As an incoming Junior, I have had 2 years to experience college; from the classes to campus food and living in the dorms. Something I have noticed, however, is that most of the lists you see for incoming freshmen of “College Nessestities” while having some of the basic things you will need, also are full of things I and my friends bought for college but rarely used. So, I decided to write a college checklist for dorm items I believe you actually need to bring to college and that you will use often.
Beyond the essentials for college dorm life, this post also includes a printable college dorm checklist (you can find it at the end of the post).
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Disclaimer: This list does not contain needs for groceries, or any class materials; only dorm necessities.
My biggest tip is not to pack too much. You need the right things to be comfortable, have good storage options, and enough clothes (but not all of them). Did I mention how small the closets are?
31 Things You Actually Need For Your Dorm Room As A Freshmen In College
A typical dorm room has either 2, 3 or 4 beds unless you have a private dorm room. They tend to be super basic and usually include your bed, mattress, and a desk. There is also a small closet. So, you need to be pretty strategic when packing for college dorm life.
Items You Need for Your Dorm Bed
A standing fan that is the height or taller than the bed is best, however, if you have roommates and you are on the top bunk, a fan that clips onto the bed will work well too. Make sure you clip it onto the end of your bed so it is not too close to your face, as that can dry you out or cause other side effects.
2. Mattress Topper
A dorm mattress is almost never comfortable. At my college, the mattresses were covered in a thick layer of something like plastic, so they can’t be stained. Because of this, a mattress topper of at least 3 inches will make all the difference for your comfort and your sleep while in college.
If you can, look for one with a baffle box with a quilted microfiber top. Unless your college says otherwise, get a twin XL size mattress topper, as that is the size of most college mattresses.
3. Twin XL Sheet Set
Most college dorms have extra-long twin beds. A set of sheets is a necessity, however, a set of breathable and cooling sheets will be best for college as you can never predict the temperature your room will be until you get there.
I recommended a high-quality breathable sheet set that will keep you cool during hot nights, and I believe a good comforter is the best thing to rely on for heat on cold nights.
A high-quality comforter will be one of the best things to have on colder nights in your dorm. I recommend a thick but breathable comforter that will keep you warm on cold nights but won’t make you sweat on warmer nights.
Tip: I don’t recommend a white comforter. As hard as you try, it will get dirty and comforters aren’t something you want to have to wash weekly.
5. Mattress Protector
You will likely not be the first person sleeping on the mattress provided in your dorm. Therefore I recommend getting a high-quality, hypoallergenic, waterproof mattress protector to keep your mattress clean and so you have an extra layer between the mattress and your sheets.
Being that a Twin XL bed is pretty small width-wise, 2 regular pillows will be hard to fit on your mattress. I recommend that you get a high-quality King size pillow that will cover your mattress’ width better. Make sure you get a breathable pillow, and one that fits your preference of softness and feel.
7. Backrest Pillow
Since dorm rooms tend to be small, places to sit are limited. So making your bed a comfy place to sit with back support is very important. Whether it’s studying in bed, or having friends over and needing as many seats as possible; a backrest pillow really comes in handy.
Find this Backrest Pillow on Amazon
Essentials for Dorm Showers
8. Shower Caddy
Since you likely won’t have a bathroom in your dorm, you will be walking from your dorm down the hall to shower and brush your teeth. A shower caddy with many pockets for all your products will make showering and your morning and nighttime routine much more accessible.
Find this shower caddy on Amazon
9. Shower Shoes
Sharing a community bathroom and shower can sometimes be gross, so the best way to make sure you don’t get germs from the bathroom on your feet are shoes made specifically for the shower, especially shower shoes. Just make sure to still wash your feet.
10. Bath Towels
Bath towels are an obvious necessity. I recommend getting one that is extra soft and thick to help dry you off fast and effectively. I recommend getting a set with wash cloths and hand towels for shaving and/or washing your face.
11. Bath Robe
When walking from your dorm room to the communal bathroom, a bathrobe is a great item to have to cover up comfortably and effectively, making it so you don’t have to without having to dress and undress in the bathroom.
Dorm Room Organizing Essentials
12. Hanging Door Organizer
Best for hanging on a closet door, you can use this to hold your shoes, smaller clothing items, jewelry, and other items that create clutter to make your room look nice and clean.
13. Storage Bins
As you will likely be bringing many belongings, as well as having to find a place to put dishes, cleaning supplies, and other items, the best way I have found to store these items is with collapsible storage bins that you can place under your desk or bed. This is a tidy way to keep your room more organized and make it cleaner overall.
14. Bedside Organizer
My aunt gave me a bedside storage organizer, and it continues to be one of my favorite dorm items. It is especially great if you are on a top bunk. It is a great way to store medicine, your phone, and other nighttime needs is getting a bed organizer that goes under your mattress and hangs off the bed, holding your items so you can reach them standing, or in the bed. Make sure to get one with bottle compartments for medicine and vitamins.
15. Command Hooks
Your school will likely not let you use nails or drills on your wall, so a good way to hang things up like a clock, art, or even hats and other clothing items is by using a command strip or hooks that you stick to the wall. You can remove them with no damage to the walls at the end of the school year.
16. Clothes Hangers
You will likely have limited closet space, so I recommend getting slim velvet clothes hangers as they take up very little room, and are non-slip for your clothing items. Choose your count of hangers based on how many pieces of clothing you expect to bring to college.
Slim Velvet Clothes Hangers can be found on Amazon
Dorm Necessities for Laundry & Cleaning
17. Laundry Basket
A strong laundry basket is the easiest way to bring your laundry to the laundry machines, which in my experience are usually quite a ways from your dorm room. For saving space, you’ll want one that is collapsible.
18. Tide Pods & Dryer Sheets
A normal liquid detergent, stain remover, fabric softener, and other laundry products are just too much to bring to your college dorm. Tide Pods or similar laundry Pods will save you time, money, and space, and are the best way to wash your clothes in college.
Another Laundry Essential are dryer sheets. Not only will help take the lint off your clothes, but if you get a wrinkle removing dryer sheet, it also helps keep your clothes wrinkle-free and looking nice.
19. Cleaning Supplies
You’d be surprised how dirty a dorm room can get, and because you have limited space, I recommend a cleaning kit that comes with storage for it so you can pull out what you need when you need it and then store it away from view when you are not using it. Anti-bacterial and scented cleaners are great for keeping your dorm clean and smelling fresh.
20. Handheld Vaccum
Your room will inevitably collect dust and have debris buildup on the floor. A small cordless vacuum is a great cleaning tool to have that doesn’t take up too much space but can clean your room up fast and effectively.
Dorm Desk Organization Essentials
21. Desk Mirror
Whether you’re putting on makeup, putting in contacts, or shaving, a desktop mirror is a great thing to have in your dorm. Many dorms do not have mirrors and the closest one is in the bathroom, so this is really a convenient luxury.
My favorite LED Desktop Mirror on Amazon
22. Trash Can With Lid
Being that your dorm room will likely be small (have I said that yet?), I recommend a trash can with a lid to keep any bad smells from escaping and stinking up your room. Don’t forget to get disposable trash bags that fit your trash can to keep it clean.
The one below comes in a bunch of cool colors as well.
Find this Trash Can with lid on Amazon
23. Desktop Organizer
A good way to keep your desk neat is by getting a desktop organizer to store miscellanies items such as pens, pencils, and note cards.
24. Power Strips
Your dorm room will likely have a limited number of outlets so getting a surge projector outlet or two will both help keep your room safe, and give you access to many more outlets to plug in all your devices and electronics. This is a must!
25. Extension Cords
Your cords or power strips will likely not be long enough to plug into your outlets from all angles of your room, so I recommend getting a few 6 ft extension cords to make plugging things in much easier.
26. Long phone Charger
Depending on where your bed is in relation to your outlets, you will likely want a long charging cord for your phone so you can use it in bed while also being able to move freely while doing so.
Additional Items for Your Dorm Room
As a freshman, you will likely be eating all of your big meals at your school’s dining hall. However, keeping drinks and snacks in a dorm room refrigerator is a great idea for cravings and late nights. It is a bigger piece of furniture, but at 2 AM you will thank me when all the food halls and other places on campus to get food are closed. It’s also nice to have a few breakfast items if you just don’t feel like walking to the dining hall or getting up early.
This Minifridge from Amazon comes in cool colors
28. Dishes and Silverware Set
Although you’ll likely be eating almost all your meals at the dining hall. It never hurts to have a few dishes and silverware for snacks and leftovers. If you have a refrigerator, you’ll also have ice from the mini freezer which is also nice for drinks if you like to use cups.
College Freshman Must Have’s!
29. Backpack With Computer Case
A backpack is a necessity, however, one with a padded computer case built-in to keep your computer safe is even better. That way you don’t have to carry around a computer case in your backpack, and you can get your computer when you need it while keeping it safe while it’s in your backpack. I really like the High Sierra brand. It’s super durable and looks great after two years of use.
30. Water Bottle
To help reduce waste and cut costs, instead of buying plastic water bottles, investing in a high-quality insulated water bottle is a great idea. Make sure to get one that can hold cold and hot beverages for a good amount of time. My favorite is the Hydro Flask. If you buy a unique color or cover it in some stickers, you’ll always know which is your bottle!
31. Pepper Spray Key Chain
While college can be a fun place, it can sometimes leave you in weird places and situations, especially once you’re drinking age. Having pepper spray or a similar weapon to defend yourself no matter where you are is a great way to both feel safe and arm yourself with a non-lethal weapon. Make sure you replace it once it expires and learn to use it properly.
I hope you have found this college checklist for dorm move-in helpful! These are the 31 dorm room essentials and college life necessities for your freshman year. If there is anything else you think needs to be added to the list, let us know in the comments.
Printable College Dorm Checklist
If you’d like to print a copy as a checklist, simply click on the graphic below. It will open a printable PDF of this college dorm checklist.