The Ultimate List of Dorm Essentials for Incoming Freshmen

Packing for the first year away from home can be exciting – and also a bit confusing. Ads want you to believe that almost everything can be suitable for taking to a freshman year dorm room. In reality, there’s barely room for the essentials. Here are the most important items to bring with you to college this fall.

Bedding, Linens, and Towels

Whether you choose to use what you own – or splurge on something new – don’t forget the following:

  • Sheets and pillowcases (one set)
  • Two pillows (not including decorative) and cases
  • Mattress pad
  • Comforter
  • One each of a light and heavy blanket
  • Three each of full-size towels and washcloths

Pro Tip: Choose colors that wash up easily and that hide stains. Since college students have smaller laundry loads, you may need to mix colors, darks, and whites on occasion. Opt for a beige towel over hot pink to avoid laundry disasters!

Seasonal Clothing, Shoes, and Outerwear

Unless you live too far from home to visit, plan on bringing only what you’ll wear for each semester. Winter climates require coats, hats, and possibly snow boots. If your school is somewhere sunny, grab what you’ll wear in pleasant weather, plus a few layered items for the occasional unseasonal chill. By packing only what you’ll use every few months, you can seriously save on closet space. Don’t forget your swimsuit and any athletic wear you’ll need!

Pro Tip: Consider how you’ll get to the public showers and back. Robes and flipflops or sandals are a must!

Must-Have Appliances and Cookware

Most dorms have a small kitchen, but you’ll need to bring your supplies. Check dorm regulations to see what’s available before bringing anything that heats up. Commonly accepted appliances include one-cup coffee makers, microwaves, minifridges, and electric tea kettles. (Likewise, slow cookers, hot plates, and toaster ovens are generally frowned upon.)

Don’t forget two each of a microwavable bowl, plate, and mug, as well as a few forks and spoons. You’ll need washable food-storage containers, one refillable water bottle, and a can opener, too.

Pro Tip: Coordinating with your roommate before the term starts can save you the awkwardness of showing up with one of two coffee makers.

Cleaning Supplies

No one wants to think about cleaning in college, but your room will need the weekly going over. Many colleges provide a cleaning closet with basics but bringing your small broom, dustpan, and handheld vacuum can’t hurt. Bring no more than a semester’s worth of the following, as well:

  • Sanitizing wipes, (or eco-friendly microfiber cloths with cleaning spray)
  • Small trash can and liners
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dryer sheets
  • Dish soap, washable sponges, and tea towels
  • Clothes hangers, laundry bag/basket
  • Lint brush

Pro Tip: By choosing Dropps laundry detergent pods, you can save on space in your cramped dorm room. An entire semester’s worth of detergent can fit in a coffee can!

Personal Care Items

Only you know what you’ll use daily, so bring your usual makeup, shampoos, body washes, and grooming products. Aside from those, college students aren’t used to shopping for first-aid and over-the-counter medicines, so be sure to include:

  • Vitamins
  • Stomach meds (antacids and anti-diarrheal medicine)
  • Small first-aid kit with bandages, antibiotic creams, and antiseptic wipes
  • Cough drops
  • Pain relievers of choice
  • Tweezers, nail clippers, and cotton swabs

Pro Tip: Keep your bathing supplies in a waterproof shower caddy that drains well to keep your stuff organized when you shower.

School Supplies

Most of the things you used in high school still apply. You can choose to wait until your first day of classes to buy anything specialized. Knowing how big binders need to be, for example, might not happen until you see the year’s syllabus and materials. Be sure you bring your laptop!

Extras

College kids all say these are necessary too:

  • Small table-top lamp or reading light
  • Portable fan
  • College approved picture and poster hangers
  • Whiteboard or chalkboard
  • Portable speakers
  • Cords for your equipment (HDMI, etc.)
  • Power strip with surge protector
  • Cellphone and charging accessories

The good thing about packing for college is that you don’t have to remember everything. Most schools are located near shopping centers. You can always pick up a few things when you get there!