College Move-In Day: A College Packing List of Essentials for Your Dorm Room

A College Packing List of Essentials for Your Dorm Room

Many families know some of the usual essentials that a freshman student should bring to college, but it’s hard to think of everything. Of course, personal items from home will aid in the transition, but you’ll need more than bedding and a laptop to get through the year. Explore our college packing list for all the essential stuff you’ll need for your dorm room.

Before you buy or pack anything, be sure to check with your school about what items are and are not allowed. Most schools have to be very careful about health and safety regulations, and rules differ from place to place. One school might not allow microwaves; another might have specific regulations about what size of refrigerators is allowed. (See more examples below).

If you’re attending a college out of state consider only packing what you need for that weather season. Packing your entire wardrobe may seem necessary, but it can be more of a hassle trying to find a place for all your items once you’re in your quarters. One tip for out of state students that will save you money on shipping and give you more room to pack other things you’ll need is buying some items when you arrive at your new home.

Also, consider talking to a current student about what to pack. They can tell you about the “don’t bothers” and “must-haves” for the residences at your new college residence. They may even know specifics about your building that will be a real help.

And be sure to carefully complete and review your housing contract. By omitting certain information or sending it back incomplete, this could alter your living situation very dramatically. Once you arrive on campus, you could be locked into a living situation you do not care for simply because of a few errors.

In the meantime, here’s a list to help you start planning your move.

Bath and Bedding

Nothing screams dorm room life like an uncomfortable twin XL mattress. Worry not—this can easily be remedied with a good comforter or mattress topper. Bonus points if you’re able to find a reversible one to change the look of your room when one color starts to get boring. Your dorm room will most likely come furnished with other pieces as well, but you may want a larger desk to complete late night homework marathons. For night owls, bringing an actual alarm clock versus relying on your phone to wake you up might be the difference between getting to class on time or accidentally sleeping in. Don’t forget about storage containers and organizers! These will be your best friends, especially with customizing such a small space. Under bed storage and closet organizers help to stash your belongings away and hide the clutter when you don’t have time to organize during midterms or finals.

  • Comforter and/or quilts (Consider bringing sturdy, easy-to-wash items)
  • Throw blanket
  • Bed sheets (Suggested Size: Twin XL)
  • Pillows
  • Pillowcases
  • Mattress pad
  • Reading pillow
  • Alarm clock
  • Tissue
  • Paper towels
  • Under bed storage
  • Towels: bath, washcloths and hand towels. Consider putting your name on a tag in permanent marker, especially if you have plain white or other “anonymous” towels
  • Shower shoes (Community Showers)
  • Shower bucket/basket/caddy to carry items
  • Extra pillow(s) if you will lounge/study on the bed.

Health and Grooming

Keeping up with your health and hygiene is a must, regardless of whether you’re in college or not! If your dorm has a community bathroom, a shower caddy can make it easier to bring all of your bathroom essentials over in a single trip. You should also be prepared to deal with small injuries, especially if the health services office on your campus happens to be closed. A first aid kit can provide everything you need in the convenience of a small bag. It’s always better to be safe than sorry! If you’re new to the area and are unsure of where to get a good haircut, you might be brave enough to consider giving yourself one or having a friend do it for you. In this case, having a solid grooming set may be the right choice for you. Cordless sets, like the one listed below, are no hassle and you don’t have to worry about untangling cords whenever you want to change up your look. Studies have proven that there is a strong correlation between self care and academic performance. If you want to achieve that 4.0 during your freshman year, it starts with taking care of yourself first!

Get our guide to helping you narrow down what you want and need in a college

  • Shower gel or bath soap
  • Shower Cap
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Hair grooming tools (combs, hair dryer, brush)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Lotion/ skin cosmetics
  • Women who wear makeup might want a portable makeup kit/box
  • Bathrobe (Especially important if the shower is down the hall!)
  • Travel soap container
  • Dental floss
  • Eye drops
  • Q-tips
  • Mouthwash
  • Nail clippers
  • Loofah
  • Cotton swabs
  • Shaving kit
  • Handheld mirror
  • First Aid kit, including basic adhesive bandages, vitamins, aspirin, cough drops etc. (This will cut down on trips to the health center!)
  • Prescription medicines and copies of each prescription
  • Bathroom cleaning products (if you
  • Shower mat
  • Air Freshener
  • Scale
  • Thermometer
  • Heating pad
  • Air purifier

Clothes and Laundry

When it comes to laundry, most students dread the thought of doing it, whether it be loading and unloading hampers or folding clothes afterwards. While we can agree that doing laundry isn’t the most exciting thing you’ll experience in college, it’s a necessary one. Your dorm room storage probably isn’t the biggest, so instead of wishing you had a little more closet space for your garments, think about investing in a clothing rack! They’re a great way to display your most loved pieces of clothing while also helping to keep everything organized. While most students don’t usually pay much mind to the brand of detergent they use, Tide maintains a great balance between thoroughly washing and maintaining the structural integrity of your clothes. Investing in a good detergent pays off when your clothes last much longer than they would’ve using a harsher formula. These, along with other items listed below, can help you gain a greater appreciation for caring for your clothes—a habit that will serve you well beyond your first year in college!

  • Clothes. Your space will be limited, so only bring what you think you will wear. You can always bring more back to school after your first trip home
  • Weather-appropriate outer clothes. You will probably be walking to class; be sure your coat or jacket is right for the climate
  • Laundry basket and/or bag
  • Laundry detergent
  • Bleach
  • Dryer sheets
  • Stain remover stick
  • Underwear
  • Pajamas
  • Socks
  • Shirts
  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Jewelry
  • Sweats
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Sportswear
  • Loungewear
  • Sneakers
  • Boots
  • Sandals
  • Businesswear
  • Dress shoes
  • Swimwear
  • Gloves and scarf
  • Belts
  • Watch
  • Iron or steamer
  • Ironing board
  • Starch
  • Hangers
  • Shoe storage
  • Coat rack
  • Suitcase/ luggage
  • Quarters
  • Lint brush


Your dorm or apartment is going to be your home base for an entire year. Though it may not feel like home when you first move in, there’s a lot you can do to make it a place of relaxation and rejuvenation. Use this as an opportunity to customize the space and try your hand at interior design. Rugs are a great way to bring some life and color to the room, while posters can give the space some character and speak to your interests. If you like to paint or draw in your free time, this is a chance to give yourself and your friends a private art exhibition. Decor isn’t just about looks and aesthetics. It can be functional too! Adding additional seating is a lot more welcoming to guests than a single desk chair and the floor. 

Space management matters a lot in dorms. You’re limited to a small amount of space and might even have to split it with a roommate. Closet organizers and storage hangers keep your wardrobe neat and tidied away so you have more room. No matter how you choose to decorate your dorm, remember to have fun with it and take the time to explore what makes you feel most at home.

  • Posters. You will probably also be able to buy some of these on campus
  • Sticky wall mounts and removable adhesive hooks. Most schools do not allow you to put nails in the walls, so you will need other ways to hang your décor
  • Personal pictures, photos, and other favorite items. Avoid heavy frames, since you may not be able to hang them
  • Curtains and spring rod, if you like them and your school allows them. Some people like this touch in their room
  • Rugs or a piece of carpet if you have vinyl floors, which can be cold and uncomfortable. Check to see if the school allows this
  • Additional seating for guests (Futon, bean bag, pouf)
  • Desk chair
  • Decorative area rug
  • Desk lamp
  • Trashcan
  • Floor lamp
  • Bedside table
  • Bed risers
  • Over the door storage hanger
  • Stepladder
  • Bulletin Board
  • Dry-Erase Markers
  • Fan
  • Curtains
  • Clock
  • Adhesive Hooks
  • Closet Organizer


School Supplies

Set yourself up for success in your classes with some office essentials. Regardless of whether or not you’re a STEM major, chances are you’ll probably be in need of a calculator at some point in college. Although your college most certainly has a printer on campus, it saves a lot of time being able to print essays from the comfort of your own dorm room or apartment. While your laptop works just fine for taking notes, studies have shown that writing notes by hand can improve your understanding of the content and help retain information. Grabbing a pack of writing pads is a solid investment, especially in classes that require revisiting notes often. Pages are also easy to pull out and don’t snag on other things in your backpack like those pesky spiral notebooks from high school. Classes will be hard to adjust to, especially for freshmen, but it’s the little things like supplies that make learning a lot more easy and enjoyable.

  • A sturdy backpack or book bag for everyday use
  • Computer and any necessary supplies/accessories. Some schools also offer great discounts on or provide computers, printers and other electronic necessities
  • Calendar or planner
  • Pens
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Notebooks
  • Binders
  • Paperclips
  • Tablets
  • Sticky notes
  • Highlighters
  • Ruler
  • Calculator
  • Stapler
  • Earphones
  • Extension cord
  • Envelopes
  • Stamps
  • Markers
  • Computer Mouse
  • Desk Storage
  • Index Cards
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Whiteout
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Hole punch
  • Printer paper

Electronics and Equipment

While a laptop and good Internet connection are important, they are now more essential to succeeding in college than ever. Especially with many universities transitioning to online learning for the upcoming school year, it’s important to have a device that can keep you connected to your virtual classrooms.  Between your phone, laptop, and other electronics, two outlets may not be enough to keep everything charged and ready to use when you need it. In times like these, you may find yourself in need of a power strip. They can also be useful for cords that just don’t seem to be long enough to reach your desk or bed. A quality headset is important for online lectures, as you won’t get distracted by white noise and other hindrances that are bound to happen when living in a college dorm. A mouse is another great investment that can save your wrist the pain of using a trackpad all the time. Remember: wireless is the way to go! While these should definitely be on your dorm room packing list, here are a few other things that can help your next school year run smoothly.


Food and Snacks

Your dorm room is probably going to provide a less than satisfactory kitchen area, if any at all. There are lots of great add ons you can bring to make cooking much more feasible. If you’re not already into coffee, midterms week might change your mind. Keeping some at hand at all times may be what gets you through a homework marathon or a long night of cramming before an exam. If you’re feeling fancy, you can even bring a milk frother to level up your morning fix. Grabbing a box of individually packaged snacks is great for eating in between classes, especially when you don’t have a gap for lunch. Although your dorm’s kitchen may not feel like the one at home, don’t let it deter you from making healthy meals for yourself. There are lots of options that are easy to use and convenient to store!

  • Small refrigerator. During the first week of school, schools may have refrigerators and microwaves to rent or buy
  • Microwave, hot plate, coffee maker, etc. Check first–many schools have especially strict safety regulations about these items. Also, find out what communal kitchen space may be available
  • Plastic cups
  • Microwave-safe bowls
  • Food storage containers
  • Coffee mug
  • Water bottle
  • Dish soap
  • Scrubber
  • Small dish towel
  • Foil
  • Napkins
  • Disposable forks and spoons
  • Can opener
  • Oven mitt
  • Pot & Pan
  • Ziplock bags
  • Popcorn
  • Chips
  • Sodas
  • Bottled water
  • Cereal
  • Granola bars
  • Soup
  • Condiments
  • Juice boxes
  • Peanut butter & jelly
  • Sandwich meat
  • Bread
  • Fruit snacks


It would be terrible to get stuck inside a building for hours just because you forgot to pack an umbrella. Even worse, imagine getting completely soaked on your way to class. Keeping a mini umbrella in your backpack at all times can help you prepare for any unplanned weather changes. If you plan on bringing a bike, you should absolutely be bringing a bike lock as well! Trust us when we say you’ll need one when you store your bike on campus. 

While a cash box may not seem necessary, you can always use it to lock up other valuables if you don’t carry cash on you. Similarly, a tool box surprisingly comes in handy in a lot of situations. If you’re bringing your own furniture to add to the room, you’ll definitely need one to assemble and disassemble it when you move in and out of your dorm. Don’t let the fact that these items are labeled as “miscellaneous” trick you into thinking that they’re any less important than other categories we’ve mentioned! They’re as equally as essential in helping make your college life easier.

  • Umbrella
  • A small and inexpensive toolkit.
  • A large backpack or shoulder bag for possible weekend trips you might take
  • Car registration & insurance
  • Medical insurance card
  • Driver’s license
  • Student ID
  • Social security card
  • Financial aid forms
  • Debit card
  • Emergency contacts
  • Bicycle
  • Bike lock
  • Safety pins
  • Flashlight
  • Dolly (you’ll need it for moving boxes and furniture from your car to the dorm)


Dorm Product

10 Dorm Room Essentials for Your Freshman Year

Getting ready to move away from home for the first time can be both a fun and nerve wracking experience. With those emotions can also come some feelings of uncertainty of what to expect and how to best prepare for a great freshman year. But never fear, we’re here to help!

Dorming is a unique and exciting part of college life, and as you prepare to pack for your big move don’t forget these ten essentials.

1. Comfortable bedding
Creating a comfortable bed that you love is essential when moving into your dorm space. Pick bedding that makes your room feel like your home away from home. Cozy pillows, blankets, and sheets will really elevate your space. Remember your bed will be a Twin XL size.

Dorm Room Essentials - Comfortable bedding

2. Storage containers
Storage is key to keeping your things organized when living in a dorm. Storage containers are a great thing to keep under your bed to organize extra clothes, snacks, shoes, etc. They keep your room neat and you are able to find things much quicker.

Dorm Room Essentials - Storage containers

3. Shower Caddy/Shower Shoes
A shower caddy is a great way to keep your personal items organized and makes trips to the shower much easier with everything in one place.

Dorm Room Essentials - Shower Caddy/Shower Shoes

4. Masks
One of the many great things happening at Mount Saint Vincent this fall is in person classes! Make sure to pack some masks to wear around campus and during class (though not required, but encouraged). Bring a few so you can swap out masks after wearing them for the day!

Dorm Room Essentials - Masks

5. Cleaning Supplies
Keep your dorm feeling fresh and clean by bringing a small supply of cleaning products. Things such as Clorox wipes, Lysol spray, a broom/Swiffer are easy ways to keep your room clean. Don’t forget laundry detergent! Using laundry detergent pods are a great way to easily do your laundry in between classes or after a study session with your friends.

Dorm Room Essentials - Cleaning Supplies

6. Microwave and Mini Fridge
A microwave and mini fridge are great for making meals on the go, storing leftovers, and snacks. Make sure to coordinate with your roommate since only one of each is allowed in the room.

Dorm Room Essentials - Microwave and Mini Fridge

7. Decorations
Make your dorm truly feel like a home away from home with some great personal touches. Bringing posters, photos of family and friends, and fun decor which makes the dorm feel like your own unique space.

Dorm Room Essentials - Decorations

8. Removable hooks
With all those decorations you will need a way to hang them! Removable hooks are the easiest way to hang any type of decor you bring. The removable hooks are a damage free way to decorate your room (especially since it is against the rules to put holes in your walls).

Dorm Room Essentials - Removable hooks

9. School Supplies
Notebooks, planners, pens, folders, highlighter, etc. will set you up for success for your first college class. Dedicate a folder and notebook to each class as an easy way to keep your different lecture notes in one accessible place.

Dorm Room Essentials - School Supplies

10. Laptop
A personal laptop is great for taking notes in class as well as completing your first college assignments. There is wifi all across campus so staying connected is easy!

Dorm Room Essentials - Laptop

Happy packing! We cannot wait to see you on campus in a few short weeks.

Dorm Product

college dorm essentials you’ll actually use

A little wastebasket to keep your room clean

Mesh Metal Wastebasket, $2.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond

It’s easy to let trash pile up in your dorm room, but having a trashcan will at least help contain that mess. A lot of dorms have giant trash and recycling bins scattered throughout, but don’t have anything in the actual rooms. These wastebaskets are small enough that they can be hidden in the corners of your room, but they’re big enough to actually hold a good amount of garbage to make sure your surfaces are visible, and hopefully, clean.


A comforter that feels like your favorite t-shirt

Room Essentials Down-Alternative Comforter

Most likely, you won’t be able to control the temperature of your dorm room, so having a warm comforter is essential. Target’s Room Essentials comforter is the best budget option we’ve tested, with moderate thickness and a soft outer shell.


A dorm-safe way to keep your space smelling fresh

Urpower 2nd Generation Essential Oil Diffuse at Amazon

Most dorms don’t allow candles, which makes an essential oil diffuser perfect for college-sanctioned scent and ambiance. The Urpower diffuser is under $20, has a six-hour run time, and saturated our tester’s room with scent.


A quirky mug

Peekaboo Ceramic Mug, at Urban Outfitters

Instead of swiping them from the dining hall, bring your own mug to college — bonus points if it is as cute as this peekaboo one. A mug that you love is a little thing that can help make a dorm room feel more like home.  


A set of sheets that is cozy and cool at the same time

Brooklinen Classic Core Sheet Set, for a Twin XL

These cozy percale sheets only get better with time. With each wash, the breathable fabric softens— a good incentive to do your laundry. Each set comes with a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and two pillowcases.

Dorm Product

Must-Have College Dorm Essentials on Amazon


        Setting up a dorm room can be a daunting experience for incoming students and parents alike. After years of preparation, applications, advisement and setting your class schedule, it’s the final step in transitioning to life as a college student. As if that weren’t intimidating enough, there are also so many oddly specific things about living in a dorm that are hard to know if you’ve never done it before (for instance, the infamous Twin XL bed size), so shopping for your dorm room can be a challenge.

        To make matters a bit easier, we’ve rounded up Amazon’s most popular dorm room essentials that every college student needs, backed by 500+ reviews with a minimum 4-star rating. From a top-rated power strip to a comfy sleep mask to a handy shower caddy, these are affordable, practical dorm living must-haves that you might not think to pick up when you’re having fun planning the perfect dorm decor. Now, the only thing you or your freshman (or sophomore or junior or senior) needs is a top-tested mini fridge.


Twin XL Microfiber Sheet Set


Gel-Infused Cooling Mattress Topper, Twin XL


Eye Sleep Mask


AeroSlim Cordless Handheld Vacuum

Dorm Product

Best thing in the dorm

Ear Plugs

buy now at

Whether you’re trying to study while everyone else is blasting music or you’re struggling to sleep thanks to your roommate’s snoring, these ear plugs will be your school time saviors. And at just $8, they won’t cut into your meager discretionary savings in the slightest. And for more sage advice on scoring a healthy eight hours, learn the 11 Doctor-Approved Secrets for Falling Asleep Faster—Tonight.

Waterproof Mattress Encasement

buy now at

From bed bugs to bacteria, there’s no shortage of things that can sneak into the crevices of your mattress and destroy it. So to protect your bed—and yourself–from any damage or diseases, you should always have a waterproof encasement covering your mattress. With a sheet covering it, you’ll hardly even notice it’s there!

Lap Desk


buy now at

Every college student pulls at least one all-nighter during their four years. And when your late night inevitably arrives—likely during finals—you can study from the comfort of your bed, all thanks to a lap desk. This one in particular even has a special slot for your phone, so you can pull up any relevant study guides while meticulously memorizing course material.

Bed Risers


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College dorm rooms aren’t exactly known for being spacious. One way to make the most of the small space you have is with bed risers, which elevate your bed to create extra storage. And some bed rises come equipped with outlets and USB ports, making it easy to use your phone in bed while it juices up. And for more amazing bed accessories, don’t miss the 10 Best Pillows For A Better Night’s Sleep.

Bathroom Caddy


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Some newer college dormitories have individual bathrooms in each room or suite, but the more common set-up is a floor-shared communal bathroom with multiple showers. And since you can’t leave your things in a shared shower, where people might toss them out, the best thing to do is to invest in a shower caddy that can keep your items organized and easily transportable.


The best dorm room essentials for college students

Linenspa shredded foam pillow

Linenspa shredded foam pillow

Comfort is key to dorm living, which is why we recommend an oversized reading pillow like this one from Linenspa. It helps change up your seating position so you’re not in your desk chair all the time, and it’s definitely a lot more comfortable than just piling up bed pillows against the wall. The pillow is filled with shredded memory foam so it won’t put a lot of stress on your back, plus it comes with a soft velour cover. That posture support makes it great for reading, playing games or watching TV. As a bonus, there’s also a handle on the top that makes it easy to carry around.

Buy Linenspa pillow at Amazon

Pure Green 100% Natural Latex mattress topper

Pure Green 100% Natural Latex mattress topper
Pure Green

Chances are, the bed in your dorm room isn’t very comfortable. It’s also probably not easy (or cost effective) to change the mattress. That’s why we recommend getting a mattress topper: It’s the one way to control how your bed feels without spending a lot of money. We prefer a natural latex option like this one from Pure Green because it delivers comfort and support without the sinking feeling of memory foam. It also won’t absorb much body heat, which helps keep you cool throughout the night. Pure Green sells its mattress topper in three different thicknesses — from one inch to three — to fit your particular needs. Opt for the 1- or 2-inch if you want firm or medium-firm, or spring for the 3-inch model if you prefer a something softer.

Buy mattress pad at Amazon

Lunya Sleep Mask

Lunya Sleep Mask

Roommate pulling an all-nighter with the lights on? Want to catch some z’s in the afternoon in between classes? Or maybe you’re just particularly sensitive to light? If you can relate to any of this, we recommend getting a sleep mask to make it easier for you to drift off into dreamland. This one from Lunya is one of our personal favorites because it completely blocks out light and feels comfortable to boot; it’s like wearing pillows on your eyes. We tend to prefer this model over masks with eye cups because it’s not quite as bulky. The Lunya’s wide elasticized band will fit most people and it even covers the ears, which helps reduce noise. It’s also machine washable, so you can easily keep it clean.

Buy sleep mask at Lunya

Anyday cookware

Anyday cookware

You’re probably not allowed to have an Instant Pot in your dorm room, but one kitchen appliance that almost always gets the thumbs up is a microwave. Sure, you can use it to heat up frozen dinners, but why not try it to cook actual dishes as well? Anyday’s line of microwave cookware lets you do exactly that. Everything is microwave safe, including the stainless steel rim (its smooth and curved shape prevents electrical arcing). Its primary feature is its lid, which has a knob that can vent excess steam when it is lifted. Thanks to this innovation, you can make everything from mac and cheese to a breakfast burrito using only your microwave. For college students, we recommend the medium dish set — they’re sized just right for solo diners.

Shop Anyday cookware

Black + Decker 20V Max handheld vacuum

Black + Decker 20V Max handheld vacuum

One of the first lessons you’ll likely learn as a college student is that you’ll have no one to clean up after you. That means doing your own laundry and yes, cleaning your own room. The easiest way to do so is with a handheld vacuum, like the Black+Decker 20V Max. It only weighs three pounds so it’s lightweight enough for you to clean your whole room without a lot of fuss. It has a pivoting nozzle which makes it ideal for getting around tight corners and hard-to-reach shelves. Its high-performance motor provides plenty of suction and its 15-ounce capacity is large enough for most dorm rooms. The bowl and filter are removable so you can give them a good wash in between uses. It’s also overall easy to use and fairly affordable, two things you can’t often say about fancy, expensive vacuums.

Buy Black + Decker vacuum at Amazon 


5 dorm essentials to put on your list

5 dorm essentials to put on your list

1. Twin XL sheets

There is no place other than a college dorm where your teen will need Twin XL sheets and you will find dozens of retailers that sell this unique size. Shop online — Amazon is easy but we are big fans of Pottery Barn Teen and think their selection of dorm furnishings is worth a look for their range of styles, high-quality, commitment to sustainable manufacturing, and range of price points. You can also buy online and pick up at a Pottery Barn, West Elm, or Williams Sonoma store in your teen’s new college town which makes shipping bulky items much easier.

You can also visit actual stores like Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond and touch and feel different types of sheeting fabric before buying. Note, only the fitted sheet has to be Twin XL size and many students have abandoned the idea of a top sheet and use a comforter, instead.

Extra: While shopping for sheets your teen might want to choose the comforter, duvet, or blanket if they do not already have something warm they plan to bring from home. These can be regular twin or even larger to use on a future Queen size bed.

Some retailers have “bundles” where you can buy everything for the bath and bed in one purchase. This is a great solution for any teen who is less than excited about spending hours dorm shopping with you. One click, done!

pottery barn bedding bundle

2. IKEA Frakta Bag

These blue bags have achieved cult status in the Grown and Flown community and they are available at Amazon, as well as IKEA. They are lightweight, durable, and fold flat for easy storing. The bags are invaluable for moving into and out of dorms and can be used as under-bed storage for your teen, too.

ikea bags

3. Towels

You can bring bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths from home or buy a new set for your teen. We think getting them in a unique color or having them monogrammed will help your son or daughter keep up with their own towels in a shared bath and laundry room. Students will want two sets of towels and these quick-drying ones from Pottery Barn Teen, are available in 13 pretty colors.

Pottery barn towels

4. Surge protector with USB ports

Surge protectors will protect expensive electronics from a power surge and they also have multiple outlets and/or USB ports for all the electronic devices that students bring with them to college. They are preferable to extension cords which are banned by many schools. This one has a six-foot cord and two USB ports for charging electronics.

surge protector

5. Bed Pillow

This is another item that your teen can bring from home. However, if you’re buying a new one, this #1-rated pillow (Good Housekeeping) from COOP Home Goods will not get flat or lumpy and gets rave reviews.

COOP pillow

Dorm Room Storage Ideas for the Most Organized Room Ever–3

1. Laundry hamper

A person wearing a laundry hamper than has backpack straps.

When laundry day rolls around, you can easily close the drawstring top of this bag and carry it to the laundry room on your back.

So your floor doesn’t become a pile of dirty clothes (let’s be honest, it still may anyway), grab a laundry hamper to stow away dirty clothes and towels. Washers and dryers are often down the hall or in the basement of dorm buildings, so you’ll need to consider transporting it easily, too.

This backpack-style laundry hamper from Dalykate makes it easy to throw in your clothes throughout the week. That way, when laundry day rolls around, you can easily close the drawstring top and carry it down on your back.

Buy at Amazon

2. Trash bin

A blue step trashcan against a purple, blue, and orange background.

Seek out a trash bin that has a lid to keep trash out of site.

You won’t realize you need one until you need to toss away a sticky note or tissue—a trash can will come in handy at just the right moment.

You’ll want to get a waste basket that’s small enough to not take up much space and has a lid to keep trash out of site. This trashcan from mDesign also has a step for hands-free use.

Buy at Amazon

3. Disinfectant wipes

A 3-pack of Clorox wipes against a blue and green background.

Clorox disinfectant wipes are a great option for dorm life because they’re pre-moistened and easy to use on a variety of surfaces.

With the amount of living that happens in a dorm room, it’s guaranteed that you’ll have germs moving in, too. But don’t worry about bringing in a full closet’s worth of cleaning supplies.

Instead, choose one great product that’s EPA-certified to kill all types of bacteria and viruses, such as the COVID-19 virus, from hard surfaces. Clorox disinfectant wipes are a great option because they’re pre-moistened and easy to use.

Buy at Amazon

4. First aid kit

A Dorm Doc bag against a teal background.

The DormDoc first aid kit is a compact package containing all the supplies you could potentially need in a pinch.

Going off to college will remind you not to take for granted the bandages and ibuprofen your parents have always had handy when you needed it. You’ll want to bring your own first aid supplies because dorm living can lead to cuts, colds, and unexpected accidents.

The DormDoc first aid kit is a compact package and a great option if you’re overwhelmed with what supplies you could potentially need all in a convenient package. Consider yourself the de facto parent of the dorm floor when all your friends have a cut or cold they need tending to.

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5. A big mug

A ceramic mug posed with similar looking mugs against a pink background.

A big mug will serve you for coffee, tea, water, ramen, and mac and cheese.

If you’re overwhelmed at the prospect of bringing an entire set of silverware, plates or cooking equipment to the dorm room, don’t stress. Start small!

The one item on your dorm room checklist that will get you through your day-to-day is a big mug that you can fill with water, coffee or even a bowl of cereal. We like this Bosmarlin mug, which is over 20 ounces and is both microwave- and dishwasher-safe.

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Dorm Room Storage Ideas for the Most Organized Room Ever–2

1. Over-the-door hooks

Over-the-door hooks hanging from a white door with towels and robes.
Credit: Bed, Bath, & Beyond

Over-the-door hooks require no installation, and provide extra storage for your wet towels and winter jackets.

You’ll have limited closet and hanger space in your dorm room so an over-the-door hook rack like this 10-hook rack from iDesign, is a must. These require no installation, and they provide extra storage for your wet towels and winter jackets. They can hang from your dorm room door or a closet door.

Buy at Bed Bath & Beyond


2. LED desk lamp

A young person working under a bright desk lamp.
Credit: Cozoo

This lamp has everything: storage and charging capabilities.

        The overhead lighting in dorm rooms can be harsh, more like being in a doctor’s office than the place you’re supposed to be studying or relaxing. With this in mind, you’ll want to bring your own lighting to give your eyes a break and create a chill ambiance.

If you want something for your desk that provides extra organization, get a desk lamp, like the Cozoo LED desk lamp, that’s also a desk organizer and can hold pens and other supplies. The adjustable head can change positions along with you when you’re spending late nights at the desk. Plus it has a charging port to keep your cell phone charged overnight.

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3. A power strip

A gray power strip against a light pink background.

We recommend a power strip with USB ports so you don’t need a power converter when it comes time to charge.

        When you walk into your dorm room, the first thing you should do is look for electrical outlets. This will help you and your roommate set up your layout so that you can conveniently charge all your devices without climbing under or behind furniture. You’ll need the help of a power outlet for easy charging.

        You’ve got options when it comes to power strips. We recommend this Globe Electric model from Bed Bath & Beyond with USB ports. You can plug in USB charging cords without needing a power converter.

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4. Clothing hangers

Clothes hanging from wire hangers against a brick background.

For small closets, go for something sleek and compact.

Your dorm closet will be tiny, guaranteed, so you’ll want a slim hanger that will let you pack in clothes, like the Timmy wire hangers. These hangers are sleek and won’t cramp your clothing.

They’re sturdy and durable and can handle everything from T-shirts to a winter jacket. They’re affordable, too, with a 40-pack coming in at just under $25.

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5. Over-the-door shoe organizer

Against an orange and teal background are two views of an over the door shoe organizer.

To maximize storage without taking up more square footage, add an over-the-door shoe organizer.

Most dorm rooms come with a wardrobe and a set of drawers. To maximize storage without taking up more square footage, add an over-the-door shoe organizer, like the 24-pocket SimpleHouseware organizer, a great tool for keeping your shoes from being scattered across the floor.

These organizers are also helpful for storing accessories, scissors, or anything else you want to keep close by, but still tucked away.

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Dorm Room Storage Ideas for the Most Organized Room Ever

Creating a college packing list can be overwhelming. The excitement and nerves of newly gained independence is thrilling. As you prepare to move into your college dorm for the first time ever, you may be unsure of the right dorm essentials.

To make back-to-school shopping easier, we’ve put together a list of dorm essentials that every student needs for a successful dorm room experience.

Here are the 22 dorm essentials you need to bring to college.

1. Bedding

A person sitting on a dorm room bed covered in Twin XL sheets.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

QVC’s Home Reflections Sheet set is soft and cozy but holds up in the wash.

Dorm rooms are a place to rest and sleep, so make sure that your bed helps you get the job done. Dorm beds are traditionally Twin XL sizing, so we put the best Twin XL sheets to the test, and we found QVC’s Home Reflections cotton sheet set to be the best. They’re soft and cozy feel, and hold up well in the wash.

Pro tip: Buy two sets so you’ve got a spare on laundry day.

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2. Pillows

A white pillow sitting at the head of a bed.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Amazon Basics Down-alternative pillows are a great, affordable option no matter which way you sleep.

Depending on which side you sleep on, there’s a pillow for everyone. We rounded up the best pillows for back sleepers to side sleepers to stomach sleepers.


The Amazon Basics Down-alternative pillows are a great option no matter which way you sleep.

You’ll also want to add a pillow protector like this one from Amazon Basics to keep away dirt, dust mites, and general grime of day-to-day use. You can throw these in the wash alongside your bedding to refresh your pillows easily.

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3. A mattress topper

A Casper mattress topper sitting on top of a mattress and box spring.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

A mattress topper will be the most important purchase you made for your college dorm.

Dorm mattresses can be impossible to sleep on comfortably unless you bring a mattress topper—trust me, I speak from experience.

Beyond any appliances you purchase, a mattress topper will be the biggest purchase you make.

This is an absolute dorm essential so avoid the cheap foam models that will flatten after a few months. Invest in one that has high-quality memory foam that bounces back day after day. Casper makes our favorite mattress topper, which expands quickly out of the box and is super supportive for a goodnight’s sleep.

Buy at Casper

4. Bath towels

A white towel sitting on a table.
Credit: Reviewed / Camryn Rabideau

Our best value bath towels are soft, absorbent, and affordable.

Whether you have a bathroom en suite or down the hall, make sure you have a plush towel that is absorbent and comfortable. Make sure to have at least two towels to rotate between. If you have to walk down the hall post-shower, size up to a bath sheet so you have a towel that is full coverage.


Our best value option, the Pinzon Organic Cotton Bath Sheet, is great because it’s soft and absorbent while also coming in 2- or 4-packs in a variety of colors to match your personal style.

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5. A shower caddy

A mesh shower caddy sitting next to a sink.
Credit: CDDLR

Seek out a shower caddy made from lightweight mesh for quick drying.

Regardless of where your shower is located in your dorm, storing your toiletries in a shower caddy allows for easy transport and organization. We like this one from CDDLR that’s constructed of a quick-drying mesh fabric material that’s less bulky than a hard plastic option. Plus, it’s flexible enough to tuck away into a small space or hang from a hook to let it dry.

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