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Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.
  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Deciding what stays, what goes, and what to buy can be a daunting task for any college freshman. Relax!  We’ve helped thousands of families take the plunge into college life. We’ve compiled the absolute, hands-down best college dorm room checklist to make shopping this summer easier. Need the complete list of dorm room essentials? Check out our 2023 shoppable guide.

We know that through the excitement of preparing for freshman move-in day, everyone is bound to neglect adding at least a few dorm essentials on their college packing list. While our checklist includes the easy to remember supplies like twin xl dorm bedding and even affordable dorm bedding sets, we’ve also included items only dorm life veterans would remember to bring. 

Happy shopping!

Dorm Bedding

When you think of packing for college, your mind probably goes right to bedding. These are perhaps the most essential dorm room essentials. Getting your bedding situation taken care of ensures the rest of your school year will be cozy and comfortable, which is just what you want it to be.

College dorm room beds are a pretty standard twin XL size, which despite the extra-large name can feel small to those who are used to double- or queen-sized beds. The goal in choosing college bedding is to make your dorm bed as comfortable as possible, since sleep plays such a crucial role in your overall health.  

Dorm bed mattresses tend to be firm and not very comfortable because firm mattresses are more durable than soft ones, and they're easier to keep clean. To make your bed a soft oasis, you'll want to buy a mattress topper designed to fit your Twin XL bed – it’ll cushion your body in all the right ways after a hard day of school, work, and homework. 


Universities don't supply pillows, pillowcases, or twin XL sheets, so make sure you pack those as well. If you’re wanting to be safe, some people pack two sets of sheets, just in case you ruin the first set. Adding a fleece throw and twin XL comforter for colder nights will also feel like a giant hug from Mom while you're away. Plus, when it's not so chilly out, you can sleep on top of the comforter if you need extra fluff!

Don’t be shy to bring your favorite stuffed animals as well to make your bed extra comfortable. You will definitely feel a deal of security when you get to cuddle up with your fluffy friend at night. 

Dorm bedding with green comforter and white sheets. 
Purchasing a bedding bundle for your dorm will ensure that you have all the bedding materials you need. Image courtesy of Dormify

Dormify offers bedding bundles that include all of your essential dorm bedding needs in one value-priced package, but if you plan on shopping around the Dormify site to select your bedding items individually, be sure to include these essentials:

  • Extra-long twin sheets
  • Comforter
  • Mattress pad
  • Pillow(s) and pillow cases
  • Blanket

Want to take your dorm room bedding to the next level? Some other add-ons that you may want to add to your cart include:

  • Blankets
  • Decorative Throw Pillows
  • Bedside Lamp
  • Reading Pillow
  • Bed Risers
  • Clip on Comfort Fan
  • Bedside Caddy
dormify bedding and wall art
Image courtesy of Dormify

Dorm Room Decor

It’s easy to go through college leaving the walls blank and the room undecorated.  But it wouldn’t be that home-away-from-home that you need it to be!  Giving your dorm room a personal touch with decor that fits your lifestyle and personality is important to your comfort.  If you’re comfortable in your room, it will be the sanctuary for rest that you need it to be.  

dormify wavy neon mirror
Amplify your room with some unique wall decor, like this Maeve Wavy Neon Mirror. Image courtesy of Dormify.

Consider posters, photos (with or without frames), canvas art, or wall decals to add your own touch and occupy some of that giant blank wall space. Some more useful or practical ideas include a full-length mirror, area rugs (those bare floors are cold!), or a dry erase board. Bean bag chairs, ottomans, futons, or pouf pillows create extra seating options for both you and visitors.  

Bring in some indoor plants to liven up your room, just be sure to be taking care of them! Or if you don’t trust yourself, you can bring in fake plants and planters to decorate the area.

Remember to pick up 3M adhesive products including command strips to secure your wall decor. Consider buying a few basic tools– like a screwdriver, hammer and nails– just in case you need to make a few small repairs if something breaks. Don’t forget to look up your school’s policies on wall decor to be safe on what you can and can’t use!

Be sure to pick up these decorating essentials for your dorm room:

  • Desk lamp & bulbs
  • Floor lamp & bulbs
  • Refrigerator (max 4 cubic ft!)
  • Wall decor (we love tapestries, string lights, and photo displays)
  • Fan (large and/or clip on)

Study & Electronics

The ultimate job of a student in college is to learn. Learning means going to class, communicating with classmates and professors, doing homework and studying. To accomplish all of this, you’re going to need the necessary supplies.  

A desk lamp illuminates your studying space long into the night. A bulletin board or dry erase board provides a highly visual way to stay organized and on top of assignments and due dates. 

Bedside table with books and lit table lamp.
Set up a lamp beside your bed to illuminate your bedside at night. Image courtesy of Dormify.

Remember to bring your laptop and charger!  In fact, remember all of your chargers– and keep them neatly wrapped and organized. It’s a good idea to bring extra usb flash drives or hard drives to back up your files.

Invest in a good pair of earbuds or noise-canceling headphones to block out any distractions while studying. 

Most colleges provide students with computer labs and stocked printers, but you may want to bring your own anyway.  Sometimes there are restrictions on student printing, and you don’t want to reach your limit and still need to print that last essay.  If you choose to bring your own printer, stock up on ink and computer paper, too.  

Make sure you keep a wall calendar around and an alarm clock– we know that most people use their phones these days, but back-ups are always a good idea and what if your cell phone dies in the middle of the night or breaks? You still need to wake up on time for class! By the way, if you need to compare phone plans and get yourself an amazing deal, check out really.com/compare.

And don’t forget a killer backpack or messenger bag– gotta have enough room for those massive college textbooks! 

  • Notebooks, planners, binders, and folders
  • Computer & charger
  • Cell phone & charger
  • Power Strips/ Surge protector
  • Earbuds/ headphones
  • USB flash drive/ hard drives
  • TV & coaxial cable
  • Dry erase board & markers
  • Pens, pencils, and highlighters
  • Desk Organizer
  • Sticky Notes & index cards
  • Backpack or messenger bag
  • Scissors/Stapler, tape, paperclips, and rubber bands
  • Calculator
  • Dictionary/Thesaurus

Dorm Bath Essentials

Washing up in college is a lot like showering after gym class– it’s not fun to share a bathroom, but it’s necessary. To make showering and sharing a bathroom easier, make sure you stay organized and keep your items in a shower caddy. Use a shower tote to carry your towels to the shower and your dirty laundry back to your dorm room afterwards. 

And make sure that you wear shower sandals or flip flops while you’re in the shower– you don’t want to pick up a foot fungus or nasty skin condition from someone else! Large, fluffy bath towels will complete your basic shower experience, but a word of advice– don’t use sponges or shower loofahs. Those things carry germs! It’s better to buy a pack of washcloths to use once or twice before throwing in the laundry. They’re easier to keep clean and better for the environment.  

Woman carrying a shower caddy in her dorm room.‍
Shower caddies will make transporting your toiletries to the bathroom way easier. Image courtesy of Dormify

For students who have an in-suite bathroom to share, check in with your roomies to evenly split up the cost of a bathmat, shower curtain and hooks, trash can and in-shower traction grippers (to prevent slips and falls in the shower). Add some cleaning supplies to your list since you and roommates are most likely in charge of cleaning your bathroom. 

Overall, make sure you check these bathroom items and toiletries off your shopping list before move-in:

  • Towels and washcloths
  • Shower shoes/flip flops
  • Shower caddy

And some bonus items to consider: 

  • Shower resistant radio
  • Fog free shower mirror
  • Shower drain hair catcher

Laundry & Cleaning Supplies

You’re a young adult now– it’s time to clean up after yourself. Don’t let clutter and dirt make your dorm room a place you can’t stand to occupy!  

Most dorm rooms have bare floors that aren’t carpeted. A broom and dustpan and a Swiffer Sweeper– or a knockoff brand– will keep your floor spic and span. A waste basket and trash can liners are necessary, and don’t forget antibacterial wipes and disinfectant spray to keep germs at bay!  

Since most dorms restrict the use of candles, opt in to buying air fresheners to keep the room from smelling foul. 

If you do bring any small rugs or carpet, bringing a small vacuum will help clean them up on occasion. 

 A woman carrying a laundry bag backpack.
A laundry bag backpack will make transferring your laundry simpler. Image courtesy of Dormify.  

You’re the only one responsible for doing your laundry, too.  Stock up on detergent and dryer sheets– and if you use it, fabric softener– and remember to stock up on quarters or load money onto your laundry account.  Check with Resident Life to see how to pay for your laundry. 

Have a drying rack with you too – it can save money on the drier, and you’ll need it to preserve your delicates!  It’s also not a bad idea to include an iron and a mini ironing board, but check to see if your dorm’s laundry room has these first.  Again, it’s a simple call to Res Life or a click on the website to check before move-in day!    

Stain removers are another important laundry product to take note of. You never know when your next stain will happen and you will be glad to be prepared.

And remember basic cleaning products like disinfectant wipes and glass cleaner for your furniture and mirrors. No sense in spreading germs or trying to see your reflection through dust and grime!  

Overall, we recommend grabbing these laundry and cleaning essentials:

  • Laundry bag/basket
  • HE Detergent
  • Stain remover
  • Dryer sheets
  • Drying rack
  • Iron (auto-shut off)
  • Ironing board
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Disinfectant Spray
  • Air fresheners/ Fabric fresheners
  • Paper towels
  • Small vacuum

Cooking & Food

Most colleges and universities provide their students with meal plans and food options. However, these are not always open 24 hours a day, and sometimes you just get hungry at midnight! 

Keeping some food and kitchen supplies on hand is always a good idea – just make sure to check with your college about any restrictions. For example, most colleges won’t allow electric burners or hotplates in the dorm rooms. Sometimes dormitories are equipped with kitchenettes, which is lucky.  

Some kitchen basics to consider include at least one bowl, cup or mug, plate, and set of silverware so that you can eat like a human being anytime you want. Dish soap, towels and dishcloth – avoid sponges that can accumulate germs – help with cleanup.  

Check to see if your dorm will provide a microwave and/or refrigerator. A dorm-safe refrigerator is a must-have to keep food from going bad, and to keep some basic groceries around and snacks like packaged dill pickle popcorn to help avoid midnight orders of pizza or takeout.

Most dorms do not allow coffee makers, so check first before you bring one with you! You do want to consider a water filter pitcher for your room as some water systems aren’t that clean. Other than that, a can opener and reusable, microwave-safe containers are some other great kitchen necessities as well.

Make sure you pack:

  • Food storage containers
  • Dish ware/silverware
  • Can opener
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Water filter pitcher and extra filters

Storage & Organization

Dorm rooms are notoriously tiny. Even if it looks big when you arrive, it will start looking smaller as you try to pack an entire year's worth of clothes and supplies into it! Storage and organization items are essential to keeping your room stocked on all of your essentials without letting it spiral into chaos (trust us, it's seriously distracting to try studying in a cluttered room). Armored trunks store tons of stuff, and they're cute enough that they can also double as decor. 

hanging closet storage

Hanging closet storage is perfect for preserving space, and under-the-bed storage boxes save on space while keeping your out-of-season blankets and clothes close at hand. Don't skip these essential items for keeping your room organized and clutter-free:

  • Hanging storage solutions
  • Under bed storage
  • Hangers
  • Full-length mirror
  • Trash/recycle bins
  • Trunk or storage bins
  • Lock box
Image courtesy of Dormify

Fun & Games

Playtime is not just for toddlers– everyone benefits from the stress release of playing.  However, your definition of fun and games has probably grown up with you.  If you’re a gamer, remember to pack your favorite games and any equipment– like a gaming system– you may need to play them. 

 A TV and DVD player– if you have the room for it– can go a long way towards making you feel like you’re watching movies at home. However, modern computers and streaming services can help you save the space those items would take up for other things– like textbooks or a charging station.  

Double-check to see if you’ve packing a few surge protectors– trust us, regular strip outlets just won’t cut it! Plus, some schools restrict the use of power strips in general and instead encourage you to have a surge protector. You may also need an extension cord or two to make your furniture arrangements work, and pack back-up batteries for anything that requires them. 

For other free-time activities, bring a few leisure books or puzzle books to train your brain in your down time. Card games and board games are also fun items to bring to play along with friends. 

For filling your free time with fun, make sure you pack:

  • Gaming system & accessories
  • Sports equipment
  • Card games/Board games

Personal Supplies

A woman folding and packing her clothes into a suitcase. 
Packing can be less stressful when you focus on the necessities. 

Finally, you need to include supplies for self-care and medicine in case you get sick.  If you take any prescriptions, make sure that you either have enough to get through a semester or you have a pharmacy nearby that can refill them for you. It’s also a good idea to keep a list of your allergies and prescriptions both in your purse/backpack and tacked to your dorm room wall in case of emergencies.  

For minor illness, keep a first-aid kit around and include a thermometer and some basic over-the-counter medicines. Keeping a few masks on hand isn’t a bad idea either for when you get sick and don’t want to spread it. Your college or university probably has a nurse or student health center, but they won’t always be open.  

You’re also going to need some self-care time, so packing a small kit with anything that serves that purpose is a good idea. This could look like facial masks, fragrant room sprays, and tea.  

And finally, make 100% sure that you have copies of super-important documents! These might include: passport/visa, atm or debit card, credit cards, social security card, and your birth certificate. Have a list of all important numbers for family members, and remember your checkbook and driver’s license or state ID. Keep all of this in a fire-and-water-safe lockbox. And keep it locked!  

Oh yes.. And an umbrella, a raincoat, or a flashlight aren’t bad ideas, either! You never know what the weather will be like– or if the power will go out! Consider a few LED battery-powered candles, too. You probably can’t have the real deal, but the ambiance is lovely and if they are a lovely light source during power outages.  

Keeping a sewing kit on hand is good for when you’re in need of a quick clothing fix. 

These personal items round out our college packing checklist:

  • First aid kit
  • Sewing kit
  • Thermometer
  • Prescription/OTC medications
  • Face masks
  • Flashlight/batteries
  • Sunglasses
  • Self care necessities
  • Umbrella/ rain gear
  • ATM and credit cards
  • Drivers license
  • Insurance cards
  • Passport/visa

That’s it for our dorm essential packing guide!

Now that you know what to pack and what not to pack, start packing away! Packing won’t be as stressful as long as you focus on buying and bringing the necessities. Checking with your school’s guidelines on dorm items will also clear up any confusion and stress you have.