Move-In Day! The Giant List of Dorm Essentials You Really Don’t Want to Forget!

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list of dorm essentials

It’s move-in time! You might be scanning your packed bags one last time or you might already be unpacking in your new dorm. Either way, here’s a big list of dorm essentials you’ll need for a successful year:

Your Dorm Room

dorm essentials

Your dorm is your bedroom/living room/hangout area/office all rolled into one. Here’s what you’ll need:

Extra long sheets – Dorm beds are generally longer than usual so be sure to get the right size. Get a couple for when you don’t have time for laundry.

Pillows – I forget to bring my pillow every time I go away overnight. It’ll be an uncomfortable first night if you forget yours.

Comforter – get something cute and cozy that makes you happy every time you see it.

Throw pillows – They’re cute, add to the character of the room, and perfect for having friends over to watch movies.

Bedside Lamp – No need to flood the room with light when you get up to pee at 2am.

Desk Organizer – Keep your desk clean to keep your motivation up.

Binders, Paper, Pens, Pencils, Notebooks, Highlighters – Don’t be like the girl I overheard in my dorm bathroom complaining that she couldn’t do her work because her mom hadn’t sent her loose-leaf paper yet.

Pencil Sharpener – No lie, there were maybe two pencil sharpeners in the building where I took most of my classes. Make sure you have your own, just in case.

Waste Basket – Skip the plastic bags you’ll bring out to the dumpster tomorrow, really, and tuck a tiny waste basket under your desk.

Throw Rug or Room Rug – Your dorm may or may not be carpeted depending on the school. But a fluffy throw rug at the side of your bed or a big rug in the middle of the room makes getting up for morning classes in the winter a little easier.

Oscillating Fan – the dorms get hot and stuffy.

Flat Plastic Storage Bins – perfect for under the bed storage. I’d suggest ordering at least a couple and stacking them under the bed.

Coat Hangers – essential and frequently forgotten.

Drying Rack – for towels or clothes you air dry.

Brita Pitcher – the water on campus is probably fine, but it can’t hurt to give it a little extra filter for flavor. This will also save you money on bottled water for your room.

Extra Phone Charger – That sinking realization you left your phone charger at home over the weekend…

First Aid Kit – No need to go to Health Services for a paper cut, but you want to have bandaids before you need them.

Broom and Dustpan – Keep your space clean and it’ll be nicer to live in.

Laundry basket – You’ll need a way to get your dirty laundry down to the laundry room. 

Laundry Detergent – It’ll cost a fortune on campus, buy a large bottle and keep it in your room.

Lanyard – Keep your keys and ID safe in one place.

String Lights – They’re dorm room classics.



dorm essentials

 You may be using public bathrooms or they may be semi-private.  You’ll need these things for either one:

Plastic Shower Caddy – easily store and transport your shower supplies. Just remember to give it a wipe from time to time to keep it clean.

Towels – don’t get caught without a clean one. 

Bathrobe – it can be a long walk back from the shower in just a towel.

Flip Flops – Dozens of people sharing a shower means that they get nasty. Bring a pair of flip flops to use in the shower.

Slippers – Switch out of your shower shoes when you get out of the shower to avoid slipping on your way back to your room.

Hairbrush – The other thing I forget anytime I travel anywhere.

Toothbrush, Toothbrush Holder, Toothpaste, and Floss – Twice a day, no excuses.


If you’re living suite-style, don’t forget kitchen supplies!


dorm essentials

 (Though they’re written with post-college roommates in mind, if you’re living suite style and sharing a kitchen, check out my 10 Tips for Peaceful Living with Roommates Post-College post for ideas for sharing and chore-division in suite kitchens.)


Cups, Bowls, Plates, Silverware – Don’t just swipe it from the dining hall, get your own.

Coffee Mugs – For when you don’t have to rush to class  

Travel Mug – For when you do

Food Storage Containers – Store your leftovers properly and you’ll waste less food and save on groceries.

Silverware Organizer – If your set doesn’t come in one, still buy one. It’ll keep the drawer organized.

Trash Can – Get one with a lid that is designed for kitchens. Don’t be tempted to get a massive lawn bin. You won’t have to empty it as much, but your kitchen will reek.

Plug-In Air Freshener and Refill – Chances are your kitchen will reek at times anyway. 

Baking Soda – Tuck it in your fridge to absorb gross smells. Make sure you change it every 30 days!

Hand Towels – Get some specifically for the kitchen.

Oven Mitt – Yes, towels can work but oven mitts are designed specifically for the task.

Pots and Pans – get a basic set of pots and pans for cooking. This set is great because it has pretty much everything you need to cook a meal, including cooking utensils. You don’t need anything fancy unless cooking is already something you do and enjoy regularly. But don’t go too cheap or you’ll just have to replace them anyway. (or the pots will chip into your food as you cook it…eww…)


Coffeemaker – Get yourself a small coffeemaker and a bottle of creamer. You can make coffee that tastes like Dunks for a fraction of the cost.

Dish Soap and Sponges – Clean up your mess when you’re done!

This list is meant to get you started. As the year progresses, you’ll know what else you need for your particular situation. Is there anything else you’d suggest for essentials? Let me know in the comments!



2 thoughts on “Move-In Day! The Giant List of Dorm Essentials You Really Don’t Want to Forget!”

  1. I agree with all your ideas! Only I didn’t have a coffee maker since I don’t drink coffee. But I did have a mini fridge stocked with Diet Coke.

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