disinfectant aerosol spray, but I think having an antibacterial cleaning spray works even better. The trick to getting a true clean is to go in first with the degreaser, go back over everything with an antibacterial spray, and then finally hitting it with disinfectant wipes.
Which is the third recommendation which is disinfectant wipes. You’ll probably use these most of all because they’re easy and they give you sound peace of mind when it comes to tidying up your dorm room every day.
The specific products you use don’t really matter, but if you want to live your best and your healthiest, cleanliness cannot be overstated.
So while those are my top five necessities for healthy living in college dorms, here are some additional recommendations.
A rice maker
This sounds so goofy and I actually had quite a few people think I was crazy when I brought a rice maker to school, but they weren’t laughing when we were a few weeks into school and drowning in assignments and didn’t have time to run to the dining hall in between classes and study sessions.
A rice maker is sooo much more than just a rice maker. Of course you can make your rice, but you can also make soup, mac and cheese, barley, oatmeal, beans, you can steam vegetables, you can make cakes and brownies!, and you can even make hard boiled eggs for snacks!
I love my rice maker so much and honestly, if you’re like me and like to make your own food, love healthy snacks, and just love cooking, get yourself a rice maker. You’ll save so much money and time when you’re able to cook cheap, quick, and healthy meals whenever you need them!
Be sure to check with your dorm rules first though to make sure it’s allowed!
I feel like people don’t understand just how much plants and green things in your living space does to your wellbeing and sense of self. If your dorm allows plants (because some don’t), bring along a leafy green plant or two.
They’re great for purifying the air and making your space feel alive.
If you live somewhere humid already you can probably ignore this, but with fall and winter approaching, everyone else should be turning your attention towards acquiring a humidifier.
My face, hair, and skin always dry out in the fall and winter so having a humidifier by my bed always does wonders to keep me hydrated.
A humidifier is also really good for keeping your nasal passages hydrated and less susceptible to sickness and illnesses.
If your school doesn’t allow full sized humidifiers, think of buying one of those USB humidifiers that you can place on your desk next to your computer.
Lastly, a water bottle and a thermos
Please, before you even get to college, make it a habit to bring your own water bottle wherever you go.
This is not only for your own benefit since you need to be hydrating constantly throughout the day, but it also ensures that you don’t really have a need for plastic water bottles.
Plastic water bottle waste is one of the most annoying things to see because it’s so unnecessary. So when you get to your dorms, please think of investing in a water bottle. Most universities are now equipped with cool little water bottle refilling stations nearly everywhere so there’s no excuse to not be hydrated and not have a place to fill up your bottle.
You can opt for the trendy Hydroflasks, but I also carried either Nalgene water bottles or Contigo bottles. Honestly, any brand will do!
Also, along that vein, invest in a good thermos as well. Carrying a thermos filled with your favorite coffees, teas, or soups will save you so much money and will help you stay hydrated throughout your days.
I would always make myself a cup of tea in the morning to carry in my thermos and it would last me throughout two or three classes. I used the Contigo travel mug so if you’re in the market, these ones are amazing!
So those are some of my recommendations for living healthy while living at your college dorms!
Let me know what you think about the recommendations and let me know if you have any questions or anything like that!
Good luck this semester!