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Essential Items to Pack for Your Dorm

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Moving into a dorm is exciting--leaving your parents' home and living on your own comes with newfound independence and freedom. It also means packing the right stuff to ensure your transition is smooth and comfortable.

Check out this checklist of essential items to pack for your dorm to make university life both efficient and fun!


  • Comforter. Rather than purchasing a fancy bed set you’ll be afraid to ruin, it’s a good idea to bring a versatile quilt in a bright color or vibrant print to dress up your bed as well as snuggle up with at night. You will likely be eating, drinking and lounging in bed often, and may easily spill or tear an expensive duvet.
  • Sheets. You’ll need a fitted and a top sheet. Bringing an extra set is helpful to use while the other is in the wash, or in case one gets ruined.
  • Pillows. You’ll want both pillows for sleeping (and pillow cases to match your sheets) as well as a few decorative throw pills to make your bed both a chic and cuddly place for studying.
  • Throw blanket. A knit throw to fold at the foot of your bed is convenient on for watching TV and studying on your bed on chilly afternoons.

Toiletries and shower supplies

  • Shower caddy. If your dorm doesn't have a private bath, you will have to schlep all of your shower products with you to the communal bathroom each day. A shower caddy or bag is used to efficiently carry your items--make sure to purchase one that is water resistant and will dry quickly.
  • Shower shoes. Walking around in a shared bathroom barefoot is a bit icky. Shower shoes or flip flops will keep your feet clean and dry as you head to the showers each day.
  • Robe. Rather than heading to the bathroom in your clothes and struggling to keep them organized in your small shower space, a robe will minimize your items you take to the shower.
  • Towels. Pack several bath towels, hand towels, and a wash cloth for all of your cleansing needs.
  • Personal care items. These include shampoo, conditioner, body wash/soap, deodorant, hair care tools and styling products, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, floss, tissues, cotton swabs, cosmetics, nail care products, shaving gear, and tweezers.

Clothes and laundry supplies

  • Weather appropriate clothing. While you may be attempted to haul your entire wardrobe to your dorm, closet space is often minimal. Stick to bringing versatile, seasonal clothing that will be suitable for a variety of occasions. Pieces that area easily layered work well to create multiple outfits.
  • Formal attire. Pack at least one formal or semi-formal outfit for social events.
  • Laundry soap. You can't wash your clothes if you don't have detergent!
  • Laundry basket. This is more efficient than lugging your clothes to the laundry room in giant plastic garbage bag.
  • Hamper. No roommate appreciates a dorm room littered with dirty clothes. Bring a small hamper to stow your clothing until it's time to do the wash.

Personal touches

  • Posters/wall art. You'll want to make your dorm room your own, but make sure any wall decor you bring along meets campus regulations. Often tape, thumbtacks, and nails are prohibited. Using painter's tape to hang pictures or applying vinyl wall decals is a great way to give your dorm flair without breaking the rules.
  • Area rug. Dorms often have cold, bare floors. Pack a small area rug in a run print to put beside your bed to protect your feet from the early morning chill until you can find your slippers.
  • Message board. You'll have a lot to remember this semester--homework, deadlines, papers, exams, social events--mount a white board or bulletin board to scribble reminders. You can also stick up photos and other decorative trinkets with magnets and thumb tacks to add your decor.

Studying materials

  • Laptop and bag. Possibly your most important studying tool, don't forget your laptop computer, charger, Ethernet cables, and a high-quality carrying case to protect it.
  • Book-bag. Rather than struggling to carry an armful of books around campus, invest in a sturdy book-bag to make rushing to class more efficient.
  • Notebooks and writing utensils. Pack a variety of different-colored spiral notebooks for jotting down notes. You should use a different color for each class. You could also opt for one three-ring binder and use colored tabs to separate by course.
  • Desk lamp. Keep your study area well-lit with a desk lamp--most colleges require a non-halogen option.


  • Dishes. Opt for non-breakable, microwaveable plates and/or bowls.
  • Flatware. Bring along a small set of forks, knives, and spoons. Resist the urge to simply by plastic utensils--it's costlier and harmful to the environment.
  • Drinking cups. Check dorm regulations, but plastic drinking cups are likely required.
  • Can opener. On a diet sustained by mostly microwaveable foods, a can opener is essential.
  • Trashcan. Since dorm space is minimal, opt for a small trash bin.
  • Travel coffee mug. Even though you may not be allowed to make coffee in your dorm, there will likely be a place on campus to fill up. A microwave-safe travel mug will allow you to enjoy your caffeine habit everywhere you go!

Cleaning supplies

  • Paper towels/trash bags
  • Dish towels
  • Dish soap
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Swiffer/vacuum
  • Dust rags
  • Dish scrubber/sponge

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on August 19, 2014

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