College Packing List of Dorm Room Essentials | Denali - Denali Home Collection

College Packing List of Dorm Room Essentials

August 24, 2020

Just like first-time campers, it’s fairly common for incoming college students to overpack when getting ready for the move to their first student dorm. College dorms rooms are typically small with limited space, so packing too much can transform your new home from cozy to crammed fairly quickly if you aren’t careful. 

If you’re wondering how to pack for college and what things you need to bring, we’ve created a comprehensive guide and college packing list. Find out what dorm essentials to pack and what you should leave at home.

How to pack for college

Before checking out our college packing checklist of dorm room essentials, make sure to follow these steps to help make things easier. 

1. Tour the dorm

Try to visit the residence hall and tour an example dorm room so you can have an idea of just how big or small your new home will be. This will give you an idea of how much space you’ll have along with other helpful info such as whether you’ll have a private or shared bathroom, and if you’ll have access to a kitchen.

2. Find out what items are provided

You can save a lot of time, money, and energy by confirming which items will be provided when you move in. Check to see which furniture, appliances, and other items (such as trash/recycling bins) will already be in the room when you move in. 

3. Coordinate with roommates for appliances

A lot of dorms require students to share the room with one or more roommates, so make sure to reach out to them before moving in. Create a plan and decide which appliance(s) each person is bringing so you can avoid buying double. For example, you could offer to bring the microwave and mini-fridge while your roommate brings the TV. In addition to being cost-effective and space-efficient while living in the dorm room, this is also less stuff for you to pack when you eventually move out.

4. Use foldable boxes, not storage bins

Storage bins are great for their durability when transporting items on move-in day, but after unpacking you’ll find that they take up a lot of space that can cause your dorm room to feel more cluttered than it needs to be. Instead, use foldable boxes that can easily be folded and stored without wasting valuable room space.

What to pack for college

If you aren’t sure what to bring for college, these are the dorm room essentials and other supplies you’ll need for your first year on campus.


As mentioned earlier, see what your school provides in the dorm room you’ll be living in and coordinate with roommates to prevent buying double of what you’ll need.

  • Mini fridge (if not provided)
  • Microwave (if not provided)
  • Small fan

Home Items

In addition to the dorm essentials in this section that you’ll use daily (trash cans, power strips, etc…), it’s also important to have some common kits in the case of something breaking or a medical need.

  • Trash/recycling bins (if not provided)
  • Power strip (surge protected only)
  • Adhesive hanging strips (so you don’t have to use nails and repair walls later)
  • Foldable boxes
  • Dry-erase board and markers
  • Desk lamp (if not provided)
  • Alarm clock
  • Flashlight
  • Tool kit
  • First aid kit (along with aspirin and cough drops)
  • Mini sewing kit


College beds are notoriously stiff, so make sure you invest in a really good mattress pad for year-round comfort. To personalize your dorm room, check out our wide selection of bed sets that can help create a stylish, unified look that’s sure to impress the friends you’ll make. If you don’t find a set catered to your unique preferences, mix and match our wide selection of pillows and blankets to create a style that’s all your own.

Top off your room and showcase your school pride with a college throw blanket featuring your school. Our college throw blankets are extremely comfortable and durable, which makes them perfect for lounging or tailgating. While some blankets start falling apart and fading after the first wash, our blankets are made to survive washing and actually get softer with each laundry cycle. Plus, we dye colors into fabric fibers before production, so your blanket will look just as good on graduation day as it did on your first day of college.

  • Mattress pad (check bed size)
  • Sheets and comforter (check bed size)
  • Pillows and pillowcases (2 of each)
  • Durable blanket

School Supplies

Beyond just what you’ll use in your dorm, these are the essential school supplies you’ll need for college.

  • Backpack
  • Laptop case
  • Daily planner
  • Notebooks (one for each class)
  • Folders (one for each class)
  • Pens and pencils
  • Pencil/pen/highlighter holder
  • Stapler and staples
  • Index cards
  • Highlighters
  • Sticky notes
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape


College is becoming increasingly digitalized, with many classes now featuring an online element. On top of a reliable laptop, make sure you come to school with these tech necessities that you’re sure to use on a daily basis.

  • Laptop
  • Cell phone
  • TV
  • Printer (unless you can print elsewhere on campus for free)
  • External phone battery
  • HDMI cable
  • USB flash drive
  • Headphones

Clothing and related items

Don’t bring your whole wardrobe when moving into your dorm. Bring clothes for the season you’re in, with a couple of extra items for special occasions and unusual climate scenarios. If possible, leave a packed box of clothes at home and have your family or friends bring it up when they visit you so you can swap items out to keep a fresh wardrobe.

  • Undergarments and socks
  • Casual pants/jeans
  • Shirts (classic tees, button-up shirts, and blouses)
  • Sweaters
  • Pajamas (at least one pair of sweatpants)
  • Sneakers
  • Flip flops
  • Dress shoes
  • Light jacket or hoodie
  • Heavy jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Swimsuit
  • 2-3 sets of workout clothes
  • 1-2 business casual outfits (for semi-formal events)
  • 1 professional outfit (for interviews and other occasions)
  • Umbrella
  • Lint brush
  • Closet hangers
  • Iron and ironing board

Cleaning and laundry supplies

Bringing less clothes will encourage you to do laundry more often, but on top of keeping your clothes fresh, you’ll also want to regularly clean your room. Make sure you have plenty of cleaning supplies to handle regular upkeep.

  • Laundry basket
  • Laundry detergent
  • Bleach
  • Dish soap
  • Paper towels
  • Cleaning rags
  • Multisurface cleaner
  • Broom and/or small vacuum cleaner
  • Toilet brush
  • Toilet cleaner

Bathroom and Toiletries

A few items may vary on this list depending on whether you have a private or communal bathroom, but overall you’ll want to make sure you have these bathroom and hygiene essentials.

  • Toilet paper (if you have a private bathroom)
  • Plunger (if you have a private bathroom)
  • Shower mat (if you have a private bathroom)
  • Shower caddy
  • Towels
  • Shampoo, conditioner, soap/body wash, and face wash
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Dental floss
  • Hand soap
  • Comb/brush
  • Razors
  • Tweezers
  • Nail trimmers
  • Hair dryer (and curling iron/straightener if needed)


Not all dorms will have a kitchen and/or stove you can use, so we’ve divided this list to accommodate for both scenarios. The following kitchen necessities are something everyone should have in their dorm room, even if there is not a kitchen.

  • Silverware
  • Set of 2 bowls, plates, and cups
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Food storage containers

Kitchen (Only if the dorm has an oven/stove and the student will be cooking)

If your dorm has a kitchen and you plan on using it to cook frequently, these are the cookware items you’ll want to have on hand. When asking your dorm if they have a kitchen, be sure to clarify if there is a kitchen in the dorm building or the dorm room. If it’s a shared kitchen for everyone in the building, they may already have some of these items for you to use.

  • Small and large pan
  • Medium-sized pot
  • Set of mixing bowls
  • Cutting board
  • Basic set of cooking knives
  • Spatula and tongs
  • Salt, pepper, and other commonly used spices

Non-Perishable Snacks For College Dorms

It’s always a good idea to have snacks around for when the dining hall closes, or you simply don’t have time to grab a bite before heading off to class. For those occasions, you’ll be glad to have these snacks in your dorm room.

  • Granola/energy bars
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts and trail mix
  • Crackers
  • Dried fruit
  • Ramen noodles
  • Microwaveable mac and cheese

What you shouldn’t bring to a college dorm

A lot of incoming students bring things they don’t need or shouldn’t have in their dorm room, so we’ve listed the items you should leave at home when packing for college.


Most dorms provide all the essential furniture you’ll need, so check what your dorm provides to prevent bringing unnecessary gear that’s heavy and hard to move. In fact, some dorms may outright prohibit you from bringing in your items.

  • Bed
  • Couch
  • Desk
  • Table
  • Chair
  • Dresser

Prohibited Items

Check what items are prohibited in your dorm before packing, you may be surprised to find out what’s not allowed. Furthermore, housing staff may do room inspections a few times throughout the year to make sure you don’t have these items. If you do, they may be confiscated and you could potentially face a fine. To prevent this, make sure you don’t bring these items to college.

  • Toaster
  • Hot plates
  • Gas grills
  • Extension cords
  • String lights
  • Candles
  • Weapons
  • Alcohol/drug paraphernalia
  • Unapproved pets

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