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

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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. Also, if you’re working within a tight budget check out our $500 College Packing List. Good luck!

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links to products and services. We may receive commissions for purchases made through these links.

Bath and Bedding

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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


  • 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

The Affordable College Packing List Where You Spend $500 or less

School Supplies

  • 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

Food and Snacks

  • 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


  • 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)


More Helpful Guides

Best Forms of On-Campus Transportation

Becoming a Leader on Your College Campus

13 Useful Services and Resources to look for During a College Visit

Guide to Meeting College Admissions Officers

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