The Best Products For Healthier Non-Toxic Dorm Beds | 2023

January 30, 2023

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Non toxic college dorm beds and bedding

Don’t let the title scare you, this is not a woo-woo article with a bunch of shi-shi recommended products.

In fact, safer non-toxic bedding and textiles are still quite affordable, but you have to work to find the good ones.

As you prepare for college, you’ll find so much cr@p marketed to dorm room shoppers.

Some prices are too good to be true – bed-in-bag sets for $15.99? They won’t make it through 3 cycles in the rough and tumble commercial washing machines in the dorms.

Big 50-100+ piece ‘complete dorm room setups’ are full of cheap and disappointing items, especially the bedding.

And others are even intentionally misleading such as mattress pads marketed as mattress toppers, but they’re just a thin strip of poorly fitting fabric made in a factory far, far away.

Beware the too good to be true prices, especially in dorm room bedding. There are plenty of areas where you can go cheap in a dorm room, but bedding needs to be carefully considered for health purposes. Textiles often contain toxins that you don’t want up against your body day in and day out for a year+.

The good news is that we’ve been through it. We’ve tested and researched several toxin-free options, and we prioritize our recommendations to those Made In America. They’re hard to find, but there are some good 🇺🇸 made goods out there. Keep reading for our recommendations in each category.

You can also see our full list of dorm recommendations in our Complete Dorm Room Essentials Guide.

In This Article:

▶︎ What Size Are Dorm Beds?

▶︎ Comfortable College Dorm Bedding Without Toxins

▶︎ Options For Dorm Headboards

▶︎ Throw Pillows And Blankets For Your Dorm Bed

▶︎ Accessories For Lofted And Bunk Beds

What Size Is A Dorm Bed?

Before we get into the textiles and accessories, let’s talk about buying the correct size for your assigned dorm room.

Many college dorm room beds are Twin XL, but there are certainly exceptions. Some dorm rooms have a standard twin bed. Suite-style dorm rooms with private bedrooms may have full beds. Please check your school website for your dorm bed size.

Twin XL beds are 38″x80″.

80″ is the same length as a Queen or King bed.

But it is the thickness of the mattress that is different for dorm room beds.

Most dorm bed mattresses are quite thin, 5 to 7″ typically, compared to 10-16″ at home.

They’re thin, many have this navy blue fabric around them that hides any stains from their prior lives, and they are not comfortable. At all. And that’s why the layers outlined below are important for making this thin, hard, used mattress more comfortable.

You’ll find the links throughout this article default to dorm bedding Twin XL size, but they are all (usually) available at the same link in other sizes.

Comfortable College Dorm Bedding without toxins

Wrapping your head around college dorm beds can be confusing. Toppers, Pads, Covers, Protectors, Encasements. What do you need and what goes in what order on a college dorm bed? Start by checking out this graphic below, and then we’ll walk you through each dorm bed layer separately with our toxin-free recommendations below.

Layers of a dorm bed
The Layers Of A Dorm Room Bed / How To Make A Dorm Room Bed

Your dorm room bed will take up about 20% of your space, so it is definitely important and often the first priority when shopping for your dorm.

With space at such a premium, plan on these college dorm beds also serving as a hangout/lounge space, a part-time study area, and your personal retreat from the pressures of college. And hopefully not a dining table….

How To Avoid Toxins in Mattress Toppers & Bedding

So many products marketed as college dorm essentials are made in China and full of potentially harmful chemicals. Not all of them, but SO many. You don’t want to be sleeping on toxins for 8 hours a day – in college or at home! Thankfully, there is a movement toward certifying products that use toxin-free materials, and we’ve found many great options that are certified toxin free. All listed below.

Here’s what to look for:

  • For memory foam items such as mattress toppers and pillows, insist on CertiPUR-US® certified products only.
  • For other bed layers and linens, insist on OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified products only.

All of our bedding recommendations below prioritize toxin-free materials and where possible, are Made In The USA. 🇺🇸

Now, let’s build these dorm beds from the bottom up…..

Zippered Mattress Encasement For The Dorm Mattress

Why You Need A Mattress Encasement On A Dorm Room Bed

A zippered mattress encasement creates a sealed-off boundary around the provided (and most likely well-used) dorm mattress and your bedding.

Many choose zippered mattress encasements to seal off any potential bed bugs or bacteria.

What To Look For In A Mattress Encasement For Dorm Beds

  • While harder to find, a 6-9″ thick mattress encasement is best as most mattress are 5-7″ thick. The depth of the encasement is important as you don’t want a bunch of extra material sliding around!
  • Fully enclosed with a zipper.
  • Bed bug and allergen proof. Waterproof is not necessary but is fine to have.
  • No Vinyl, PVC, or Phthalates, or fabric treatments.
  • Machine washable.

Our Recommendation: Hospitology Ultra Low Profile Mattress Encasement

What Is The Best Mattress Topper For Dorm Beds?

Why You Need A Mattress Topper On A Dorm Room Bed

This is THE most crucial item to turn a 5″ thin, hard mattress into a comfortable place to sleep.

What To Look For In A Mattress Topper For a Dorm Room Bed

  • At least 3″ thick to make that thin dorm mattress more comfortable.
  • Certi-PUR US® certified (no harmful toxins or chemicals).
  • Look for Made In The USA if at all possible.
  • You definitely want to get the exact size as your mattress.

Our Recommendation: Sure2Sleep 3″ Mattress Topper – Made In The USA 🇺🇸

Looking for a non-memory foam topper? Check out this OEKO-TEX® certified Down Alternative Mattress Topper.

Mattress Pad aka Mattress Cover

Do You Need A Mattress Pad For A Dorm Bed?

The mattress pad goes over and protects the topper, and the elastic sides go around the topper and under the mattress to keep everything in place.

What To Look For In A Mattress Pad For a Dorm Bed

  • OEKO-TEX® certified (no harmful toxins or chemicals).
  • You don’t need deep pocket, but most cover anywhere from 8″-21″ due to the stretch along the bottom. You’re covering a 5-7″ mattress and 3″ topper, so 8-10″ is really all you need.
  • Ensure you get one with elastic all the way around, not just the corners. The elastic all the way around will help hold it in place.
  • Cooling and breathable.
  • Machine washable.

Our Recommendation: Bedsure Quilted Mattress Pad

If waterproof is a requirement for you, there are mattress pads with waterproofing. Just beware that some of these may ‘crinkle’ with movement. This waterproof mattress protector is noiseless.


Why You Need A Pillow

Everyone needs a pillow. 🙂 And maybe 2 if you have a pillow sham or use 2 for sleeping.

What To Look For In A Dorm Pillow

  • Pillows are so much about personal preference between foam, feathers and fibers.
  • Foam should be Certi-PUR US®certified. All others should be OKEO-TEX® certified.
  • Twin or Twin XL beds are 38″ wide, so a standard pillow (26″ wide) or a queen pillow (30″ wide) will work.

Our Recommendation: This Shredded Memory Foam Pillow With Bamboo Cover

Best Sheets For a Dorm Beds

How Many Sets Of Sheets Do You Need For A Dorm Room Bed?

Everyone needs at least a fitted sheet as part of their college dorm bedding. My boys would argue that a top sheet is not necessary, just a super soft blanket or 5.

You should bring at least 2 sets of sheets to college. One that can be put on the bed while the other set is in the laundry.

What To Look For In A Dorm Bed Sheets

  • OEKO-TEX® certified.
  • You do not need deep pocket – you’ll be covering a 5-7″ mattress and a 3″ topper.
  • Consider these different fabrics:
    • Microfiber – softer, can run warm, most budget-friendly
    • 100% Cotton – crisper than microfiber, cooling
    • Percale – for hot sleepers, percale is crisp, cool and moisture-wicking

Our Recommendations:

Budget-friendly Microfiber Twin XL Sheets

100% Cotton Cooling Twin XL Sheets

Percale Twin XL Sheets

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comforters, duvets and QUIlTS For Dorm Beds

Do You Need A Comforter For A Dorm Bed

This is a personal preference but also take climate into account. You’ll need at least a heavy blanket, but many choose a comforter or a duvet cover with an insert.

What To Look For In Dorm Comforters Or Duvets

  • OEKO-TEX® certified materials.
  • For a Twin XL dorm beds, you’ll want a Twin XL comforter. A Twin bed is 5″ shorter. Some also choose a Full comforter for a Twin XL to allow more fabric to hang down in an effort to ‘hide’ storage under the bed especially if there is a chance for having a Full bed in future years.
  • Machine washable. May need to hang dry.
  • Consider these different fabrics:
    • Microfiber – softer, can run warm, most budget-friendly
    • 100% Cotton – crisper than microfiber, cooling
    • Percale – for hot sleepers, percale is crisp, cool and moisture-wicking

Our Recommendations:

Comforter – UGG Avery Sherpa Comforter or UGG Devon Sherpa Comforter
Comforter – Amazon Basic soft sherpa without the UGG price tag. OEKO-TEX® certified.
Comforter – Pinch pleat/shabby chic comforter – OEKO-TEX® certified.
Quilt – Simple cotton jersey waffle stitched quilt – OEKO-TEX® certified.

Bed Skirts Made For Dorm Beds

Why You Might Want A Bed Skirt On A College Dorm Bed

  • Every college student needs more storage, and a great place for storage is under the bed.
  • In order to keep the room looking neat, a bed skirt is a great way to ‘hide’ what is being stored under the bed.

What To Look For In A Dorm Bedskirt

  • If your bed will be at the lower (typical) height, you will need a bed skirt with split corners in order to accommodate the 4 legs of the dorm bed. You do not want the wrap-around bed skirts which will be the first to come up if you search ‘dorm bed skirt’.
  • For a semi-lofted bed, you can put a wrap-around bed skirt on, but you’ll want the type that has access panels (split sections) to more easily access items stored underneath.
  • Length will vary depending on how high you raise or lower the bed.

Our Recommendation: Check out the bed skirt options at Dorm Co. They have many options including individual panels with ties that allow you to customize which ends and sides will have a bed skirt cover.

Want to be alerted when these bedding items go on sale?
Join our Dorm Shopping Recommendations And Deal Alerts Facebook group.

We’re monitoring all of the products in this article and about 300 other dorm room essentials every day for sales and price drops.

You’ll also have access to our community of dorm shoppers for questions and ideas.

What Are Options For Dorm Headboards

Actual Twin Headboard (attach legs with zip ties)

Why Consider Headboards For Dorm Beds

Dorm beds do not have headboards, and you’ll want something between your pillow and a concrete wall. Do not use these for fully lofted or bunked beds – you’ll need the feet on the floor as you will use simple zip ties to attach the legs to the legs of the bed.

What To Look For In A Headboard

  • The width of Twin and Twin XL beds are the same, so a headboard for a dorm Twin XL will need a Twin sized headboard.
  • You’ll need zip ties to attach the headboards to dorm beds. You can find how to videos on YouTube.

Our Recommendations:

White Faux Leather Twin Headboard (faux leather = easy to clean)

Linen Fabric Twin Headboard (comes in 4 colors)

DORM Headboard Pillow

Why Consider A Headboard Pillow On Your Dorm Room Bed

If you don’t use an actual twin headboard, this is another option to provide a barrier between you and the wall. This is a good option for a lofted bed. My son has this exact pillow headboard which can be seen in the picture below.

pillow headboard on dorm bed
A pillow headboard is an easy headboard solution for dorm beds.

What To Look For In A Headboard Pillow

  • Removable machine washable cover.
  • The recommendation below is 26″ high – be sure you choose one high enough to comfortably support the student when leaning against it.

Our Recommendation (the pillow headboard in the picture above): Dorm headboard pillow

Headboard Triangular Wedge Pillow

Why Consider A Triangular Wedge Pillow As A Dorm Headboard

Another pillow option for the something between your pillow and the wall. This is another good for a lofted bed.

While the twin-sized wedge pillow works well as a headboard, a longer wedge pillow (the one linked here is available in Full, Queen and King) can also serve to convert your bed into a ‘sofa’ during the day by putting the longer pillow lengthwise on the wall on the length of the bed.

What To Look For In A Wedge Pillow

Check the sizes. The recommended pillow below is 39x8x20(high) for the Twin, so this will go across the entire bed, but be a little shorter than the headboard pillow above.

Our Recommendations: This wedge pillow is highly rated and comes in many colors and sizes.

Husband Pillow (Backrest with arms)

Why Consider A Husband Pillow For A Dorm Room Bed

This is probably too big to stay on the bed when sleeping, but it has great height for sitting up working or reading in bed.

What To Look For In A Husband Pillow

  • Removable machine washable cover.
  • A headrest to add height and head support.

Our Recommendations:

This is the XXL husband pillow which sits up 34″. There is also a medium size husband pillow that is 30″ high.

Throw Pillows and Blankets For Your Dorm Bed

(these need to be sorted/combined for dupes – put all throw pillows together, put blankets together)

Throw Pillow with School Name

Why You Need Throw Pillows On Your Dorm Bed

These make an easy and spirited accent piece for a dorm room.

What To Look For In A Throw Pillow

Check your school bookstore or order one through Etsy.

Our Recommendations: These custom college throw pillows are available in different sizes and as cover only or cover + insert.

Faux Fur Fleece Throw Pillow Covers

Why You May Want Throw Pillows On Your Dorm Bed

  • Soft fluffy pillows are always a comforting addition to a bed.
  • While a fluffy rug is definitely not recommended, these pillow covers can be machine washed.

What To Look For In Throw Pillows

  • Machine washable.
  • Determine if pillow inserts are included or sold separately.

Our Recommendations: Pair of faux fir pillow covers. Pillow inserts sold separately.

Cozy throw blanket

Why Throw Blankets Are A Must Have On Dorm Beds

Naps and late-night studying are best done outside of the covers but with a cozy blanket.

They’re great for a chair or futon as well.

What To Look For In A Throw Blanket

  • OEKO-TEX® certified.
  • Machine washable.
  • 50×60 is a good sized throw blanket. A twin XL bed is 39×80 for reference.

Our Recommendations: This soft fleece throw blanket comes in many colors and sizes.

Customized school and name throw blanket

Why You May Want A Custom Throw Blanket For Your Dorm Room

Anything with their name on it will stay in their room.

What To Look For In A Customized Throw Blanket

Our Recommendations: This soft blanket with school name and student name.

Weighted blanket

Why A College Student May Need A Weighted Blanket

According to, weighted blankets take their inspiration from a therapeutic technique called deep pressure stimulation, which uses firm, controlled pressure to induce a feeling of calm. The benefits of using a weighted blanket include:

  • Provide comfort and security
  • Ease stress and soothe anxiety
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Calm the nervous system

What To Look For In A Weighted Blanket For A College Student

  • OEKO-TEX® certified.
  • The weight of the blanket should be approximately 10% of body weight.
  • Size recommendation is 48×72. This will cover a twin-width bed and leave about 5″ over each side.
  • Machine washable cover.

Our Recommendation: This sherpa fleece weighted blanket available in many weights and colors.

Accessories For Lofted Or Bunk Beds

Step stool to reach a raised bed/high closet shelf

Why You Need A Step Stool In A Dorm Room

Most dorm beds can be raised to accommodate the provided dresser and other storage below. Most take advantage of this to create more usable space. But this puts the bed into ‘jumping’ distance from the floor…if you’re a tall student!

A step stool is NOT a solution for a fully lofted or upper bunk bed. Those will require a ladder which should be provided by the college.

A step stool will be useful throughout college for high cabinets, installing window covers, hanging decor, etc.

What To Look For In A Dorm Step Stool

  • Ability to fold away.
  • Anti-slip/rubber feet.
  • 13 or 16″ height depending on height of student and height of bed.
  • Maximum weight is more than the student weighs! The one linked here is 300lbs.

Our Recommendations: This sturdy step stool is perfect for a dorm room.


Why You May Need A BedShelfie on Your Dorm Bed

For those in a fully lofted or upper bunk bed, a BedShelfie is a great option for a ‘nightstand’.

You’ll need something like this to store your phone or alarm clock, a book, a water bottle, chapstick, etc next to your bed.

What To Look For In A BedShelfie

  • Sturdiness.
  • Easy, no-tool installation.
  • Note the different models to determine which is best for your needs.

Our Recommendation: The BedShelfie is a very popular dorm room essential. It is available in white, bamboo and black. Visit the BedShelfie store to see all of the variations available.

Bedside Caddy

Why You May Need A Bedside Caddy On Your Dorm Bed

A more affordable option for bedside storage on an upper bed.

Bedside caddies fold over the bed frame railing.

What To Look For In A Bedside Caddy

There are also multiple sizes, designs and colors for these. Some include a cup holder pocket.

Our Recommendation: This bedside caddy with size and pocket options.

Clip-On Bed Lamp

Why You Need A Clip-On Bed Lamp On A Raised Bed

For safety purposes, a lamp to help you find the way in the dark.

What To Look For In A Clip-On Bed Lamp

  • LED bulb – less heat conduction and lasts thousands of hours
  • Adjustable brightness
  • Adjustable light color

Our Recommendation: This clip-on lamp with 10 brightness options and 3 color option that can be plugged into a USB port or a standard outlet.

Bed Rail for Lofted or Bunk Beds

Why You Need A Bed Rail In A Dorm Room

EVERY lofted bed or top bunk absolutely needs a bed rail. Please see for more information.

What To Look For In A Bed Rail

Before you buy your own, check with your school to see if they offer bed rails. They really should be provided, but if not, we have a recommended product below.

Our Recommendations:

Our Recommendation: This width-adjustable bed rail.

Get The Info On All The College Dorm Room Essentials

  • You can see our full list of dorm recommendations in our Complete Dorm Room Essentials Guide.
  • Our Dorm Shopping Recommendations and Deal Alerts Facebook group will let you know when these dorm essentials go on sale and also provide a community of like-minded dorm shoppers with great questions and answers!
  • Want to know when new content goes live here on Positively Squared Away? Just register to receive our emails – we promise not to send them more frequently than once per week.

We’d love your feedback on this article – please leave us a comment.

And please feel free to share this article with your other dorm shopping friends. Thank you!

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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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