The Ultimate Dorm Room Essentials Packing List

College is a huge life transition. It marks the end of some things and the beginning of many others. Start college off right by making sure you’ve got everything you might need. This is the ultimate college dorm room essentials packing list–it’s comprehensive, and thankfully the only one you’ll need.

When packing for college, you should pack the dorm room essentials first, then add the embellishments once you’ve already gotten settled. You won’t really know what you need until you’re a full-time college student!

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The Ultimate Dorm Room Essentials Packing List
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The Ultimate Dorm Room Essentials Packing List

1. Dorm Bedding Essentials

Not included: Bedsheets, pillows, duvet/blankets! I left these out because these are pretty self-explanatory and everyone knows to bring them!

Mattress Protector

Few things are as gross as a college dorm room mattress. Luckily, you can keep out thoughts about the number of people who have slept on the mattress before you with a good quality mattress protector. This is my #1 recommendation when it comes to dorm room bedding. I used this one all four years in college, and I’m very grateful for it! Make sure you get it in Twin XL (size of most college mattresses).

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Mattress Topper

Mattress toppers are completely optional, but highly recommend because they can greatly improve the comfort of a thin dorm mattress. You can get either memory foam or quilted pillow-top mattress toppers! Personally, I used a quilted pillow topper, since memory foam does get quite hot.

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Bonus: Reading Pillow

This is super nice to have for back support if you see yourself Netflix-ing or reading in bed. I definitely used my bed as an extra seating area since I didn’t have a couch!

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2. Dorm Closet Essentials

Hanging shelf

Dorm room closets are SMALL. I used a hanging shelf to add some much-needed space to my closet! It’s great for tanks, T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, and sweaters. I hung up my larger jackets, dresses, and coats!


Thin, non-slip hangers were my favorite closet essential. It kept my clothes from falling off, and helped me save space that bulky hangers would cause. These also just looked great!

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Drying rack

A drying rack is a must for hanging up your delicates after you wash them! Luckily, there are many foldable options out there, so you can easily tuck this under your bed when you’re not using it!

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Shoe rack

If you’re a shoes girl, this is a must-have! I had so many shoes for different occasions, and a shoe rack that’s easily taken apart for storage helped me keep everything organized!

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Laundry Hamper

Now that you’ll be doing your own laundry (which isn’t always exciting), a laundry hamper is a must-have. On the bright side, if it’s cute, you’ll be more likely to do laundry (maybe)! There are tons of options when it comes to laundry hampers, but I recommend looking for ones that have handles for portability. If you want to go the extra step, get one that has a drawstring close, so you can keep your clothes (and smell) tucked away until it’s time to wash.

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Laundry Mesh Bags

Laundry mesh bags are highly recommended for washing your delicates. I used these to wash my bras, silk tops, and thin blouses. Those bra clasps can snag on your beloved sweaters and ruin them!

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I have this exact travel-size iron and I LOVE it. I still use it (it’s lasted me over 4 years!). It doesn’t take up any space, but you can get those ugly wrinkles out of your clothes for business dinners, dates, or nights out!

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3. Dorm Shower Essentials

Shower shoes

Shower floors are DISGUSTING. Why get all clean if you’ll trampling in germs all over the floor? Luckily, cheap flip flops exist to save you from those germs! Any pair will do. I picked up cute pineapple flip flops from a market in China, but you can get nice ones at TJMaxx for $2 (which I also did haha).

if you’re trying to shower in style:

Shower caddy

If you know you’ll be using a shared hall bathroom, a shower caddy is going to go a long way. For this, a mesh caddy will be light-weight and simple to use. You can also go for the more structured, heavy-duty plastic ones that’ll easily sit on the floor.

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We all use towels, so no need to explain here! Easiest thing to do is bring your favorite towel from home(: I recommend having at least two towels, so you can switch them out if you haven’t done laundry yet, or have an extra for visiting guests!


Robes and wraps are a great idea if your using public bathrooms and don’t want to make the trek from the showers to your room in a towel (it’s risky!).

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Bonus: Waterproof bluetooth speakers

These are super nice to have if you’re a music lover and you want to jam out to some tunes in the shower! Waterproof ones are a great option!

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4. Dorm Desk Essentials


A great lamp is important if you see yourself studying a lot in your room. I had this LED lamp (still have it!) that gave me the flexibility to study effectively in my room if I didn’t want to make the trek to the library. It’s great to have that option if you’re feeling sick or if the weather is unbearable!

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File/desk organizer

I didn’t have the need for a binder in college like I did in high school, but file organizers and folders are super useful! It helps keep your random syllabi and notebooks organized, so you don’t have to shuffle blindly through your dorm room. These rose gold options are BEAUTIFUL.

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Notebooks + Stationary

I’m sure you’re not a stranger when it comes to notebooks and stationary. This might surprise you, but school supplies are often forgotten about when it comes to college (because everyone is busy packing dorm room essentials!). Tape and a stapler can be SUPER helpful!

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Bulletin board

A bulletin board or white board can help keep you on top of things! Syllabus week is pretty stressful because your professors are going to be handing out a ton of deadlines and exam dates. There’s no need to stress, though!

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Bonus: Monthly Calendar

Depending on your calendar-ing habits, you might find a monthly calendar spread helpful! I preferred to write everything out instead of using a laptop planner.

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Bonus: Printer

If you have an old printer at home that no one is using, I highly recommend bringing it to college! It’s going to save you so much time if you don’t have to walk all the way to the library to print out an essay before class. My entire suite used my basic printer and it was a huge lifesaver.

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5. Dorm Tech Essentials

Power strips/extension cords

You’ll have a few outlets in your room, but they’re often in places that can be inconvenient (especially if it doesn’t line up with your dorm room layout).

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6-FT iPhone Charger

An extra long phone charger is super handy and gives you the flexibility to sprawl out on your bed or sofa without doing the awkward “phone charging” lean!

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White noise machine

College dorm rooms can get pretty noisy–it’s fun if you’re at the party, but if you’re trying to sleep or study, it can get pretty annoying. A white noise machine is a great way to muffle the extra noises and stay focused (or asleep!).

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Noise-cancelling headphones

If you have the budget, I recommend investing in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones if you have trouble studying in noisy places. I personally need silence or soft background music to get into the zone (organic chemistry is pretty demanding!), but I don’t always want to sit in the library. They’re also super handy for working out and wearing on planes!

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An adapter is useful if you’re a Mac user, since Apple seems to love removing random ports with every new product. I’ve come across a good number of instances where an adapter was needed for a class presentation or streaming a movie!

USB-C to HDMI Multiport Adaptor (Amazon)

6. Dorm Cleaning Essentials


You don’t need to break the wallet on a fancy vacuum, but a simple vacuum is highly recommended for picking up stray hair and crumbs! I used a cheaper Dirt Devil vacuum once a week to keep my room feeling and looking clean! This is one of those dorm room essentials that I recommend you order once you get to school if you’re out-of-state, so you can just get it mailed to you (instead of hauling it cross-country).

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Clorox wipes & Alcohol wipes

Clorox and alcohol wipes come in handy for disinfecting various things throughout your room over the school year (door handles, tables, laptops, phones, etc.). Given the pandemic right now, it’s important to have these handy!

Paper towels

These are super useful for everything! Not much explanation needed. A roll or two for spills are perfect when you need it.


Just nice to have, especially when flu season comes around! You’ll be surprised how fast illness can spread in dorm halls.

7. Useful Medication

  • Tylenol/Advil (the most useful medication I had)
  • Imodium (dorm food doesn’t always agree with you!)
  • DayQuil/NyQuil (for colds)
  • Nasal spray (to alleviate stuffy noses)
  • Benadryl (if you’ve got allergies)
  • Reusable ice pack (for fevers)
  • Vitamin C
  • Thermometer
  • Condoms (though you should be able to get free ones from your school’s health center)
  • Menstrual products

8. Miscellaneous Dorm Room Essentials

Command hooks/strips

These are SO useful when it comes to dorm decor! I used command hooks for my towel (2 hooks so it dried properly each day), small purses, and caps. You can use smaller ones for fairy lights and hanging decor! Strips are great for mirrors and posters.

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Storage cubes

Storage cubes are a great way to stow your extra blankets, towels, and miscellaneous items! I even had one just for menstrual products (super useful if you share this box with your roommate or suite!). If you’re one of those secret stash people (messes are out of sight), this is a great option for you!

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A mirror is super useful to have at your desk, so you can do your makeup in your room instead of the bathroom! A full-body mirror (I picked up mine for less than $7 from Walmart) is great for ensuring your outfits aren’t pulling any wardrobe malfunctions that you can’t see. This full-body mirror from Walmart sticks onto doors or walls with Command strips!

*Some dorm rooms have full-body mirrors already! Wait and see if you need it before picking one up.

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Mug + Plate + Utensils

Super useful for making tea or late-night snacks in your room! I recommend bringing as much as you can from home to save money on these items.

Salt/pepper (basic spices)

I highly recommend bringing some spices from home! These come in SO handy if you’re trying to make food at 12AM that doesn’t taste like nothing. College cooking at its finest.

Coffee machine

For all of you coffee lovers out there, having your own coffee machine saves you from crappy servery coffee and overpriced Starbucks/coffee shop coffee. It’s a must-have dorm room essential! The convenience of being able to brew a cup in your own room is glorious. AeroPress is my absolute favorite coffeemaker, but it’s not as mindless as a Keurig and you’d also need a hot water kettle for it!

Brita pitcher

Hot water kettle

Great to have for tea, ramen, an Aeropress–anything! I brought an old one from home that my entire suite shared. This is recommended once you’ve settled into college after the first week or so, to really figure out if you need it!

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Mini fridge

This is one of the most-treasured dorm room essentials amongst college students. I don’t think an explanation is needed here. I’d recommend looking at Walmart or Target for college back-to-school sales! You can usually get them at a much better price than online!

[Related: 5 Budget-Friendly Places To Buy Dorm Essentials]

9. Dorm Decor Ideas

14 Dorm Room Layout Ideas

19 Dorm Wall Decor Ideas

23 Stunning Dorm Room Ideas You Have To See

9 Plants Perfect For Busy College Students

10 Magical Fairy Lights For Your Dorm Room

16 Boho Dorm Room Ideas

9 Nautical Dorm Room Ideas

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