Surviving the dorm bathroom

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Surviving the dorm bathroom: Part 4 of the Tips for College series

College bathrooms for freshmen are either communal style – in which the entire hall shares a bathroom, often separated by gender – or private – in which the bathroom is "en suite" and shared by a few roommates.

The communal bathroom is a place of uneasiness for freshmen accustomed to their private bathrooms at home. Have no fear! College bathrooms aren’t quite as horrible as lore makes them out to be. Yes, they are filthy the morning after weekend parties. Yes, there is a constant ball of anonymous hair in each shower. But, communal bathrooms are great places to be social with neighbors down the hall. The famous “buddy shower” is prevalent amongst neighbors who use their shower time to catch up on the latest gossip.

The supplies needed for a bathroom depends on the type of bathroom – communal or private. A communal bathroom is cleaned by janitors and doesn’t require a bathmat or other personal items. Private bathrooms are usually cleaned by the members of the suite, thus you’ll need cleaning supplies in addition to a shower curtain and bathmat.   

Here is our checklist of bathroom necessities:


Bathmats are placed outside of the shower to prevent against accidental falls. Wet tile floors are dangerous without some form of a rug. Even if you have a shared bathroom, carrying your own non-slip bathmat to the shower is a touch of luxury you will appreciate as others stand in wet bare feet on a dirty floor.


Bathrobes are a saving grace for long treks down the hall to the nearest bathroom. The usual procedure for showering is to strip down in the privacy of your room, throw on a bathrobe or wrap, and head to the bathroom with towel and caddy in tow. Or you could pass on the bathrobe and flaunt your toweled-self all the way to the bathroom. 

Bath sponge

Either using a bath sponge and liquid soap or just a bar of soap is a personal preference.


A caddy is the best way to carry toiletries to the bathroom. An ideal caddy has draining holes on the bottom, compartments for various items, and is sturdy enough to stand up to daily use.

Cleaning supplies

If you are lucky enough to be granted a private bathroom, it’s also your duty to clean it. Grab some sponges, a toilet brush, and chemical cleaners.

For proper bathroom cleaning get tips here.


It’s easy to forget all of the products used in daily beauty regimens. Makeup often consists of lotion, eyeshadow primer, eyeshadow, liner, mascara, brow pencil, face primer, concealer, foundation, powder, blush, bronzer, lip liner, lipstick, and lip gloss.
Feminine hygiene

Ladies, you should know what items constitute feminine hygiene. In case you’ve missed anything: pads, tampons, and/or liners are the necessities. 

First aid

Having a little box of first aid equipment is smart in case of emergencies and it’ll do wonders to calm parents. This box should contain prescription medicines if needed, ibuprofen, tweezers, alcohol wipes, hand cleaner, medical tape, sterile gauze, elastic bandages, band aids, insect repellent, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, scissors, cold packs, and a barrier device for CPR.


Shower flip flops protect your feet from fungus and mold multiplying in the communal showers. Don’t be that kid that braves the showers barefoot.


Special medications should be accompanied by a doctor’s note in order to place refills at the school health center. In case of serious medical problems a medical journal listing these problems and emergency contact information is also useful.

Shower curtain

Keep water in the shower and not on the floor. Shower curtains typically aren’t provided in private bathrooms.


The most forgotten items come from the seemingly never-ending list of toiletries. We underestimate the number of hygiene and beauty products that we use on a daily basis. Here is a basic list of toiletries to either bring to college or buy once there: shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, face wash, acne medication, moisturizer, Q-tips, cotton balls, nail polish, nail polish remover, razors, shaving cream, tweezers, brush, and hair straightener/dryer. The list goes on so be sure to pack accordingly.


Large towels for shower time come in a multitude of materials and colors. Anything will do so long as the towel is durable enough to stand repeated washes and dryings. It’s best to have three towels on rotation to minimize the need for laundry every week.


A small washcloth for the face should be kept separate from the other towels.

This was Part 4 in the Tips for College series. Catch up here:

Part 1: Dorm Bedroom Ideas
Part 2:
What you need for Studying at College
Part 3:
What you need for Dorm Room Cooking

Then, don't miss these tips too:

Part 5:
Pack your College Wardrobe Basics
Part 6:
and everything else you shouldn't forget for What You Really Need for College

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