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: What to Pack for College: The Essential List

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
CollegeXpress Logo

$10,000

Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Jeff Parsons

Jeff Parsons

Counselor

Thank you so much for this valuable information about these opportunities. I truly appreciate the CollegeXpress communications and use them to keep my high school seniors informed about their opportunities!

Abhishek Kumar

Abhishek Kumar

High School Class of 2022

As a high schooler, I know how hard it is to plan for college. You have to consider a lot of factors: SAT/ACT scores, college searches, scholarships, and more. CollegeXpress has been a helpful resource that solves all these problems. One can easily create a free account and search away. They help you search for scholarships and colleges, they have graduate program search, they have lists and rankings, and so much more. CX also has a lot of articles and advice to read—whether it’s financial aid, test prep, campus visits, internships/careers, or anything. Not only that, CX gives out free scholarship money to students who sign up and create a free CX account. I love CX and will continue to use it! Thank you CollegeXpress for making my college journey easier!

Ida Akoto-Wiafe

Ida Akoto-Wiafe

High School Class of 2022

I wanted a school that wasn't too far away from home and could provide me with a full-ride scholarship. CollegeXpress helped me put into perspective the money I had to pay to attend those schools, which ultimately drove me to choose to attend a community college first to get used to being in college before transferring to the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, one of the colleges I was able to research further on CollegeXpress.

Dani York

Dani York

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped in my journey by comparing multiple colleges for my final decision. While looking at different colleges, I was able to compare the tuition expenses and that landed me with the college that I’m currently enrolled in, Western Kentucky University. Thank you!

Yuhlani Patterson

Yuhlani Patterson

None

CollegeXpress has helped me find so many scholarships that fit me. They match me to colleges I have specific interest in to make searching for colleges way easier and more efficient. CollegeXpress refers me to schools that have my major of interest and backup schools if I want to change my mind. CollegeXpress also gives out their own scholarships, so you have even more of a chance at gaining multiple scholarships. This website has helped me de-stress from the pressure of not being able to afford college, [of finding] what schools are right for me, and how to find easy access to scholarships that most people never knew existed.

College Matches