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Dorm Room Checklist - A Practical Guide for Moving to College - DormSmart

Created by parents and students who have navigated move-in weekend first year, our dorm room checklist is a practical guide to make planning, organizing, packing, and unpacking for campus living less chaotic. While the essentials listed may seem like a lot to pack and haul to your college campus, most are compact and easily stored in containers under the bed or in the closet of your freshman dorm room. Keep in mind, you'll be adjusting the list based on your needs, but it's a good starting point that also includes a to do list of often overlooked action items. Let's get started.

Follow these simple steps to better plan and organize your mve to campus:

  • Download DormSmart's Dorm Room Checklist. Requires (Get Adobe Acrobat Reader)
  • Check your school housing policy for what to bring and what not to bring to campus, adjust the list.
  • Make space at home to pack your dorm room essentials.
  • Inventory items you have at home first then create a shopping list and budget. Check items off the list as acquired.
  • Number your boxes. As you pack each item, mark its box number on the checklist to quickly locate essential items when you arrive on campus. Note that box size and weight matter if you must carry it a long distance to your residence hall or up the stairs to your dorm room.
  • Finally, use the checklist as an inventory for your school property insurance, keep your receipts.

Dorm Room Bedding (check mattress size with college)

Box #Box #
2 Sheet Sets (extra pillowcases)Blanket
Duvet & Duvet Cover Set or Comforter SetMattress Cover (bedbug protection)
Mattress PadFoam Topper
Pillows (for sleep and to transform bed into daytime seating)Soft Throw (for lounging and outdoor events)

Dorm Size Cooking/Eating Supplies

Box #Box #
UL Listed Compact Refrigerator or Microfridge - consult roommateUL Listed Auto Shutoff Small Coffee Maker (NO Hot Plate) - consult roommate
BPA Free Microwave Safe Dishes (2 large plates, 2 small plates, 2 bowls)2 - 4 Break Resistant Tumblers
2 Reusable Water BottlesInsulated Travel Cup
Water Pitcher (must fit in dorm size refrigerator)Eating Utensils (2 forks, 2 teaspoons, 2 tablespoons, and 2 butter knives)
BPA Free Microwavable Cookware (e.g., Fasta Pasta)BPA Free Storage Containers (square saves space)
Can OpenerChip Clips
Measuring Cup (microwavable)Measuring Spoons
Paring Knife (check school policy) or PeelerPizza Cutter
Salad/Spaghetti TongsSmall Funnel
Spatula/TurnerColander (collapsible saves space)
Dorm Sink Stopper (if needed) - consult roommateDish Scrubber
Dish Liquid2 Pot Holders
2 Dish TowelsTrash Bin - consult roommate
Trash BagsPaper Towels
Disposable Plates and Utensils (if preferred)Study Snacks/Food/Bulk Snacks (save money)
Coffee SuppliesBulk Drinks (e.g., bottled water to store under your bed)
Storage Bags (e.g., store food, toothbrush, and toiletries, change to reduce germs)

Cleaning Supplies

Box #Box #
UL Listed Compact Vacuum Cleaner - consult roommateBucket with Lid (safely store cleaning and laundry products)
Cleaning Products (include a few old cleaning rags)Toilet Brush (if in-suite bathroom) - consult roommate


Box #Box #
2 Ethernet Cables 14ft and 25ft (when wireless fails, run 1 cable to the desk and 1 to your bed)Computer - check compatibility requirements with school
Laptop/Tablet Sleeve (protection when running around campus)Computer Bag/Bookbag (must hold school supplies and computer)
UL Listed Surge Protectors with Overload Protection (flat plugs save space)Compact Printer with Cable (for procrastinators) - consult roommate
Printer Ink and Paper - consult roommate

Dorm Room Decor

Box #Box #
Area Rug - consult roommatePhotos from Home (digital photo frames save space)
Lightweight Message BoardsMessage Board Accessories (e.g., dry erase markers or chalk and eraser)
3M Command Strips for hanging wall decor (save dorm room deposit)Wall Decor (e.g., removable and reusable wall decals and break resistant mirror)

Dorm Room Friendly Electronics (UL Listed)

Box #Box #
Alarm Clock (consider using phone)Portable Music Player (consider using phone)
TV Combo (whatever your needs, just dorm size) - consult roommateNoise Canceling Headphones (tune out noisy residence halls)
Cable Splitter (if you do not want to share)Extra Cable (depends upon location of cable tv outlet)
Surge Protector with Overload Protection - check school housing policies
UL Listed Fan - consult roommate
UL Listed Air Cleaner - consult roommateRemovable Tap Lights for Closet (if needed)
Pest Control - check school policy and consult roommateUL Listed Desk Lamp (no halogen)
UL Listed Bedside Table Lamp (no halogen)Electronics Charger(s)
Inexpensive Camera (consider using phone)Extra Batteries

Dorm Room Furniture (What does your school provide for students?)

Box #Box #
BedDesk and Chair
Bedside Table (one that provides additional storage)Extra Seating (space permitting)

Laundry Supplies

Box #Box #
UL Listed 3-Way Auto Shutoff Iron or Steamer - consult roommateIroning Board - consult roommate
Hangers (hanging clothes saves space)Folding Dry Rack (for drying sweaters or fine washables)
Sweater/Delicates Wash Bag SetLaundry Staples (e.g., detergent, softener, color bleach, and stain remover)
Lint RollerSewing Kit
Laundry Hamper (e.g., pop up, folding, or backpack)

Safety and Security

Box #Box #
College First Aid KitFlu and Cold Season (e.g., meds, cough drops, and thermometer)
Pain Relief MedicineMultivitamins or Vitamin C
Hand Sanitizer (use after class or lab, before touching your face or food)Prescriptions
Laptop LockBicycle Lock
Dorm Room Safe/Lockable StorageDefensive Spray or Alarm - check school policies and state and local laws
FlashlightKey Chain
Compact Tool KitRain Poncho
UmbrellaRain Boots (must have in areas like New Orleans)
Sun ScreenSun Hat (ideal for outdoor activities in hotter climates)

Shower Supplies

Box #Box #
Waterproof Shower Bag or Caddy (quick drying)2 Each Bath Towels, Hand Towels, and Washcloths or Scrubbies
Spa Wrap or RobeSlippers
Shower ShoesShower Curtain (if needed) - consult roommate
Bath Mat (if needed) - consult roommateHair Appliances
Hair Products (e.g., shampoo, conditioner, styling products)Razor or Shaver
Shaving CreamShower Soap
Toothbrush/Toothbrush HolderToothpaste
MouthwashDental Floss
DeodorantFoot Powder (be kind to your dorm mate)
Manicure KitAir Neutralizer (kill odors)
Extra Toilet PaperDisinfectant (kill bacteria)
Personal Toiletries (e.g., makeup and other personal items)Tissues

Storage and Organization

Box #Box #
Storage Bins (collapsible bins on shelves, under your bed, and in the closet)Lockable Trunk (for secure storage, travel, and extra seating)
Under Bed StorageBed Risers (check school policy and dimensions of bed posts)
Hanging Storage (check your closet dimensions)Storage Caddies (for school supplies, hair appliances, or makeup...)
Over the Door Storage Hooks (hang book bags, purses, jackets, and wet towels)Space Bags (minimizes bulky clothing or blankets when not in use)
Clothing Bag (protection for dress clothes)

Getting Around Campus

Box #Box #
Bicycle (inexpensive bike to get around on or near campus)Bike Accessories (e.g., helmet, lock, basket, repair kit, pump)

School Supplies (Can you utilize electronics in your classrooms?)

Box #Box #
6 College Ruled Notebooks6 Folders
6 Report CoversStapler
StaplesStaple Remover
3 Hole PunchScissors
Index CardsTape Dispenser
TapePush Pins
Post-it NotesPens (red, black, blue)
Standard #2 Pencils (testing)Erasers
CalculatorRubber Bands
Paper ClipsBinder Clips
Desk OrganizersAcademic Planner

Everything Else (includes to do action items)

Box #Box #
Proof of Health InsuranceImmunization Records
Accident/Theft InsuranceEmergency Contact Card
Evaluate/Adjust Mobile Phone Coverage/Pack ChargerOpen Bank Account/Get a Bank Card
Establish a Monthly BudgetAdd Money to School Card (e.g., campus purchases, services, and laundry)
Coins (if no card system)Register Bicycle
Register Vehicle with School/Obtain Parking PermitCool Weather Items (e.g., coat and jacket for early fall)
Equipment for Activities (e.g., music, sports, cheerleading)Clothing & Accessories (e.g., casual, dress, workout, avoid expensive jewelry)
Luggage (for travel over school breaks)

Moving Your Essentials to Campus

Box #Box #
If needed, reserve your moving trailer or transport early! Don't forget a dolly.Moving Supplies (e.g., boxes, packaging materials, tape, sharpie, and tool kit)

A few tips for a successful move-in weekend

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 dorm room checklist to prepare for your move to college. Whenever possible, it's best to purchase your dorm room essentials early, pack them in an organized 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 (mark that you need to retrieve them on your list).

When you arrive on campus, there's lots to do to settle-in, all while participating in mandatory activities such as freshmen orientation. It's best to allow your family to help you unpack, organize, and style your dorm room into a home away from home to save time and get the best start for Monday classes. It makes the transition to college life more comfortable for everyone, especially you. Don't forget this move is also a big change for your family so put them at ease by communicating often. Have a successful year at college!

Publisher Information: Original work of, L.L.C. first published December 23, 2009 and last updated on 09/6/18.