Tips for the Best Shower Caddy in College

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Originally published August 11, 2017 and updated June 20, 2022. The original post was sponsored by Collective Bias, Inc. and LISTERINE. All opinions are mine alone.

Confused about which is the best shower caddy for college? These more than 60 tips and recommended products will help you find the best college shower caddy for your needs.

Being confident in college starts with feeling comfortable living in your dorm. Living in a dorm with a shared bathroom takes some getting used to. I’ve sent two of my “babies” off to college. One of them had a down-the-hall bathroom and one had a bathroom she shared with three roommates. With their experiences and my mom advice, we’ve come up with these tips for the best college shower caddy to make dorm living manageable and the college experience more enjoyable.

close up of shower caddy with stack of colorful washcloths

Having a shower caddy that works best for you encompasses the caddy, the contents and more. The key is tips for the best shower caddy for you in a college dorm.  You want a caddy that stays clean and sanitary so that you can stay clean and fresh. These are simple tips that make a big impact. 

Tips for the Best Shower Caddy

Chose a Durable Caddy

overhead view of empty shower caddy with personal care items and stack of washcloths next to it.

For the best shower caddy for college, my daughters prefer a durable hard plastic caddy. We’ve found that the soft collapsible caddies only last about a year.

Consider Having Two Caddies

If you have the space to store two caddies, have one caddy for shower items and one for dental and face care items. It makes it easier to carry just the items you need when you head to the bathroom.

Have a Toothbrush Cover

toothbrush with cover and toothpaste next to empty shower caddy.

Use a toothbrush cover at all times when your toothbrush is in your caddy.

My daughter who had a down-the-hall bathroom in her dorm, had a shelf where everyone stored their shower caddies. My daughter’s friend inexplicably found blood (not hers) on her toothbrush one day. Shiver.

My other daughter had a bathroom that she shared with three roommates. The bathroom was so tiny that the only place to store their shower caddies was on a shelf tower over the toilet. Studies have shown that droplets from the toilet travel at least six feet from the toilet when you flush it. Ugh. Always use a toothbrush cover. 

Use a Carabiner or Zip Tie to Hang Your Shower Caddy

Attach a hanger or hook to your shower caddy handle so that you can hang it from the shower rod when you take a shower. This makes it easier to access your shower items in a small shared shower space. You want a hanger that can easily be attached to the shower rod and then removed after your shower. 

You can use these household items as a hook:

  • Zip Tie
  • Carabiner
  • S Hook from the Hardware Store
  • Binder Ring
top image of rings and rubber ties, bottom image - red ring attached to handle of shower caddy.

Have a Wash Cloth for Each Day

stack of colorful wash cloths on white wood table.

Your wash cloth has the same chances of getting dirty as your toothbrush. Use a new wash cloth each day to make sure it remains clean and sanitary. A stack of five to ten wash cloths won’t take up much room and are easy to wash. 

Frequently Asked Questions about the best shower caddies

Are you ready to head off to college or sending some off to college? Be sure check out LISTERINE® at Target while you’re setting up the best shower caddy for your college dorm room

What should a college shower caddy have?

  • Drainage holes
  • Sturdy handle
  • Made from mildew resistant materials
  • Enough storage space for all your bathroom items
  • Main compartment
  • Side pockets
  • A shape that provides easy access to the contents
  • Sturdy enough to stand up on its own


Do you need a shower caddy for college?

  • It depends on personal habits and college dorms or living arrangements.
  • If you will have a private bathroom, you may not need one. However, there may not be enough space to store shower essentials and personal care items in the bathroom.
  • If you will be using a shared bathroom (with 1-4 other people), you may be able to keep your shower essentials in the bathroom, but you’ll probably need to store most of your items in your dorm room.
  • If you will be using a communal bathroom, you’ll have to store your items in your dorm room. Even if there is a storage shelf in the bathroom, experience recommends you do not leave your personal items unattended in the communal hall bathroom.

Is a mesh or plastic shower caddy better for college?

  • It’s really a matter of personal preference and space.
  • A mesh tote can be collapsed to fit into a tight storage space better than hard side plastic shower caddies.
  • You should also consider that often plastic portable shower caddies stand up better without falling over than mesh shower totes.
  • The handle of a plastic caddy can also serve to hold hand towels and wash cloths.
  • It can be easier to hang mesh shower totes from suction cups or wall hooks.
  • You should also consider the common products you’ll keep in your dorm shower caddy and which style will best accommodate those products.
  • If you’ll be keeping full-sized bottles in the caddy, make sure it’s sturdy enough to handle the weight.

Top Picks for the Best Shower Caddy

The best shower caddy is the one that meets your unique needs. Think about your needs and preferences:

  • Do you use many different products?
  • What size and weight of bottles do you use?
  • Do you have many small items?
  • Do you need carry body wash and a shower pouf or a wash cloth?
  • Will you also carry beauty products?
  • Do you prefer outer pockets or side mesh pockets on a shower bag?
  • Do you prefer a plastic caddy with one easy access compartment or several compartments?

Make a list of the products you’ll want to keep in your dorm shower caddy:

  • Soap or shower gel
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner or detangler
  • Razor
  • Shaving cream
  • Shower shoes
  • Face moisturizer
  • Body lotion
  • Hairbrush
  • Hairdryer
  • Hairspray
  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton swabs
  • Nail scissors
  • Nail polish
  • Wash cloth, loofah or shower puff
  • Specialized shower products
  • Face wash
  • Shower cap
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Comb
  • Hairstyling tools
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup remover
  • Makeup
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail file
  • Nail polish remover

Consider where you will store and use the toiletry bag:

  • In the shower area
  • In a private bathroom
  • In a shared bathroom with a few people
  • In your dorm room
  • In a communal bathroom
  • In a hall bathroom

Once you determine your preferences, your needs and the limitations of your college dorm room, then you can choose the best option for your.

The images below are clickable Amazon product links.

Plastic Bathroom Caddy

white plastic shower caddy with bottles and poufs.
empty white plastic shower caddy with grey handle.
grey plastic shower basket filled with bottles and a shower pouf.
light green plastic mesh basket filled with a towel and bottle.
grey shower basket with bottles, razor and wood comb.
pink plastic caddy with silver handle, filled with razon, bottles and lotion tubes.

Consider whether you’d prefer one or two handles.

white plastic basket with 2 grey handles filled with towel and bottles.
pink plastic basket with 2 handles and heart cutouts and filled with toiletries.
blue plastic basket with silver handle holidng 2 bottles.

The middle product below is a bathroom caddy with a lock. This can be useful in a shared bathroom.

black plastic basket with tall handles and holding toiletries.
white locker box holding toiletries with door open.
white plastic mesh basket with light wood handle with white towel and bottles.

Mesh Shower Caddy Tote

Mesh shower totes with small outer compartments are a popular choice in college dorms. Look for options with reinforced handles.

grey mesh tote with pockets and handle.
black mesh tote with handle and pockets, filled with toiletries.
green mesh totel with pockets adn 1 handle.

Mesh caddies come in many different colors, in different shapes, with different sizes of mesh compartments and with either one or two handles.

red and grey mesh tote with white towel and toiletries bottles.
black and blue mesh tote bag with pockets and handle.
cylindrical white and blue mesh tote with blue handle.

A hanging toiletry bag can be a good option.

white mesh hanging caddy holding toiletries.
3 black mesh drawstring bags, 1 with bottles.
black mesh bag with 2 hanging hooks, filled with toiletries.

A bathroom caddy that hangs from the shower curtain can be a a good choice if you don’t have much space in your college dorm room.

white mesh storage bag hanging from rod and holding toiletries.
long narrow white and blue mesh storage bag filled with shampoo bottles.
black mesh bag with pockets holding toiletries and hanging from rod.

There are options that can also work in a gym bag.

zippered black mesh tote bag with zipper and filled with toiletries.
rectangular mesh bag with zipper and handles.
3 mesh zippered bags in different colors holding toiletries.

Be sure to pin these tips for the best shower caddy for college so you can easily find it again when you need it.


More Tips for College

Top College Tips for Success – 40+ Tips for College Success for students and parents. Everything you need to know to prepare your student and your family for college.

courtyard in front of large stone college buidling.

7 Simple Tips for College – Entering college is both exciting and daunting. These 7 simple tips for college freshman are no-cost and will help make college life easier, more organized, better and more enjoyable.

shower caddy filled with items, stack of neatly folded clothes, folded jeans in a basket.

Dorm Move-In Day Tips – Dorm Move-In Day doesn’t have to be stressful or painful. Use these tips for parents to make college move-in day easier. I’ve moved my daughter into her dorm twice by myself and these tips are a huge help

car trunk filled with boxes, bags and bins for moving.

 You can find all our best college tips in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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9 Comments

  1. I didn’t know Listerine had a zero alcohol mouthwash, that’s good to know. That is so gross about blood on the toothbrush! It’s a smart idea to have a toothbrush cover and a caddy to carry your things back and forth, if needed. Those washcloth colors are really pretty. I like how there’s a different color for every day.

  2. These are great tips – practical and useful! I still shudder thinking about the shared bathroom in my freshman year door… eek! #client

    1. Me, too, Stephanie, me, too! It’s crazy that as parents we pay exorbitant prices for our “babies” to live in substandard housing called college dorms. (ah, but that’s a future post).

  3. The Carabiner tip is awesome! And I love the idea of color-coding wash cloths for days. And the tip for covering the toothbrush is so smart – especially in a dorm setting. Thanks for these great tips!

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