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How to Shop for Dorm Room Bedding


Polka dot dorm room bedding
Photo Credit

By now, if you’ve been following our latest dorm room series, you’ve learned how to organize your room around a color scheme and create a dorm room layout. These are important basic steps for creating your dream dorm, but so far they’ve centered around visualization – and now it’s time to get to the fun part: shopping!

Today, we’re going to tackle the task of shopping for dorm room bedding! In this article, you will learn how to figure out what your bed essentials are and how to go out shopping for them on a college student’s budget, while picking up some useful tips and advice for when to splurge or save.

Let’s get started!

Dorm Room Bedding

Tree-shaped bed
Photo Credit

Whenever you look at someone’s dorm room, or even a photo of a dorm, your eye is naturally drawn to the bed. As the biggest piece of furniture, the bed commands attention, and as such, should be the focal point of your dorm room. Bedding is so important because it can tie your room’s color scheme together and is easily customizable.

Your bed is where you will spend the majority of your time when you’re in your dorm — treat it as such! After you get the basics like a mattress pad and/or cover, there’s nothing stopping you from customizing your color palette as much as you want.

Things to Know Before You Shop:

  • Buy bedding that fits your bed (most dorm beds are extra-long twin sized). Sheets need to fit exactly, but you can get away with a full-size comforter, which will just hang longer over the side of the bed.
  • Whenever possible, look for sheets and bedspreads made of natural fibers, such as cotton. Like having cotton clothing, cotton bedding breathes, so that air circulates properly through your bed, keeping you refreshed. Plus, it’s comfier, and so worth the extra money.
  • As we’ve mentioned in our previous post on dorm bedding, we don’t recommend white bedding for most people, simply because your bed gets used as seating in college and stains are inevitable. If you’re uber neat or will wash your bedding often, white can work, but when in doubt, go for something darker.
  • If your room faces west (when you look out the window, you’re looking west), try getting one set of bedding in light, airy colors (think sea-inspired), and one in warmer, cozy colors (think fire-inspired). With the way the sunlight hits your room, it will be colder in the winter and hotter in the summer (my dorm faces west, so I’ve learned this the hard way). Having airy colors in the summer will make your room feel fresher, and having cozy colors in the winter will help with the unfortunate fact that your room temperature will be slightly chillier than that of your friends in north, east, or south-facing dorms.
  • A high thread count does not necessarily guarantee that your comforter will be the best thing since sliced bread. A tpi (threads per inch) of 300-400 is a good mix of softness and durability.
  • Down or down alternative duvet inserts are a great way to go if you plan on changing up your bedspread fairly regularly, and are also useful in case you get horribly bored with your bedspread pattern and don’t want to buy a whole new comforter.

Chic & Affordable College Bedding Picks

College dorm duvet covers and comforters
Product Information (from left to right, top to bottom): Multicolored Fauna, Purple/White Floral, Plumeria, Hampton Stripes, Black/White Rabbit, Blue Cabana, Zebra, Pink/Blue Solid, Tommy Squares

Dorm Room Sheets

Dorm room sheets
Photo Credit

Sheets are difficult to shop for. They should complement, but not overpower, your bedspread, but should also be colorful or patterned enough so that they will hide any stains that may arise from using your bed as a couch.

Tips for Buying Dorm Sheets:

  • If you’ve decided on a color scheme for your overall bedding, try to get sheets in the lightest of the colors you’ve selected. Unsure what your colors are called? Wikipedia’s List of Colors is a lifesaver when you’re trying to get a sales associate to help you find your perfect sheets.
  • You may be like me and insist on cotton for everything, but blend fabrics and flannels are great as well. I happily sing the praises of flannel sheets every time winter rolls around, and blend fabrics wrinkle much less than cotton ones do.
  • Sheets shrink. Try to find out the dimensions of your mattress, and make sure your fitted sheet, well, fits.
  • Get at least two sets of sheets! In college, you’re probably not going to feel like doing laundry every week, but you’ll still need to change your sheets regularly. Unless you’re committed to regular laundry days, get multiple sheet sets and swap them out as needed.
  • Make sure your sheets are machine-washable. Silk sheets are luxurious and amazing, yes, but paying for dry cleaning will make your wallet sad.

Chic and Affordable Dorm Room Sheets We Love:

Product Information (from left to right, top to bottom): Jersey Sheet Set, Floral Sketch, Tie-Dye, Pink and Grey Stripes, Polka Dot, Big Bloom, Cabana Stripe, Tommy Hilfiger, Gridlock

More Tips & Tricks for Shopping for Dorm Room Bedding

  • If you plan on storing lots of stuff under your bed (who isn’t going to?), consider buying a bed skirt. A simple white ruffle will cover up the unsightly storage boxes underneath, and is the easiest way to make a bed look clean and put-together.
  • Go to a variety of stores to find bedding and basics. Make sure to hit up your local Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx, or other discount store — I recently bought an entire Ralph Lauren Home bedding set there!
  • Got a sewing machine? You can always make your own duvet cover! It’s the best (and simplest) way to ensure your bedding matches your sheets. I’m doing this as soon as I learn how to use my sewing machine again.
  • Vinegar can soften your sheets if you throw it in with the fabric softener. Some sheets get scratchy after a few washes, and this is a quick and inexpensive fix.
  • The word “sateen” on the label usually means that the sheets will feel like heaven.
  • For even more tips on shopping for your dorm bedding, see our article Dorm Room Shopping Part 1 – Bedding.

Now It’s Your Turn!

What did you think of these bedding shopping tips? What does your bedding for school look like, and how did you decide on it? What’s your best advice for college students buying sheets and comforters for the first time? Let us know with a comment!

Posted on on August 5, 2011 / Filed Under: Dorm Room / Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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20 Responses to “How to Shop for Dorm Room Bedding”

  1. 1
    August 5th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Great advice, but I could never pay 40 dollars for sheets.. I got a Jersey Knit sheet set from target when it was on sale for about 10 dollars, and a comforter and duvet cover from ikea for 35. I really dont think that freshman students should invest very much in their freshman dorm bedding sets, especially because when you move out in one year, you’ll have no use for your XL Twin sheets. Personally, I say go ahead and splurge on a blanket (because you can use it for the next 4 years) but i dont place very much importance on sheets so go to target and rack up the cheap stuff..the jersey knit stuff is really comfortable!

  2. 2
    August 5th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I’m having a really hard time finding XL twin sheets in fun colors (looking for some shade of purple). Do you have any suggestions as to where I can look online? I’ve already tried all the typical ones (Target, Walmart, Kmart, BedBath&Beyond, etc.).

  3. 3
    August 5th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Allison-I think I saw purple sheets at Target the other day. They were near the dorm stuff, so I would assume they come in an XL twin size!

    I love how you put a link in here about making your own duvet! My mom and I made mine last year with queen-sized single flat sheets (bought 2), cut it to the size of the comforter I purchased, and put cute buttons on to close it. Although I know this article generally does not recommend white, I used it both last year and this year because I use a facewash that contains benzoyl peroxide, and I’ve already ruined one comforter from it. I also bought white sheets because that way, I can wash them on hot and bleach them (to kill bedbugs, germs, etc) without ruining the print. To make my bed less “blah,” I put a handmade t-shirt quilt at the foot of my bed and put some colorful throw pillows on there as well.

  4. 4
    August 5th, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    When I started first year I bought a set of sheets and a comforter at Walmart. I bought regular twin sheets, and the cheapest comforter I could find with a pattern I liked. Big mistake. Now I’m returning to residence for my third year and this time I thought things through. My comforter from first year is pretty much destroyed after being used as a couch for the last two years. I bought this one at Target which is a much darker colour and I bought it in Full/Queen size so it will hang off the side eliminating the need for a bed skirt. I also bought a set of light grey sheets in Twin XL having learned my lesson about too-short fitted sheets.

  5. 5
    August 5th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    If you loft your bed, don’t expect to change your sheets often. I had a loft for a year and a half and my friend/roommate was always making fun of me because I never washed them! Like…ever. (Think post-LDR-boyfriend visits.)

  6. 6
    August 5th, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    The word “sateen” on the label usually means that the sheets will feel like heaven.


  7. 7
    August 6th, 2011 at 1:21 am

    The best thing I ever did was buy bed risers for my dorm’s XL twin. They raise your bed an average of 6 inches (depending on the brand and size), giving you a lot more storage space. I was able to stack two under-bed storage containers after I got the risers!

  8. 8
    August 6th, 2011 at 1:53 am

    My dorms had standard twin size, so I actually picked out my comforter set from the kid section at Target that was pink and had cute owls on it. I loved having a “cuter” style bedding and no one else had the same bedding as me. (My roommate got one from the “college” section at Target and I knew a handful of people with the exact same kind.)

  9. 9
    August 6th, 2011 at 5:06 am

    I’m VERY picky when it comes to bedding – as in, when I was heading off for my freshman year, I literally went to every store on the north-side of Atlanta and couldn’t find a single set I liked.

    I did, however, find several throw-pillows that I LOVED. Luckily, my mom is great with a sewing machine, so we bought a comforter and some solid sheets that matched the pillows on sale, and my mom made a doubter cover for it from them. The best part is, that if I ever get tired of the set I can just get a new duvet cover and keep my perfectly fantastic comforter.

    Think about this is you’re super picky, because you will NOT be happy staring at a bed set you hate every day for a few years.

  10. 10
    August 6th, 2011 at 5:13 am

    Also, duvet covers are fantastic because, if anything every gets on them, you can take them off the comforter to wash it. I’m not sure if you even CAN wash regular comforters….

  11. 11
    August 6th, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Oh my gosh! I so want that tree shaped bed.

  12. 12
    August 6th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    One other thing I’d like to throw in:
    Definitely check what floor your room is on and whether or not you have air conditioning. My room freshman year was on the 3rd floor of a dorm that wasn’t air conditioned. This meant it was hotter than the center of the earth ALL year. Even in the middle of a Minnesota winter, we had our window open with a fan on ( and the heat off), and my roommate and I rarely even used our comforters. Luckily, I got cotton sheets, so I stayed pretty cool, but my roomate had jersey/flannelish sheets and she about died from the heat.
    So, that’s just something else to think about.

  13. 13
    August 7th, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I actually work in a boutique where we sell high-end linens and there a couple of things I learned about sheets that are really important but most people don’t know. The higher the thread count, the warmer the sheet. Sateens, although they do feel like heaven, are going to be much warmer than a percale, which may not be as soft but is more breathable. This is definitely something to consider if you are going to school somewhere where it stays fairly warm or fairly cold year round. Or you could always have more than one set and rotate them out! Also, you never want to wash your sheets in hot water. The heat breaks down the fibers and your sheets will not stay soft/last as long. Use cold water and a good, gentle linen detergent, like LeBlanc. LeBlanc has a degreaser in it that will get all the dirt and grime out without scaulding your sheets. Also, only dry them in the dryer until they are damp. Then you can continue to air dry them the rest of the way or go ahead and put them on the bed (which will decrease wrinkling, who wants to have to iron their sheets?). The excess heat from over-drying them is bad for the fabric, and again your sheets will not be as soft/last as long. No fabric softener either! I never use the stuff, it is so bad for fabric! I think a couple of good sets of sheets are definitely worth the investment, even for college. If you take good care of them, they will absolutely last you the 4 (or 5 or 6 years) you are in school!

  14. 14
    August 17th, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    My family and I are planing to renovate my bedroom. I had seen a picture on the internet of your Woodland Garden Duvet Cover and had really liked it. But when I came to the website i see that your out of the product, if so, how much would it be to have it made and shipped to Canada? It would be appreciated if you get back to us!

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