dorm room with desk
dorm room with desk

College Dorm Room Essentials Guide

Your in-depth dorm room essentials list.

Time to start prepping for another season of back-to-school shopping — featuring the chaos of moving into your dorm room.

Hate packing? Always overpack? We’ve got you covered. This guide will be your Guardian Angel for packing, because what do you really need? Clue: not your entire wardrobe and childhood teddies (ok, maybe just a few).

What type of packer are you?

2 votes | Ends: No Expiry

View Results

Loading ... Loading …

Jump to:

College dorm room essentials list

We’ve compiled a list of everything you absolutely need to grab before you head off to college.

From decor to items to help you study, we covered everything. We’ve even included a list of stuff to go ahead and leave at home. Use this as a guide once you get in the store and start making purchases.

What’s already in your dorm room?

While it might feel like your room is pretty bare bones, it will come equipped with some stuff. Here’s a list of things your dorm will have:

  • Bed
  • Mattress
  • Dresser
  • Desk
  • Chair

Some rooms will also have the following:

  • Mini fridge
  • Microwave
  • Bed lofting kit

Be sure to check with your individual college and residence hall to see exactly what you’ll have provided to you on move-in day. You don’t want to show up missing important things, and you definitely don’t want buy things that you’ll already have given to you!

College bedroom essentials

1. Mattress Cover

college bedroom essentials - mattress cover

Don’t think about the fact that your college mattress has had lord knows how many people sleeping on it, it’s weird you out. But protect yourself from unwanted germs and bed bugs by getting a quality mattress protector. This one from Purple protects against dust mites and dander and is machine washable.

Save 10% at Purple with Student Beans

2. Mattress Topper

college bedroom essentials - mattress topper

Your college mattress will also be wildly uncomfortable, and since getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for your success in school, a mattress topper is a must. We love this one from GhostBed that offers a full 3” of cooling memory foam and rubber grips to keep it in place, no matter how much you toss and turn.

Save up to 34% at GhostBed with Student Beans

3. A Nice Comforter

white bedroom - college dorm room essentials - comforter

The temperature in your room can fluctuate wildly during the seasons, so a quality comforter will be able to keep you nice and cool or warm and cozy. This top-rated comforter from Cozy Earth is temperature-regulating, which means it will always feel like the perfect temperature, no matter what.

Save 40% at Cozy Earth with Student Beans

College bathroom essentials

4. Bath Mat

college bathroom essentials - bathmat

This is one of those easy things to forget—you need something to step out on after you’re done taking a shower. Instead of a boring one you’ll get sick of looking at every day, find a funky one (like this rainbow cat design) that makes you smile! Society6 is the perfect place to find the perfect fit.

Save 25% at Society6 with Student Beans

5. Shower Curtain

celestial shower curtain in bathroom - college dorm bathroom essentials

Like the bath mat, a cool shower curtain is a must-have in your dorm bathroom. While it’s easy to get a plain one, you’ll definitely get sick of looking at it all the time, which is why one with a design you love will brighten you day a little bit (which is an important part of maintaining your sanity during college). Check out Redbubble for thousands of different styles.

Save 15% at Redbubble with Student Beans

6. Towels

white bathroom towel - college bathroom essentials

Stay clean while you’re in your dorm with bath towels that will get you dry in a flash. These towels from Public Goods are oversized, super thick, and even sustainably harvested! There’s no plastic fibers, GMO fabric, or synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, either.

Save 20% at Public Goods with Student Beans

Study essentials

7. Snacks, Delivered

Don’t want to leave your dorm for groceries, snacks, or anything else? Then definitely use Gopuff. They’ll deliver anything you could need (including those snacks for late night study sessions) in a flash. And really, isn’t that the dream—not ever leaving your room to run errands.

Save at Gopuff with Student Beans

8. Pens For Color-Coding Notes

study essentials for college - pens for color-coding notes

Never underestimate a good pen for taking notes, and if you like to color-code everything, a nice set of gel pens will be your best friend when you’re trying to study for tests. MUJI has been making awesome stationary products for years, so you’ll get plenty of use out of this multicolor set.

Save 10% at MUJI with Student Beans

9. Travel Cup

travel cup

Keep your caffeinated beverages hot or cold on your way to class with a solid travel mug. Corkcicle specifically designed this version for commuters and people always on the go. It’s certifiably spill-proof, so you’ll never lose a drop, even as you’re running to class.

Save 10% + Free Shipping at Corkcicle with Student Beans

Dorm room storage essentials

10. Storage Cube

storage cube gray - dorm room storage essentials

A storage cube that doubles as seating and has a built-in tray? Yeah, you’re going to want to pick one of these up ASAP. Toss your stuff in it, have guests sit on it, or use it for food when you’re eating. Is there anything this little cube can’t do?

Save 10% at Simpli Home with Student Beans

11. Stackable Storage Bins

stackable gray storage bins - college storage essentials

You have to think vertically in your dorm when it comes to storing items. We like these stackable storage bins, especially since they have a little window, allowing you to see exactly what’s inside them. Our recommendation is to use them in your closet for stuff like shoes and clothes.

Save 10% at SONGMICS with Student Beans

12. Storage Dresser

dorm room storage essentials - black and gray storage dresser

If you need a little extra storage in your room, this little storage shelf with cloth bins will give you another storage option perfect for small spaces. You might even be able to slide this in your closet to keep it hidden away and keeping your room de-cluttered.

Save 5% at VEVOR with Student Beans

Dorm room decorating 

13. Unique Wall Art

dorm room decorating - unique wall art

Put some stuff on your walls that will make you smile! You are going to be looking at it every single day, after all. IWOOT has tons of unique options that will allow you to perfectly present your personality in your decor without breaking the bank in the process.

Save 10% at IWOOT with Student Beans

14. Planner Poster

dorm room decorating - planning poster

Stay on-track with a well-designed planner poster. Write down everything you’ve got going on every week and hang it in a spot you’ll be sure to see it. Deadlines, social outings, even a handy to-do list will ensure you stay organized all semester long.

Save 15% at Desenio with Student Beans

15. Cozy Lighting

dorm room decorating - cozy lighting, rainbow light effects

Overhead lighting is harsh and terrible, so you’re going to want to make sure you have some softer lighting in your room, especially if you’re planning on getting any work done once the sun goes down. Strip lights are an easy way to add pretty colors to your room, and they can be put just about anywhere.

Save 10% at Govee with Student Beans

Dorm room essentials for guys

Guys, it’s not your fault you’re not as organized as the girls, so we’ve got the dorm room essentials for guys to make it that little bit easier for you.

Before you land on campus, make sure you’ve packed these must-haves:

  • Bathroom and slippers/shower sandals
  • Shaver (if you shave)/grooming kit
  • First aid kit
  • Extra bed sheets
  • Laundry hamper (come on, clothes don’t belong on the floor)
  • Trash can (again, trash doesn’t belong on the floor, either)
  • Surge Protector power strip 
  • Fan 
  • Extra seating (so you dorm mates don’t have to sit on the floor)
  • Condoms (stay safe!)
  • Batteries
  • Plunger 

Dorm room essentials for girls

Gals and pals, you really don’t need to pack everything from your parents’ home and steal from your bestie’s wardrobe, too. Here’s a list of things you should pack, along with the above college dorm room essentials lists.

  • Over-the-door organizers and hooks (maximize the storage!)
  • Hangers
  • Desk lamp
  • Rugs (to add more comfort)
  • Extra bedding
  • Full-length mirror (bonus for one that hangs over the back of the door)
  • Your medication
  • Earplugs
  • First aid kit
  • Mini tool kit (so you don’t have to rely on anyone else to fix your stuff)
  • Pepper spray and safety whistle
  • Sewing kit (for minor alterations if needed)
  • Shower shoes and bathrobe
  • Sanitary products
  • Lint roller

What NOT To Take To College

dorm room at college - what not to take to college

It’s easy to overpack, so here’s a quick list of things you should leave at home:

  • Kitchen equipment. You’re not going to be cooking in your room as much as you may think.
  • Bulky tech like printers and stereos.
  • Your entire wardrobe. Change it out seasonally.
  • Furniture that isn’t easy to move.

Now that you’re ready to go shopping for your college dorm room essentials, it’s time to get excited! Take time to plan out what your dorm is going to look like. This is going to be your second home, after all—it should reflect who you are and your personality. Get creative, and have fun with it!

Need more dorm inspo? Check out our dorm decor ideas if you’re on a budget. And don’t forget to look through our post devoted entirely to storage solutions for your room!