Dorm Room Essentials Checklist

Whether it's your first year at college or you're sending your freshman off, this list of dorm room essentials and supplies is the place to start.

girl arriving at college with her parents
Photo: kali9

When it comes to creating a college packing list, it's extremely easy to get overwhelmed trying to determine what you need to bring. Streamline by skipping the cute dorm decor at the start and check off these room essentials instead to be sure you have all the basics covered.

And keep in mind: Nearly just as important as things on this list are the things that aren't. For example, before hauling that printer to campus, think about how practical it really is. Colleges nowadays not only have printing labs, but most have wireless printing systems across campus.


  • Phone charging dock

    You'll need the alarm set and your phone propped close to make that 8 a.m. biology class.

  • Bed linens

    Bring your own comforter, sheets, and pillow(s). You may want to have two sets of linens—laundry tends to pile up! Note: Check whether the dorms have regular twin or extra-long twin beds.

  • Clothes hangers

    Bring just one type of hanger, and your closet will look more orderly.

  • Clothing

    There's only so much room in a dorm closet, so pack just enough clothing to make it from one laundry day to the next.

  • Computer

    You'll be on your computer a lot and a laptop is best for toting to and from class. Make sure to bring appropriate software.

  • Desk lamp

    Essential for late-night cramming while your roommate is sleeping.

  • Television

    It can't be too large or powerful if you'll be sharing a dorm room with others. Contact your roommate(s) before moving in and coordinate who will bring what so you don't end up with two TVs.

  • Laundry basket

    The lighter the better, as you might have a long walk to the laundry room.

  • Posters, pictures, and other decorations

    You want your dorm room to have a bit of personality, so bring along some artwork, pictures of family and friends, or a tapestry.

  • Storage boxes and stackable crates

    Great for stowing things under your dorm room bed or in a little-used corner.


  • Bath linens

    Bring your own washcloth and towels. Two sets are better than one.

  • Bathrobe

    A must-have for the trip to the bathroom.

  • Flip-flops

    Shower shoes are essential for anyone who shares a public bathroom.

  • Shower tote

    It's much easier to transport your toiletries to the bathroom in a handy carrier.


  • Appliances

    Find out what appliances you are permitted to have in your dorm room (such as a toaster oven), and coordinate with your roommate(s).

  • Dishes, glasses, and utensils

    Even if you'll be eating most of your meals in the on-campus dining hall, it's nice to have these on hand.

  • Snacks

    Sometimes you need a boost while writing that thesis on chaos theory.

Cleaning Supplies

  • Disinfecting wipes

    Wipes can pick up crumbs, clean up a sticky unidentified mess, and prevent bacteria from spreading. Students can, and probably will, use these wipes to clean up pretty much everything.

  • Sweeper-mop

    Having a long-handled sweeper that doubles as a mop is ideal for dorm living. Saving space is key, and these mops are light and easy to store.

  • Paper towels

    Not only can they be used as napkins, but they can tackle spills in no time. Having a roll or two around the room will be helpful.

  • Mini vacuum

    Larger vacuum cleaners are bulky and take up too much space in a small dorm room. (Plus, many dorm facilities make them available to students.)

  • Dish soap

    A little bit of soap can wash cups, bowls, plates, and silverware. And for those desperate times, the soap can also used to hand wash clothes.


  • Important papers

    Be sure to pack any important documents or ID cards you may need at college, such as a driver's license, registration forms, vaccination cards, and financial aid forms. If you plan to get a job, bring a copy of your birth certificate as proof of age.

  • Medications

    If you require prescription medications, bring enough with you to last until the next time you go home, or make sure that you can refill them at a pharmacy on campus or near the school.

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