Dorm IQ #6 | The Best Comforter Size For A Twin XL Dorm Bed

January 27, 2024

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Dorm IQ Learning Series - Best Comforter Size For Twin XL Dorm Bed

After managing the Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook group through 2 dorm shopping seasons now, I have not been surprised that bedding is one of the most frequently discussed topics. What has been surprising is the number of people asking about the best comforter size for their Twin XL dorm bed. So after a lot of discussion in the group and some real life experience, we collected the pros and cons of the comforter size options for a Twin XL dorm mattress and outline those for you below.

Know Your Dorm Mattress Size

Most* college dorms are furnished with Twin XL beds. The ‘XL’ stands for extra long, and the mattress measures 38 inches wide by 80 inches long. This is the same width but 5 inches longer than a standard Twin bed. The extra length is designed to accommodate taller students and makes this bed the same length as a Queen or King mattress.

* Note that this MOST. In the 2023 dorm shopping season, we saw a lot more Full, Full XL and even regular Twin size dorm beds. Please don’t make assumptions, know before you shop!

mattress size comparison graphic

Which Dorm Bedding Must Be The SAME SIZE As The Mattress

As discussed in Topic 3 – How To Layer A Dorm Bed, your mattress encasement (optional), mattress topper and mattress pad all MUST match the dorm mattress size.

The blankets and comforter are where you have some flexibility.

Why Comforter Size Matters

Selecting the right dorm bed comforter isn’t just about warmth and aesthetics; it’s about cost, comfort and functionality. Reusability after year one, room setup, ease of making the bed and sleep habits are all factors in this decision.

Standard mattress sizes are shown in the graphic above. Please see below for the range of comforter dimensions by bed size.

Comparison of comforter dimensions by dorm bed size

Let’s Do The Comforter Width Math

Figuring the right comforter size for Twin XL beds takes a little math. Wait until you see the math we use to figure out the right rug size for your dorm! (coming soon)

  • A TwinXL mattress is about 38″ wide.
  • A TwinXL comforter is about 68″ wide which allows about 15″ length on each side which should cover the mattress, mattress topper and horizontal bed rail.
  • A Queen comforter is about 86″-90″ wide which allows about 25″ length on each side which should cover about 10″ below the horizontal bed rail.

How To Determine The Right Comforter Size For Your Twin XL Bed

1) Dorm Comforter Reusability After Freshman Year

Does your school require on-campus living throughout college? Is it all the same bed/mattress size for multiple years? If you’ll be staying on campus year after year in a Twin XL bed, then an investment in a good Twin XL comforter may make sense.

Do students typically go off-campus after freshman year? What are the off-campus housing options for sophomore through senior year? You’ll probably find a mix of furnished and unfurnished options.

If off-campus housing is likely after freshman year, you’ll likely have a larger bed in a private bedroom. Using a larger comforter your freshman year means it could be used again for off-campus life after the dorm.

Please keep in mind though that many items used freshman year, especially bedding and rugs, may have such a rough year (“I never did find the laundry room, mom”) that you won’t want to reuse them. You may not even want to put these items in your car in May when its time to pack up to head back home. 🙂

REUSABILITY: If you will only stay one year in a dorm and move to off-campus housing, you might consider a larger size comforter for reusability purposes. You won’t be able to reuse your Twin XL sheets, mattress pad and mattress topper though.

2) Bed Height And Comforter size

If you will be raising your dorm bed to wisely utilize the space below the dorm mattress for copious storage, you may want to consider a larger comforter size so that the sides hang down further and cover some of that storage. Rest assured, that under bed storage will look neat and organized on move-in day, but there’s definitely something to be said for having it covered up for the rest of the school year. 🙂

For a typical raised dorm bed (at the top height of an adjustable frame), you should have about 30″ of clearance for storage below the mattress. That’s typical, but please check with your school for actual measurements and dimensions.

To fully cover the area below your dorm bed, you can also use long bed skirt panels or even inexpensive curtains! We’ll have an upcoming Dorm IQ module to show you how to do this.

If you plan to fully loft the bed or will be in an upper bunk, your decision is made. Go with a Twin/Twin XL comforter. You won’t want to deal with all of the extra fabric of a larger comforter and the bed safety rail or hanging in front of the space below the bed. Please join us in insisting that high dorm bed safety rails are mandatory even if the University doesn’t mandate this (yet).

BED HEIGHT: If your bed will be fully lofted or a top bunk, choose a Twin/Twin XL comforter. If you will have a lower bed, consider a larger comforter to partially cover your below bed storage, or a Twin/Twin XL comforter over a bedskirt that will fully cover your below bed storage space.

A queen comforter on a raised Twin XL dorm bed.

3) Functionality Considerations

While you can see some of the obvious benefits of a larger comforter for a Twin XL dorm bed, consider these points.

1) Will a longer comforter add one more barrier to making the bed since it is bigger and more cumbersome?

2) Will a longer comforter that hangs down in front of the storage become an annoyance moving it out of the way to get to drawers and other storage under the bed?

3) If the bed will not be up against a wall, a larger comforter will have the tendency to slide off of one side of the bed, but that can be managed with bed clips if necessary.

4) Consider laundering your comforter. Those commercial dorm washing machines can be on the small side, so it may be difficult to wash a larger comforter while on campus.

DAY TO DAY: If the points above aren’t concerning to you, a larger comforter may be a good choicee.

4) Sleep Habits

We have many members in our Dorm Shopping Group who tell us their kids don’t use a comforter at home and probably won’t at school. My son is one of these – he’s all about sleeping under a soft, fluffy blanket and only has a comforter at home to make the bed look made! I did buy him an inexpensive Twin XL comforter so that his bed would look made in college too!

If your student is resisting a comforter or will kick it off because they sleep hot, go with a lightweight Twin XL size if you decide to send a comforter anyway.

Students who move a lot in their sleep may be better off with a larger comforter to keep them covered. It is pretty easy to wriggle out from under a Twin width comforter.

This might be a sensitive subject, but if your student might share their bed with a friend at times, a bigger comforter will be a much better choice. Two people under a twin width comforter would be a struggle. You know, just in case their BFF comes to visit from another college.

Boy dorm room at auburn university with twin comforter size for a twin xl bed
My son’s side of his dorm room at Auburn University.

Making the Decision

There is no right answer to the best sized comforter for a Twin XL dorm bed. After reading through the considerations above, you’ll need to make the best decision for your situation. If you want to see examples of the different sizes on many dorm beds, you can visit the Dorm Shopping Recommendations group and visit this post to see the many pictures in the comments. You’ll need to request membership to the group if you are not already a member.

If you decide to go with Twin/Twin XL, aim for a comforter that is at 86″ long, or better yet, 90″. The Twin XL mattress is 80″ long.

Decided To Go Larger? Should You Go With Full or Queen?

If you decide to go with a larger size, I strongly recommend a Queen size over a Full for 2 reasons.

1) A Queen mattress is the same length as the Twin XL. A Full mattress is 5″ shorter – the same length as a regular Twin. The extra. length of a Queen will help cover the length of your Twin XL dorm bed.

2) For future years in off-campus housing, both Full and Queen beds are common, with Full XL becoming more popular as well. Or you may need to furnish your apartmet. Regardless of bed size, a Queen comforter will fit whether you end up with a Full, Full XL or Queen.

Comforter or Quilt Or Duvet For Your dorm Bed

Ok, you’ve decided on the size, now what type of bed cover is the best for your dorm room? This is another personal decision and all 3 are commonly used.

Regardless of the choice, be sure that your selection is OEKO-TEX® certified. This certification ensures there are no toxins in the materials. With so much of our bedding coming from factories overseas with limited regulations, you want to be sure your student is sleeping safely while in college.

See the list below of affordable recommended OEKO-TEX® certified bedding. All are highly rated.

See our full Dorm Essentials Shopping Guide for more bedding information as well as every other category for your dorm room.


Choosing the right comforter size for a Twin XL dorm bed is a balance of practicality, comfort, and style. I hope the information above has helped you to narrow in on which size you prefer for your dorm bed.

Have Questions?

Still have questions? Please comment below, or come ask us in the Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook group. So much great info in the group along with hundreds, maybe thousands, of move-in pictures from 2023 to give you ideas and inspiration.

=> Please share this article with your dorm bound friends and their parents. I would love for everyone to understand the topics in Dorm IQ before they start dorm shopping!

Next Topic

How to measure and layout storage options and maximize space below your raised dorm bed. Coming soon!

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Important Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, a lawyer or a financial advisor. Please use this content as informational only and as only one input as you consider what options are best for you and your family. This is not professional advice.

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