College Dorm Room Checklist - What to Bring and How to Pack

What to Bring and How to Pack for College in 3 Easy Steps

This checklist is for college bound freshmen moving into a dorm room.

Our dorm room checklist includes the essentials you need to bring to college plus a few student tasks to complete prior to move-in weekend. While the suggested items on our college checklist may seem like a lot to pack, many are dorm room size and easily stored making it ideal for first-year college-bound students, both guys and girls. 

3 Easy Steps:

  • 1Download and Print DormSmart's Free College Dorm Room Checklist. Check your school housing policies for what to bring to campus and more importantly what not to bring to campus.
  • 2Make room at home to store your college dorm room essentials as you acquire them over the summer. To save money, pack items you have at home first. For essentials, you must buy, shop early to give yourself time to check purchases and make returns. Avoid procrastinating move-in weekend at college is busy.
  • 3Use your checklist to inventory as you pack for college then use it again to quickly unpack when you arrive on campus. For example, if you pack sheets in Box #1, write Box #1 next to that item on your checklist. (To save time, use your checklist as an inventory for your college property insurance policy.)

Dorm Room Cooking / Eating Supplies

Box # Box #
UL Listed Compact Refrigerator or Microfridge (CHECK WITH ROOMMATE) UL Listed Auto Shutoff Small Coffeemaker (NO Hotplate) - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE
Dorm Dishes (Non-breakable, BPA Free, and Microwavable) - 2 dinner plates, 2 small plates, and 2 bowls 2 to 4 Glasses (Non-breakable)
2 Reusable Water Bottles Insulated Travel Cup
Water Pitcher (Make sure it fits in your dorm size refrigerator.) Eating Utensils - 2 forks, 2 teaspoons, 2 tablespoons, and 2 knives
Microwavable Cookware (BPA Free) Storage Containers (BPA free and square containers save space.)
Can Opener Chip Clips
Measuring Cup Measuring Spoons
Paring Knife or Peeler Pizza Cutter
Salad / Spaghetti Tongs Small Funnel
Spatula / Turner Strainer / Colander (Collapsible saves space.)
Check to see if dorm sink needs a stopper - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE Dish Scrubber
Dish Liquid 2 Pot Holders
2 Dish Towels Trash Bin - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE.
Trash Bags Paper Towels
Paper Plates and Plastic ware (until you're unpacked) Study Snacks / Food / Bulk Snacks (Saves money!)
Coffee Supplies Bulk Drinks (i.e. sodas, water... store them under your bed)
Freezer / Storage Bags (Disposable large and small bags to store food, toothbrush, and toiletries, change to reduce germs)

Dorm Room Bedding Essentials (Check Mattress Size With College)

Box # Box #
2 Sheet Sets (Remember extra pillowcases.) Blanket
Duvet and Duvet Cover OR Comforter Set Mattress Cover (Bedbug Protection)
Mattress Pad Foam Topper
Pillows (Lots of pillows for sleeping and to turn your dorm room bed into daytime seating.) Soft Throw (For lounging around your dorm room or outdoor events.)

Dorm Room Cleaning Supplies

Box # Box #
UL Listed Compact Vacuum Cleaner (consider bagless or 2 in 1 unit that includes a handheld for quick clean up) - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE Bucket with lid to store cleaning and laundry products safely.
Cleaning Products (Bring a few old cleaning rags.) Toilet Brush (only necessary if you have an in-suite bathroom.) - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE


Box # Box #
2 Ethernet Cables 14ft and 25ft (Use when wireless doesn't work. Run 1 cable to the desk and 1 to the bed.) Computer Requirements (Get compatibility requirements from your school.)
Laptop / Tablet Sleeve (Protect your computer when running around campus.) Computer Bag / Book bag (Purchase a bag that will hold both your school supplies and computer.)
UL Listed Surge Protectors with Overload Protection (Flat plugs save space.) Compact Printer with Cable (Optional. Great for procrastinators.) - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE
Ink and Paper for Printer (Optional) - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE

Dorm Room Decor

Box # Box #
Dorm Room Area Rug - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE Photos From Home (Consider a digital photo frame to display your photos and save space.)
Lightweight Message Boards (White, cork, chalk, or memory boards are great choices.) Accessories for Message Boards (i.e. dry erase markers, chalk, and an eraser...)
3M Command Strips for hanging wall decor (Save your dorm room deposit!) Wall Decor (Removable and reusable wall decals look great and save your deposit! Don't forget a break resistant mirror.)

Dorm Room Electronics (UL Listed)

Box # Box #
Alarm Clock (Whenever possible, multipurpose to save space. Consider using the alarm on your cell phone.) Portable Music Player
Small TV / Blu-ray or DVD Combo. Whatever your needs, just be sure it is SMALL - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE Noise Canceling Headphones for TV / Blu-ray or DVD Combo and Portable Music Player (Residence halls can be noisy.)
Cable Splitter (In case you don't want to share a TV with your roommate.) Extra Cable (You may need extra cable depending upon where the cable outlet is located in your dorm room.)
Extension Cords (Flat plugs save space.) - CHECK SCHOOL HOUSING POLICIES Phone / Answering System (DECT 6.0 prevents wireless interference.) - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE
UL Listed Air Cleaner (Optional. Consider filter free.) - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE UL Listed Fan (Optional) - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE
Pest Control (Optional. Depends on school policy and location.) - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE UL Listed Desk Lamp (NO halogen)
UL Listed Bedside Table Lamp (NO halogen) Removable Tap Lights for closet, if needed.
Inexpensive Camera Chargers for Electronics
Extra Batteries

Dorm Room Furniture - Check to see what your school provides for students.

Box # Box #
Bedside table that includes shelving or additional storage, such as a trunk cube, to maximize space. Comfortable Desk Chair (Check with your school.)
Additional Seating (If room permits.) Bed or desk if none provided by school. (Check housing policy before investing in furniture.)

Laundry / Ironing Supplies

Box # Box #
UL Listed 3-Way Auto Shutoff Iron - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE Ironing Board - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE
Hangers (Approximately 4 dozen - hanging clothes saves space!) Folding Clothing Dry Rack (Optional. Great for drying sweaters or fine washables.)
Sweater / Delicates Wash Bag Set (Optional. Extending the life of your clothes saves money.) Laundry Staples (i.e. detergent, softener or dryer balls, color bleach, and stain remover...)
Lint Roller Sewing Kit
Laundry Hamper (i.e. Pop Up, Folding, or Backpack...)

Dorm Room Safety / Personal Security / Health Supplies / Tool Kits

Box # Box #
First Aid Kit Flu / Cold Medicines / Cough Drops / Thermometer (For when you feel too sick to get out of bed.)
Pain Relief Medicine Multi-vitamins or Vitamin C (Stay healthy!)
Anti-bacterial Hand Sanitizer (Always use after class or lab... before touching your face or food!) Prescriptions (Don't forget to pack your prescriptions!)
Laptop Lock Bicycle Lock
Dorm Room Safe Defensive Spray or Alarm (Check your school regulations or state laws prior to purchasing mace or pepper spray.)
Flashlight Key Chain
Compact Tool Kit Rain Poncho
Umbrella Rain Boots (A must have in areas like New Orleans.)
Sun Screen Sun Hat (If you participate in an outdoor activity, take a hat or two for hotter climates.)

Dorm Room Shower / Bath Supplies

Box # Box #
Waterproof Shower Bag or Caddy (Bring one that dries quickly and won't slime up on you!) MINIMUM of 2 bath towels or bath sheets, 2 hand towels, and 2 washcloths OR shower scrubbies
Spa Wrap or Robe Slippers
Shower Shoes (Pick up a pair of flip flops with good traction and save a little money.) Shower Curtain, if needed - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE
Bath Mat, if needed - CHECK WITH ROOMMATE Hair Appliances (i.e. blow dryer, flat iron, curling iron...)
Hair Products (i.e. shampoo, conditioner, styling products...) Razors
Shaving Cream Shower Soap
Toothbrush / Toothbrush Holder Toothpaste
Mouthwash Dental Floss
Deodorant Foot Powder (For sports, marching band, cheerleading activities... be kind to your dorm mate!)
Q-tips Tweezers
Manicure Kit Air Freshener / Neutralizer
Extra Toilet Paper Tissues
Personal Toiletries (i.e. makeup, perfume, cologne... and those other personal items.)

Dorm Room Storage

Box # Box #
Storage Bins (Use collapsible or folding storage bins on shelves, under your bed, and in your closet...) College Trunk (Optional for secure storage, travel, and extra seating...)
Under Bed Storage (i.e. a Smart Storage Cart for easy access and organization.) Bed Risers (Check inside dimensions. Square shaped works best for dorm bed posts.)
Hanging Storage for closet. (Check your closet dimensions before purchasing organizers.) Storage Caddies (Optional. Store school supplies, hair appliances, or makeup... everything!)
Storage Hooks for dorm room closet door. (Holds book bags, purses, jackets, and wet towels...) Space Bags (Optional. Save space by minimizing bulky clothing or blankets when not in use.)
Clothing Bag (Optional. Store your business suit. Take one professional outfit for special activities.)

Getting Around Campus

Box # Box #
Bicycle (Bring an inexpensive bicycle to get around on or near campus.) Bicycle Accessories (i.e. helmet, bike lock, basket, tire patch kit, and small air pump...) Tip: A plastic shopping bag tied over the seat when not in use keeps your butt dry on rainy days.

School Supplies (Remember this depends on how much or if you are allowed to utilize electronics in the classroom.)

Box # Box #
6 College Ruled Notebooks 6 Folders
6 Report Covers Stapler
Staples Staple Remover
3 Hole Punch Scissors
Index Cards Tape Dispenser
Tape Push Pins
Post it Notes Pens (Red, Black, Blue)
#2 Mechanical Pencils Erasers
Highlighters Ruler
Calculator Rubber Bands
Paper Clips Binder Clips
Desk Organizers Academic Planner

Everything Else

Box # Box #
Proof of Health Insurance Immunization Records
Accident / Theft Insurance Create and carry an Emergency Contact Card
Check your cell phone coverage area and adjust plan if needed. Don't forget to pack your charger. Setup a Bank Account / Get a Bank Card
Establish a Monthly Budget Add money to your college / university card for campus purchases, services, and laundry.
Only take coins if your college does not have a card system. Register your bicycle.
If taking a vehicle, remember to register your vehicle with your school and get a parking permit. Pack a few cool weather items such as a coat and jacket... Cool days happen in the summer and early fall!
Equipment for activities (i.e. music, sports, cheerleading...) YOUR CLOTHES! Make a list of everything you'll need first then pack them up! (If your campus has a recreational facility, you need to bring your workout clothes, swimsuit, and a beach towel. Don't pack expensive jewelry.)
Luggage for travel over school breaks. You may want to pack a small air mattress and extra blanket or sleeping bag for overnight company.

Moving Your Dorm Stuff

Box # Box #
If needed, reserve your moving trailer or transport early! Don't forget a dolly. Purchase moving supplies such as boxes, packaging materials, tape, and a sharpie marker.

Using a College Checklist to Plan Ahead Makes Move-in Weekend Easier

Move-in weekend is busy! There are thousands of boxes arriving on campus with many students trying to locate them. Exactly why you should use your college checklist to plan your move to college. Remember, whenever possible purchase dorm room supplies early, pack them in an orderly fashion, and accompany them to their final destination, your dorm room.

If you must ship your dorm room essentials to campus, remember to:

  • Use your campus shipping address; and
  • Give yourself plenty of time to locate your items, indicating those items you must locate on your checklist.

You need as much time as possible to get settled into your dorm room over move-in weekend, all while participating in mandatory activities. So work smarter, allow your family to help you organize and style your new space into a home away from home. It will make the transition to college life much easier for everyone, especially you. Don't forget this move is tough on your family too so put them at ease by keeping in touch. Have a great time at college, you earned it!

Share Our College Checklist with Fellow Students:

College Dorm Room Checklist Publisher Information: Original work of, L.L.C., first published 12/23/2009 and last updated on 05/27/18.

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