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August 25, 2022  |  Home

Everything you need to outfit your college dorm room

Moving into a college dorm is a big deal. It's easy to forget important items or not realize everything that you'll need, especially in the first year. While there isn't an exhaustive packing list that's the same for every student, all the basics are the same. 

Not only do you want items that are practical and make dorm life simpler, but you'll probably also want to decorate it in your style to make it your own. 

College dorm packing list

You'll need to pack a lot of belongings when moving into a dorm, but many of these you'll already have. Once you've got an idea of everything you'll need to bring, you can start thinking about what you already have and what you need to buy or upgrade. 

Clothing

Presumably, you already have clothes, but you may want to procure some new, in-style threads for your wardrobe before you start college. Grouping your clothing into categories can help you remember everything you need. Don't forget that you'll have limited closet space. 

  • Basics: Basics are items you wear every day, such as underwear, socks, jeans, casual pants, shorts, sweaters and T-shirts. 
  • Dressy outfits: You probably don't need to pack a formal gown or a tuxedo, but you'll want some dressier articles of clothing for parties and mixers. 
  • Cold weather gear: Jackets, coats, hats, scarves, gloves and other cold weather gear is more important in some locations than others. 
  • Accessories: Don't forget accessories, including belts and jewelry. 

Electronics

The exact electronics you need to bring will depend on your course and preferences. For instance, some students will need a powerful desktop or top-end laptop, while others can get by with a basic notebook.  Some will want a dedicated dorm printer, and others will have paperless coursework. A phone and charger are essential, and noise-canceling headphones will help you concentrate in a noisy dorm. Don't forget basics, such as power strips or "bricks" to plug USB chargers into. 

Toiletries

Although most colleges will have somewhere you can buy toiletries on campus, the range is often limited. It’s best to bring them with you, unless you aren't fussy. Toiletries you need may include soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, makeup, moisturizer, shaving foam and facial cleanser. 

School supplies

Many students take notes on laptops, but you'll still write by hand occasionally. So, you'll need paper notebooks and a range of stationery as well as a backpack in which to carry your supplies around. 

Bedding

In most dorms, beds are twin XL size (extra-long), so you'll need to bring sheets and comforters to fit. Dorm mattresses are notoriously uncomfortable, so a mattress topper won't go unappreciated. 

Decor

While they aren't essential, decorative touches make a dorm room feel more like home. Popular decorative pieces include posters, prints, plants and planters. Some items, such as lamps and throw pillows, can be decorative and practical. Make sure to choose compact dorm room decor so you'll have enough room for all your necessities.

Best products to outfit your college dorm room

Top bedding items

Bare Home Twin XL Sheet Set 

Containing a fitted sheet, flat sheet and pillowcase, this set contains all the necessary basics. All items are made from a microfiber material that's quick-drying and wrinkle-resistant. There's a choice of roughly 50 colors, including gray, aqua and plum.

Sold by Amazon

Sure2Sleep Gel Swirl Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Just what you need to spruce up a tired old dorm mattress, this topper is made from 2 to 3 inches of memory foam and comes in a twin XL size. Its gel swirl has cooling properties, which is great if you sleep hot.

Sold by Amazon

Beckham Hotel Collection Bed Pillows

These super plush pillows bring a touch of luxury to a dorm room and will help you get a good night's sleep, even if your bed is smaller than you're used to. They're machine-washable and stain-resistant.

Sold by Amazon

Top shower essentials

iDesign Orbz Plastic Bathroom Tote

A portable shower caddy is a must-have for dorm living since you can't leave your toiletries in a shared bathroom or shower block. It has excellent drainage and is easy to clean.

Sold by Amazon

Adidas Adilette Shower Slide

Shared showers aren't always known for their cleanliness and can be hotbeds of foot fungus. With these shower slides, you can keep clean confidently, no matter how gross the bathroom floors look.

Sold by Amazon

Hammam Linen Bath Towel Set

With two bath towels, two hand towels and two washcloths, you can always have one on the go while the other is in the wash. They are made from soft Turkish cotton and come in 14 colors.

Sold by Amazon

Top storage solutions

Starplast Rolling Three-Drawer Diamond Storage Cart

This simple set of drawers provides extra storage, which is much-needed in most dorm rooms. It's compact enough to tuck under a desk or use as a cupboard. It can also double as a nightstand.

Sold by Amazon

StorageLab Low-Profile Under Bed Storage Containers

You can use these storage containers to make the most of the space under your bed. They're sturdy with strong sidewalls and a transparent zippered lid, so you can see what's inside.

Sold by Amazon

Simple Houseware Over Door Pocket Organizer

When living in a small space, you should take advantage of every bit of real estate at your disposal — including the backs of doors. This pocket organizer lets you transform the back of your room or closet door into storage space.

Sold by Amazon

Top decorative items and accessories

Desktop Plant Architecture Set

You can arrange this trio of modular planters in a range of ways to make an interesting display of your plants.

Sold by Uncommon Goods

Kiampon Gold Industrial Table Lamp

This vintage-style table lamp not only looks great but is a practical choice, thanks to its USB charging points. The dimmer switch makes it easy to change the mood of the lighting in your room.

Sold by Amazon

State Field Guide Letterpress Print

Sporting illustrations of state flora and fauna, you can use this print to represent your home state or the state where you're attending college. It's beautifully illustrated and a sophisticated choice of dorm room decor.

Sold by Uncommon Goods


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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