Packing up your life and moving to a college dorm can be one of the most unsettling, daunting, and formidable life experiences a student can have. Whether you’re a freshman or a parent sending their kid off, having your dorm room checklist set up ahead of time will help.
Let’s be honest: going away to college for the first time is scary. Different questions might be going through your mind like, “what do I bring?” It might feel a bit overwhelming when you are walking through a department store or shopping online with college dorm essentials all around you.
To spare you the back-and-forth rides to your local supermarket and last-minute errands, we gathered for you the ultimate dorm room checklist all your friends will want to snatch.
Here is a dorm room checklist of all the essentials you will need.
When you are shopping for your dorm essentials for your bedroom, you might feel that getting a cute lamp or a stylish comforter will make your time in college fun and organized. However, that might not help you when you’re living on your own for your first time.
Having the essentials in your bedroom will help you transition into living in a college in no time.
Doing laundry in dorm rooms can be frustrating. You usually need to wait for the next available washer or dryer. When you finally get an empty washer, you might see that they are dirty or not taken care of properly.
Another annoying thing about using the college dorm room washers and dryers is that you need to PAY to do your laundry.
That’s why we suggest minimizing the urgency of doing laundry by having extras of what you need. If space allows it, have some extra towels and sheets to put some time between your laundry adventures.
Foam Mattress Topper
If you haven’t heard, college dorm rooms have uncomfortable beds. They make you lay awake at night, tossing and turning. Those sleepless nights will make you miss your early classes.
One thing we recommend is a foam mattress topper. Most dorms come with an extra long twin bed. There aren’t any fancy beds to match how you like to sleep at night. Take care of yourself by investing in a foam topper. It can make your bed feel like a cloud.
Memory Foam Pillows
If you want your head to be comfortable at night, check out our reviews of the best memory foam pillows. Sleeping on this will leave you with a better night’s sleep and the feeling of being well rested.
Part of the college dorm experience is to learn to tolerate your roommate. This might result in you changing your sleeping pattern. Your roommate might be a night owl while you are an early bird.
To deal with this struggle, consider using a sleep mask. It will help when all the lights are on in your room but you want to sleep. If you are unsure what type of sleep mask to get, check out our reviews of the best sleep masks.
Other Checklist Items
Here are some more items to help you get a good night’s sleep:
- A thin blanket for summer
- A heavy blanket for fall
- Multiple bedspreads
- Soft linen sheets
- Mattress pad, preferably waterproof
- Extra Pillowcases
Room Storage and Necessities
Forget about what you see on TV or the movies — dorm rooms are tiny.
You’ll probably have a small closet, a dresser, a bed, and a desk on your side of the room. If you’re lucky, you’ll also have a couple of shelves and some storage built into the bed. After you see your dorm in person and taking measurements, shop for some smart storage solutions.
You don’t have a lot of space in your dorm, so make the best of it with options like:
If you have clothes or shoes that you do not want to leave home, you can place your favorite blouse in these bins.
Many people might think you should put as much stuff as possible in your storage bin, but that does not keep it organized. If your container is neat, it will be easier to find items. There is nothing worse than having a disorganized and scattered mess under your bed!
Most dorm rooms are small, so space is limited. Another great storage item is a rolling cart! It fits anywhere in your tiny dorm room, and you can style it to your liking.
You can put your clothes, shoes, or even food in it! If you need extra storage for your books and school supplies, this would be the perfect purchase.
Other Dorm Room Essentials
Here are other items for your checklist of room storage items and other similar necessities:
- Bedside lamp
- Bulletin board
- Comfy chair
- Hot & Cold Fan Heater
- Jewelry organizer
- Small mirror and full-length mirror
- Trash can
Toiletries and Hygiene
When you stay in a college dorm, you’re not a guest. This means that you have to bring hygiene products.
Find a waterproof shower caddy. Use it to store your shampoo and conditioner, hairbrush, shower cap, and anything else you like to have in the shower with you.
If you prefer a bar soap over bath gel, get a plastic case for the soap.
Most dorms have a communal bathroom on their floor instead of private bathrooms. You might not be the biggest fan of walking around in a towel in front of a bunch of strangers in the bathroom. Bathrobes are an easy thing to make you feel more comfortable.
It will make you feel less “naked” and more confident when you are going back and forth from the bathroom. If you want, get a bathrobe that is towel material so you can dry off faster or a robe that is fuzzy that you can sleep in at night.
Private Bathroom Items
Of course, if you do have a private bathroom, you’ll need some essentials. These include:
- Air freshener -Poo-Pourri
- Bathroom cleaning products
- Hanging shower organizer
- Shower curtain and rings
- Shower rug
- Extra soft toilet paper
Here are more hygiene items to consider. You can keep several of them in your shower caddy if you need to:
- Bath soap
- Face moisturizer
- Bath towels
- Flip-flops – Shower Shoes
- Hair styling tools
- Nail clippers and tweezers
- Men’s Razor & Shaving Cream
- Women’s Razor
- Sanitary pads and tampons
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Sunscreen and SPF lip balm
- Toiletry bag (read our toiletry bag reviews of the best options on the market)
- Antibacterial gel
To save on space and packing time, you can buy enough toiletries for one semester at a time.
Top Tip: If you want to save on space, consider getting travel hair tools like one of the best travel blow dryers.
Electronics are an essential part of the college experience.
Don’t rely on the clock on your cell phone alone. You’ll quickly learn why if you lose your phone, it breaks, or the battery dies in the middle of the night and you miss that 8:30 a.m. class.
An alarm clock does not have a bright screen like a smartphone. It’s better for your sleep schedule to get an alarm clock that will only show you the time and not the notifications you are getting on social media. Right now, if you are afraid you are going to sleep through your alarm clocks, try using the digital one and your smartphone! Companies are now creating products that compliment both products.
Most smartphones can wake you up, but do they have the functionality of the best alarm clocks? Most likely not!
Don’t forget these essential items on your dorm room checklist:
- Phone Chargers
- Extension Surge Protector Cords
- Noise Canceling Headphones
- Portable speaker
- Laptop (also check out our top five best laptops for college students)
- Laptop case
- USB flash drives
One of the most satisfying moments of laundry time is feeling the soft, clean, and warm fabric of clothes as soon as they’re out of the dryer. Simply amazing.
For a mess-free laundry, here is what you should have:
- Clothes hangers
- Drying rack
- Fabric softener
- Laundry basket
- Laundry detergent
- Sewing kit
- Stain remover
You can buy your desk supplies before you get to your college. Or, if you want college-branded materials, you might want to wait to shop at your university’s store.
Here are office items to get:
- Backpack with Laptop Holder
- Binders and folders
- Desk Lamp
- Desk trays
- Notebooks and notepads
- Pencils and pens
- Pencil / pen case
- Planner and calendar
- Hydro Flask water bottle
- Hydro Flask Coffee Holder
- Sticky notes
- Scotch Tape
From bras to footwear, here is what you should pack in your college suitcase:
- Bras and underwear – Shop @ Victoria Secret
- Business clothes – Shop @ Nordstroms
- Coat and raincoat – Shop @ REI
- Hat, gloves, scarf, belt – Shop @ Patagonia
- Jewelry – Shop @ Macys
- Sweats – Shop @ Lulu Lemon
- Light and heavy jackets – Shop @ Backcountry
- Pajamas and slippers – Buy @ Revolve
- Shoes (boots, sneakers, sandals, dress shoes) – Buy @ Zappos
- Swimsuit and beach towel – Shop @ PacSun
- T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts – Shop @ Bloomingdales
- Watch – Buy @ Nixon
Even though you’ll have access to the cafeteria for your meals, you’re going to get hungry when that cafeteria is closed. Most dorms have a kitchen with a fridge, stove, and oven, so you probably won’t have to worry about buying any of those.
Instead, buy a few simple items and appliances to keep you from going hungry during those late nights studying.
If you want to eat ramen, pasta, or drink tea or make instant coffee, it can sometimes be as easy as adding hot water! Having a portable electric kettle on hand will make you the most popular person on your dorm floor.
You can host hot chocolate parties or even ramen noodle parties! It sounds like a lot of fun.
Unless your college dorm has a kitchen, you will not need any appliances or tools. But you do need a countertop microwave for the meals that you can quickly heat on the go or making yourself a delicious potato and topping it with delicious toppings.
Your college might offer a microwave in your dorm room. If it doesn’t, this is a wise investment for you and your roommate.
Other Kitchen Items
The kitchen is more than just a snacking station; it’s also one of the first places one heads to when looking for comfort. Here is what you need to make it inviting:
- Can opener with bottle opener
- Energy bars
- Dustpan & Broom
- Food-storage containers
- Coffee maker
- Microwave, if allowed
- Mini fridge, if allowed
- Paper Towels
College dorms aren’t just about the necessities. They also need to feel like a home away from home.
Unleash your creativity and decorate the room as you like using:
- Posters & Wall Art – Buy @ Art.com
- Frames and pictures – Buy @ Michales
- Hobby items: art supplies, musical instruments and so on – Buy @ Hobby Lobby
- College Gear – Buy @ Lids
Other Items for Your Dorm Room Checklist
These uncategorized items can make the difference between a well-furnished dorm room and a basic one:
- All-purpose cleaner
- Aspirin or ibuprofen
- Bandages and Band-Aids
- First aid kit
- Pepper spray (check if legal in your state)
Always remember, if you have a roommate, make sure your stuff doesn’t bother them and isn’t too intrusive into your shared space. For the more expensive supplies, like the microwave or mini fridge, you can ask if they’d like to split up the cost and the use.
Top Tip: Before you start to stock your dorm, check out what your college already provides by going onto the housing area of the school’s website or by paying a personal visit. This way, you won’t buy or bring anything the school provides.
Before you move into the dorm room, use this list to make sure you don’t forget any of the essentials.