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Michelle Fern Michelle Fern
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Doing dorm bedding right

August 8, 2012
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As our oldest child heads to his new adventure at college, it's been a busy summer planning for all of the things he'll need when he gets there. From books and a meal plan to even his new laptop, we've tried to think of all the things today's college student has to have.

And then there's the college dorm room.

For college students, the dorm room is their home away from home and it's important to furnish and decorate it comfortably and inexpensively. And most colleges provide twin-sized beds; however, many use extra long mattresses to accommodate taller individuals. Buying the correct bedding can make all the difference, as the bed takes up the majority of both physical and visual space in the dorm room.

Here are some simple steps to follow:

1. Remember that college is the first (and probably last) time your child will live essentially on his or her own before entering 'the adult work world.' It's okay if everything in the room doesn't perfectly match go wild and mix prints!

2. Read the dorm guidelines that the school sends. Have your child pay attention at orientation and ask current other students for any tips.

3. The most important rule of buying bedding for the dorm is getting extra-long twin sheets. Regular twin-sized sheets or full sheets will not fit.

Fitted sheet sizes are:

  • Twin sheets - 39 x 75 inches
  • Twin extra-long sheets/Twin XL/TXL - 39 x 80 inches
  • Full sheets - 54 x 75 inches

4. Forget white bedding. Because there's so little space in the dorm, the bed is also a couch, the office, and the dinner table. Bedding with dark colors or prints makes it easier to camouflage any spills or stains.

5. Buy at least two sets of sheets one set for the bed and one clean set. A sheet set includes a pillowcase, a flat sheet and a fitted sheet. Your student won't want to do laundry very often but contrary to a teen's belief, sheets do need to be changed so don't wait until Thanksgiving break to come home and ask mom to wash them.

6. Consider buying a mattress pad. Because the college has to outfit so many dorms, it's guaranteed that the mattress has had a few tenants and won't be the most comfortable one you've ever slept on. Make sure you purchase the select the proper depth mattress pad.

7. Take the climate of the school into account. If your student is attending the University of Las Vegas, you might not need a heavy comforter all year round. On the other hand, if he or she is heading to the University of Maine, you might want a comforter as well as a few lighter blankets. I highly suggest a down comforter if your child is heading to a school in a colder climate.

8. Instead of trying to figure out how to put a comforter in the washing machine, consider a duvet cover. It goes over the comforter and usually closes with a zipper or Velcro. When it needs to be washed, just pull the cover off and throw it in the machine. You can get any color comforter on sale and just cover it with a nice solid or printed duvet cover that matches the dorm's dcor.

9. Invest in under-bed storage. During the warmer months, your student can store the comforter along with winter clothes under the bed. Or, they can bring their winter stuff home when they visit. Always leave a fleece throw or two in the dorm, in case the air conditioning is cranked up one day. If they plan to raise their bed with bed risers, purchasing a full or queen size comforter or duvet to accommodate the increased height is an option. Since most dorm room beds are against the wall, you can adjust the bedding to the desired width (side length that is showing). On another note, a queen size comforter (approximately 94 inches long) works best on a raised twin XL bed, a full size comforter (approximately 88 inches long) works best on a raised twin bed.

10. If your student feels it's important to try and coordinate, have him or her get in touch with the roommate(s) before buying bedding.

A few other tips:

  • Dorm living requires many pillows. The right pillow provides a good night's sleep while all those extra pillows turn a bed into a piece of furniture (additional seating) during the day. The best extra pillows are body pillows and/or a backrest pillows. Remember, the dorm room is a complete living space so make use of pillows and remember to order extra pillowcases to coordinate.
  • Check the washing instructions before purchasing bedding. If the comforter is dry clean only, it might not be a good choice for a college dorm.
  • Shop online. You already know what size you'll need, and it's not a big deal if it doesn't match perfectly.
  • If your student has allergies to dust mites, mold or something similar, consider hypoallergenic mattress pads or pillowcase covers.

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