Girl with curly hair sitting on bed looking at pictures, lights strung on wall

The Most Important Things You Need for Your Dorm Room

Dorm room shopping can add a whole new meaning to the word stress. Here's a list of essential things to put you on the right track for back-to-school shopping.

Getting ready for college may be just as stressful as the college search itself. Living on your own for the first time is overwhelming anyway—add in paperwork for financial aid, packing everything into a couple of suitcases, finding a roommate, and buying everything necessary for your dorm room can add a whole new meaning to stress. But don’t worry. Here’s a list of everything you may need (or want) when you first run off to college.

Dorm room essentials

It may seem like you just need sheets and pillows to make your dorm room comfortable, but there are plenty of things you may not think about until you start unpacking.

  • Sheets, pillows, blankets, etc.
  • Mattress pad
  • Clothing (multiple seasons if you don’t plan on going home until winter break)
  • Hangers
  • Storage items (baskets, cubbies)
  • Alarm clock
  • Decorations (posters, lights, pictures)
  • Clamp lamp and/or desk lamp
  • Command hooks or Sticky Tack/adhesive putty
  • Trash can
  • Small vacuum (Talk to someone in residence life to see if your dorm will have one before you lug a vacuum to campus only to not need it.)
  • Bulletin board or dry-erase board

Related: 10 Things Everyone Forgets to Pack for College

Bathroom

Bathrooms in college can always feel iffy, whether you have a suite-style dorm or share a communal bathroom with the whole floor.

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash
  • Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Robe
  • Flip-flops or shower shoes
  • Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc.
  • Razors and shaving cream
  • Makeup
  • Loofah
  • Shower caddy

Laundry

The laundry room is famous for being one of the least populated rooms on any campus at all times (except that one day everyone runs out of socks). While it's unlikely any college student will be adamant about washing their clothes, you still need whatever laundry items necessary for the rare occasion you actually do laundry. You also won’t have the hassle of lugging home bags of clothes for mom to wash every few months (and she’ll love that).

  • Laundry basket
  • Detergent
  • Quarters (if necessary—you may be able to pay with your student ID, or laundry might be included in your fees)
  • Fabric softener
  • Bleach
  • Dryer sheets
  • Lint brush
  • Tide To Go pen (for quick fixes!)

Kitchen

Cafeteria food isn’t always the best, so sometimes you may want to just eat in your dorm. Not every college allows appliances like microwaves or toaster ovens, and other colleges have dorms with a shared kitchen. Make sure to check your college’s website, talk to residence life staff, and see what your roommate is bringing before investing in any kitchenware, especially something large and/or expensive like a minifridge or coffee maker.

  • Plates
  • Minifridge
  • Toaster oven with small pan
  • Microwave
  • Cups
  • Silverware
  • Ramen
  • Snacks
  • Water filter pitcher (like a Brita)
  • Coffee maker
  • Reusable water bottle

Important documents

It's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of decorating your dorm, but it's also important to remember certain items like legal documents or your social security card.

  • Important documents (birth certificate, financial aid documents, insurance cards, etc.)
  • Prescription medications (and prescriptions for them)
  • Lock box to put it all in

Related: 5 Easy Ways to Have the Best Dorm Room

School supplies

The relaxing feeling of summer always seems to dwindle after seeing the back-to-school Target commercials. Shopping for supplies can either be the worst or best feeling. Regardless of what emotions you have, it's important that you get everything you need for a successful school year!

  • Notebooks
  • Paper
  • Textbooks
  • Binders
  • Pencils, highlighters, pens, etc.
  • Chargers
  • Calendar
  • Glue
  • Stapler and staples
  • Erasers
  • Planner
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Laptop
  • Laptop case
  • Mouse
  • Printer, printer ink, and paper (if you don’t want to print at the library)
  • Headphones

Miscellaneous

Here are a few extra things you might need that won’t take up too much room in your dorm.

  • Fan
  • First aid kit
  • Board games
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Trash bags
  • Surge protectors
  • Bike and bike lock

Related: A List of the Most Important Things to Bring to College

There’s a lot of stuff to remember, but luckily places like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Dorm Co have bundles with (almost) everything you need to decorate your room for a discounted price. You may need more or less stuff when you settle into your second home, but this is just to get you started, If you want more information for a specific college, most have a list of recommended items to bring on their website. And definitely check your school’s residence life page to see what items are banned from the dorms!

Learn more about what to expect from living on campus and in a dorm in our Student Life section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
college packing dorm life dorm rooms preparing for college shopping

About Tayler Butters

Tayler Butters

Tayler Butters is a high school student with a passion for music, photography, and writing. She loves spending her time in church and with her golden retriever, Lilly.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Christina

Christina

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me find Allegheny College with the super-user-friendly search tool for both schools and scholarships. Using CollegeXpress, I was able to search for programs I was interested in studying and find colleges that offered those programs. Also, once you search for the college, CollegeXpress can get you connected!

Jasmine

Jasmine

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me find the school I am currently attending by consistently sending me emails of other schools. This allowed me to do research on other schools as well as the one I am in now!

Rhiannon Teeter

Rhiannon Teeter

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2012

I have spent a lot of time aggressively searching for scholarships. It was a long and frustrating process until I found the CollegeXpress network. This site made my search so much easier. With the simple check of a few boxes, the site sorted out scholarships I was eligible for and led me directly to the correct websites. Winning this scholarship has definitely given me and my family some financial relief, and CollegeXpress has allowed me to improve my chances of winning further financial aid. Thank you so much!

Chris Bell

Chris Bell

Bell College Consulting

The college lists on CollegeXpress are indispensable for sussing out creative additions to a student’s list, and the college-specific pages provide terrific commentary and suggestions for related schools. CollegeXpress is among the most trusted sources I use for information for my students.

Katelyn

Katelyn

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress gave me options of schools with my major and from there I was able to pick what was most important to me in a school. Everything was so organized that I could see all the information I needed.

College Matches