Gearing up to move to the dorms is an exciting time, but it’s also fraught with plenty of important questions. One of the biggest ones: What do I bring with me? If you’ve been living under your parents’ roof for your whole life it’s easy to see why starting completely from scratch in a space of your own is a daunting task. Now you will live almost on your own and among usual tasks like writing custom essays and making a bed will appear budget planning and cooking. Enter our definitive dorm room checklist—your guide to everything that you need to bring with you when you move out of your childhood bedroom and into student housing. Whether you’re the student or the parent of one, read on for the 101 on dorm room essentials.
Bedding. Find out whether your bed is a standard twin or an XL twin, and then purchase two sets of linens, including fitted sheets, flat sheets, and pillow cases. Then get one comforter or a duvet insert with a cover.
Pillow(s). However many you need for a good night’s sleep.
Mattress pad. Bulk up your dorm mattress with the addition of a pad for extra comfort.
Extra blanket. For added warmth on cold nights.
Study pillow. If you intend to do your school work in bed, or just need the extra support.
Bedside lamp. A simple lamp by your bed is perfect for late night reading that won’t keep your roommate up.
Earplugs and an eye mask. For those times when it’s your roommate who’s staying up and you’re the one going to bed.
Laptop. Don’t leave your computer at home! Be sure to have all appropriate software loaded on as well.
Laptop lock. For peace of mind when you need to leave your laptop behind.
Chargers. Make sure to bring along all of the chargers that you’ll need, including the ones for your laptop and cell phone.
Desk lamp. Brighten up your study area with a flexible lamp you can adjust to shine where you need it to.
USB flash drive or hard drive. You’ll want to have plenty of available memory for storing assignments and resources.
Day planner. Even if you normally use your phone’s calendar app for keeping track of your day-to-day to dos, having a physical day planner is incredibly helpful for staying organized.
Notebooks and binders or folders. You don’t necessarily need one for each of your classes—just enough so that each class can have its own section for notes and handouts.
Pens, pencils, and highlighters. Plus plenty of back-ups.
Notecards. An essential study tool.
Dry erase board. Keep one by your desk for jotting down notes and hang the other on the outside of your dorm room door in case someone wants to leave you a message when you’re not in.
Printer (with paper and ink). Your campus library will likely have printers you can use, but invest in your own if you know you’ll need to use it a lot.
Backpack or shoulder bag. Those textbooks get heavy, fast—get a bag with extra support to protect your back.
Stackable desk trays. Preferable to having papers strewn everywhere.
Scissors and tape. You might not need them all of the time, but you’ll be glad you have them when you do.
For personal hygiene
Bath and hand towels. Have at least two of each so that you’re not out of luck when one set is in the laundry.
Toiletries. Don’t forget the basics: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, etc.
Shower caddy. Makes bringing all those toiletries to and from the bathroom a whole lot easier.
Bathrobe. A comfortable alternative to towels when you’re walking to or from the bathroom, and good for just lounging around, too.
Flip flops. Take it from us, you don’t want to go in the bathroom or showers with bare feet.
Hair necessities. Including a hair brush, hair dryer, and ponytail holders.
All the little things. Including nail clippers, a nail file, tweezers, cotton swabs, etc.
Hangers. Get more than you think you need.
Laundry hamper. Choose one that you know you won’t have trouble lugging to and from the dorm laundry room.
Laundry detergent and dryer sheets. While you might want to get the biggest detergent bottle possible, keep in mind that you’ll have to carry it along with your laundry. You can always buy more, so stick to a bottle size that’s manageable.
Spare quarters. Not all dorms have free laundry, so be prepared by bringing along plenty of quarters (you can always spend them on something else if you don’t need them).
Drying rack. For air drying garments that can’t go through the dryer.
Hand steamer. Gets wrinkles out without having to deal with an iron.
Shoe rack. Buy an adjustable one that can be made bigger or smaller depending on the size of your closet.
Disinfectant wipes. The simplest way to keep your surfaces clean and free of germs.
Rechargeable hand vacuum. Skip the broom and dustpan and go for a handheld vacuum instead.
Small garbage can and small garbage bags. Keep the garbage can by your desk or mini fridge.
Mini fridge. Stock it up with snacks and a filtered water pitcher.
Mini coffee maker. Ideal to have on hand for early morning classes and late night cram sessions.
Wire shelving unit. For storing snacks and non-perishables.
Eating and drinking must-haves. Have one or two plates, bowls, spoons, forks, and knives, as well as a water glass and mug. Bring a sponge and dish soap too so you can wash items between uses.
Water bottle. Reduce waste by filling up a water bottle to bring with you throughout the day instead of relying on single use bottles.
Photos from home. Hang them on the wall so your family, friends, and pets are always close to you.
Floor lamp or string lights. A great way to add extra light and ambiance to your space.
Spare lightbulbs. Opt for LEDs to cut on energy usage.
Standing fan. Stay comfy, even when you don’t have air conditioning.
Over the door hooks. An invaluable alternative to just throwing your coat and/or towels on the floor every day.
Curtains and curtain rod. Your dorm will probably be equipped with blinds, but if you want to add a little bit more of your own style then curtains are a great way to do it.
Area rug. A good way to mask (and add some comfort to) those blasé dorm floors.
Removable command hooks. Provides extra storage for hanging items.
Prints, posters, and tapestries. Brighten up those bare walls.
For your health
Prescribed medications. Coordinate with your doctor to ensure you either have enough to last you until you’re home next or the option for refills.
First aid kit. So you don’t have to go to the campus health center for every little nick or scratch.
Over-the-counter pain medications. It’s always good to have some aspirin or ibuprofen for when you need it.
Vitamins. For filling in the nutritional gaps left by late night pizza and campus cafeteria food.
All the extras
Television. In the event you don’t want to just watch everything on your laptop.
Under bed storage. Perfect for storing spare linens and out of season clothing. If your bed isn’t tall enough for your storage needs, get some bed risers and lift it up.
Sewing kit. Even if you’re not an expert sewer, bring along a small basic sewing kit just in case you need to reattach a button or fix a fallen hem.
Umbrella. Unfortunately class doesn’t get cancelled just because it’s raining.
Small fireproof safe. Store anything in here that you don’t want to risk others getting access to, including important documents and any prescription medications.
Extension cords and surge protectors. A simple solution for the inevitable lack of outlets.
Portable speakers. Go for wi-fi enabled ones so you can listen both inside and outside.
Note that some of these items you’ll only need one of in your dorm room, so coordinate with your roommate and decide who is going to bring what.
Don’t forget to add to your own dorm room checklist those things that you know will help you feel most comfortable in your space, including stuff like your go-to books and that stuffed animal you can’t sleep without. Just don’t bring everything from your room at home, since as much as you might want it all there, you’re not going to have enough room to store it all. Be smart about the extras you decide to bring, and know that you can likely live without a lot more than you might think.