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Splurge vs Save: Dorm Bedding


Splurge or Save
Product Information (left to right): Royal Velvet, Donna Karan

When it comes to college dorm shopping, bedding nearly always springs to mind first. Obviously, your bed is where you’re going to spend roughly a third of your four years in college (assuming you sleep enough). Health and wellness aside, it’s the focal point of your dorm room or apartment, and has the important role of establishing your room’s aesthetic.

I’ve always been on the fence about whether one should splurge or save when shopping for dorm room bedding. On one hand, good quality bed linens will last you a lifetime, and can be healthier for your skin and complexion than cheaper blends. On the other hand, I don’t plan on having many twin XL mattresses when I’m out of college, so I’m really only buying bedding for around four years or so.

So which is it? Should we shell out cash for our bedding, or is it something we can cut costs on (so we can save money for textbooks and takeout)? Let’s look at a few options from each category, and you can decide!

Bedding 101

There are a few key things to keep in mind when you head out to buy college bedding. (For even more tips, check out our tips on how to shop for dorm room bedding and the college dorm room shopping series.)

  • Check for the thread count by holding the bedding up to the light. Good-quality fabrics with high thread counts won’t let any light through. Generally, the higher the thread count, the more durable the fabric is.
  • Fabric is very important. If you have allergies to synthetic fabrics, stay away from polyester and polyblend comforters and sheets, unless you want to be scratching all night.
  • Try your best to purchase your bedding in-person. The product lighting in online stores can be misleading about colors, and it can be difficult to tell if a fabric will feel scratchy or not.
  • Check for a good-quality fabric by scraping your fingernail across it. If it pills, it’s not good quality.


Product Information (clockwise from top left): Pottery Barn, Lilly Pulitzer, 100% Silk, PoshLiving

To feel like a princess, look no further than luxury bedding. Silks, sateens, and ultra-high thread counts will make your bed fit for royalty, and their designs are absolutely gorgeous.

Why splurge?

  • Unlike a piece of clothing that you splurge on and wear only occasionally, your skin is in contact with your bedding for (hopefully) eight hours or more each evening. If you have sensitive skin, look for organic cotton sheets.
  • Sleeping on a silk pillow will do wonders for your hair and face.
  • When you get a better night’s sleep on good-quality linens, you’re more awake in the morning and will probably focus better in class.


Product Information (clockwise from top left): Ikea, Milanoo, Wal-Mart, Bed Bath and Beyond

Of course, we’ve got to be practical as well. Twin XL mattresses are pretty hard to find outside of a college dorm, so your sheets probably will be relegated to the back of the linen closet after four or so years.

Why save?

  • Keep in mind that in college, your bed is pretty much extra seating to your friends who come and visit. Some of them may harbor a liking for eating pizza (with extra sauce) while sitting on it…
  • College is your time to be absolutely ridiculous with your style and get away with it. Your big-girl self in a few years may look back at your pink zebra comforter and cringe at the very thought, but who cares? It’s not like you’re going to be using it again. Might as well save where you can.
  • You need at least two sets of bedding (one to put on the bed while the other is in the wash), and multiplying every price by two is a daunting idea.
  • Bed-in-a-bags are a college student’s best friend. Purchasing bedding elements à la carte can get extremely pricey, so getting them all in a complete set saves you a ton of cash.

What do you think?

Should you splurge or save on bedding? Did you splurge or save on your college dorm linens? What else do you recommend splurging (or saving) on? Got any more tips for bedding shopping? Let us know with a comment!

Posted on on July 28, 2012 / Filed Under: Dorm Room / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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27 Responses to “Splurge vs Save: Dorm Bedding”

  1. 1
    July 28th, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    When I was shopping for my dorm bedding, I knew that quality was important, but I wasn’t willing to splurge either. So I bought my bedding on clearance! It limits your selection, definitely, but getting a comforter for $16 that was originally $150 was definitely worth it.

  2. 2
    July 28th, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    As someone on a tight budget, I agree that college bedding should probably be a save. I mean, are you going to sleep on a twin xl mattress your whole life?You might even move off campus as an upper classmen. As much as l’d love a higher thread count, they can wait.

    However, I would recommend a quality pillow and mattress pad. That seems pretty important for a good night’s rest.

  3. 3
    July 28th, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I got a beautiful purple bed set from Bed Bath and Beyond in march fro 33 bucks and I love it :)

  4. 4
    July 28th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    I did the cheaper bedding, quality mattress pad and new pillows when I started college but when I start this new semester, I plan on bringing an unused comforter from home for a bit of a change.

  5. 5
    July 28th, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    You might not want to use milanoo as a source they have a horrible reputation .

  6. 6
    July 28th, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    What I did was I got some cheap XL sheets and then just used a regular sized twin comforter. No one could tell the difference and I used that comforter all four years of college.

  7. 7
    July 28th, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    While it’s ideal to save as much as possible in college, the mentality of who-cares-you’ll-never-use-it-again isn’t a very sustainable one. You should always try to maximize an item’s use instead of throwing it away and buying something new because you don’t like the colors any more. Otherwise, I agree that planning for a twin bed after college is a little unrealistic.

    Also, the site you linked in regards to the benefits of silk pillows is pure rhetoric. Their “research” actually disproves their claims.

  8. 8
    July 28th, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Twin XL and Queen beds are the same length, but Queens are just a bit wider! I figured I would have a queen sized bed at some point, so I bought a duvet Queen sized since I felt the real feather comfort was pricey but so worth it if I could use it later. It hangs down a bit lower than a Twin comforter would, but is otherwise great, especially if you have storage under your bed.

  9. 9
    July 29th, 2012 at 1:09 am

    I love Ikea! All the bedding I’ve gotten there has lasted me several years–no fading or pilling–which is great considering it costs about $20 for a duvet cover and two pillowcases.
    I do think it’s worth it to get a nice duvet; the covers are relatively cheap if you get tired of the pattern you have.
    Also, I’d avoid the jersey bed-in-a-bag sets. I once got one on super clearance from Target and the fabric pilled really quickly. It was $8, though, so I guess I should have known better.

  10. 10
    July 29th, 2012 at 3:09 am

    Definitely save. I have never lived in a dorm, but my boyfriend lives in college housing where the bed and mattress is provided. Thankfully, he bought a bed-in-a-bag set to use during his four years of living there because, just as you said, the bed is always used as extra seating. The majority of dorm rooms are tiny, so seating is limited. We eat, watch tv, drink, and sit on his bed constantly! I can’t tell you how many times someone has spilled sauce on his sheets, spilled drinks… and even burned them. He’s graduated now and will soon move out so these linens are going straight to the closet.

    Maybe if you’re really careful with them it would be all right to splurge a little, but I can’t see letting any of my rowdy college friends eat on, sit on, or even let anyone near $170 Pottery Barn covers. I’ll buy those when I get a decent job after my 4 year degree!

  11. 11
    July 29th, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Definitely save. I got my set at Linens and Things and it still looks good after four years, but since all college dorm beds at my school were twin and I have a queen bed I knew I was not going to use it again. It is only worth it to splurge if you own a twin bed outside of school.

  12. 12
    July 29th, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Quality linens are nice, but I don’t think they are necessary for a good night’s sleep. All of the reasons listed to splurge are so that you can sleep well. I slept for 4 years on Target dorm bedding, and I slept just fine. I think it’s crazy to spend $500 on bedding for an xl twin bed that will most likely get trashed and that you’ll never use again.

  13. 13
    July 29th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Got me inspired. Just ordered two sets :) One for $45 and one for $93. Dunno if the latter is splurge, it just got me.
    Thank you for being the trigger.

  14. 14
    July 29th, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    For my dorm bedding I wouldn’t really splurge. I’d rather have something cheap just so I can be sure that even if something happens to it I’m not going to regret buying something expensive.

  15. 15
    July 29th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I seriously would never splurge on a comforter or sheets for college. I’m starting grad school in a month, and let me just say that my comforter from college is BEAT! My sheets are also shot from frequent washing. In college you will do homework on bed, spill drinks, eat food, use your bed as a couch…seriously my stuff was just filthy and I’m a very clean and organized person! I got a set from JC Penney’s, so it wasn’t the cheapest option out there but at about $100 for four years worth of use it was worth it.

  16. 16
    July 29th, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    DO NOT BUY FROM MILANOO. I’ve been so screwed over by them, and am still owed over $100. DON’T DO IT.

  17. 17
    July 29th, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    I saved last year, as a freshman, for living in the dorms. I managed to get a bed in a bag set on clearance, size twin xl. But this year, since I’m moving into my sorority house, I’ve decided to buy a full-sized bed that will last me for years to come (even if my future husband and I do decide to size up at some point, a full will at least work better than a twin). Since I bought the actual bed with the idea of reusing it, I’ve decided to splurge a bit on the bedding. If I had decided to buy the entire set, it would cost me well over $200. But that entire set would consist of euro shams, decorative pillows (two are designed specifically for this set), drapes, sheet set, coverlet, and the comforter set. I’ve decided to just buy the comforter set and one decorative pillow, and when the colder months begin to roll in I’ll be buying the coverlet and perhaps the other decorative pillow as well. At the same time I decided to save buy not buying the sheet set that goes with this, but buying the sheets from another place in a similar color.

    The good thing about a la carte shopping is that you can pick and choose pieces you like/need and replace the others with other items you prefer.

  18. 18
    July 29th, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I say save! Odds are, your style is going to change a lot in college! If you only have to spend twenty dollars on a comforter as opposed to $200, you’ll feel less guilty about getting something different the next year!

  19. 19
    July 29th, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Kyrae and Leah — Thanks for the tip about Milanoo! I didn’t know about their less-than-savory reputation, so thanks for alerting me, and I’ll be sure to keep it in mind in later posts.

  20. 20
    July 30th, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Save! Most college bedding is shot at the end of four years and you’re most likely not going to use it again. My sheets got thrown out at the end of college, but my quilt was still in good shape. I keep it around for when I have guests sleep on my futon!

  21. 21
    August 2nd, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Personally, I prefer a middle ground. Buy cheap sheets and a cheap bedspread, but splurge on some nicer pillowcases/throw pillows/accessories so that your dorm doesn’t just scream “Target Clearance”. Or, conversely, buy a full sized duvet so that you can use it after you move out of the dorms (which you may do in a year or two). Stick with a budget friendly duvet cover for now, though, because yes, it will probably accumulate a stain or two!

  22. 22
    August 6th, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Splurge! I definitely wanted my dorm to look as home-y as possible considering they are usually feel so cold (unless you decorate the right way!) Also, I go to college in the city so a tiny apartment was bound to happen sophomore year, meaning I could only fit a twin size bed in my room, so I reused it! Perfect!

  23. 23
    September 4th, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Wow! Nice comparison. I am loving this. Thanks Amy for the nice post

  24. 24
    October 25th, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    its nice when we can buy quality bedding’s with good designs for a low value :)

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