2020 Back-to-College Essentials

General PPE and Cleaning Supplies

Colorful cloth masks on a wooden table.

While some supplies, like a thermometer, tissues and antibacterial soap, might be normal for college students, 2020 students will need a whole host of other fun PPE and cleaning supply necessities. From disinfecting wipes (or spray and paper towels since wipes still seem to be a hot commodity) to masks, buckets of hand sanitizer and maybe even gloves and face shields, the list is almost endless. Pick up a bit of what you’ve been using all summer as well as a few extra masks in case some go missing and you should be ready for anything college life throws at you.

Mini Freezer

Freezer full of ice and a single pint of ice cream.

Sure, your roommate’s mini-fridge might have a small freezer compartment big enough for maybe two pints of ice cream, but that’s about it. People might question your sanity when you say you’re bringing a mini-freezer, but guess who’ll have the last laugh when its finals week and the caf is closed at 2:00 A.M. and you’re in desperate need of some bagel bites? YOU! Also, if your college is anything like my old one, no one is allowed to eat anywhere but in their dorms until further notice, so stocking up on freezer-food is probably a good plan regardless of late-night study sessions.

Window Shades

White, light filtering temporary paper shades.
Redi Shades in White Light Filtering

While you probably won’t be allowed to drill holes in your dorm walls or window frames, that’s no reason to go without blinds or shades! Your room might come with some, or it might not. It all depends on your college or university. To be on the safe side, get some easy, affordable Redi Shades. Just use the adhesive to attach them to the top or outside of the window frame and that’s all it takes! You can even use them to block the underside of the upper bunk if your beds are in an “L” formation. Redi Shades are perfect for college life because they’re cheap, easy to use, and they come in blackout, which means you can sleep whenever you want without light bothering you.

Air Fresheners

Air freshener plugged into a wall outlet next to a painting of a shell.

You may not like to think about it much, but dorm rooms are SMALL and the smell of a single stinky shoe can take days to wear off. Make sure you’re prepared for odor battle with the air fresheners of your choice. Whether you go for a Glade Plugin (set to low to accommodate the general lack of space found in any dorm room), one of the new Febreze Small Spaces air fresheners, or even those weird gel cones that die after a week, make sure you’ve got enough stocked up to keep odors at bay.

A Better Trash Can

I know, it’s gross, but seriously the trash can your dorm may supply you with is small and doesn’t have a lid. While the fact that it’s small might be good for keeping down odors, the whole “no lid” thing kind of negates that. Invest in a small eight-gallon trashcan with a lid. It’s small enough that you won’t be hoarding garbage, plus the bags will be light enough that you can easily carry them to the dumpster, while the lid significantly diminishes the amount of garbage odor that might seep into your room. If you can, get a foot or sensor operated garbage can so you don’t even have to touch the lid. Some even have air filters to cut down on the smell.