Moving into a dorm room for the first time can be a daunting experience. With so much to do and many items to bring, it can be hard to know where to start. That's why we've put together this college move-in day checklist to help you determine exactly what you need for your dorm room. 

Whether a freshman or an upperclassman, this blog will provide you with all the things you need for your college dorm to feel like home. From bedding and furniture to electronics and decor, following this checklist will help ensure you have everything for a comfortable and productive college experience.

Bedding & Sleeping

what to pack for college

Wondering, "what do I need for my dorm bed?". We’ve got you covered:

  • Bedding: Find out what size the bed is, and purchase two sets of linen, including fitted sheets, flat sheets, and pillowcases, as well as a comforter or duvet insert with a cover. 
  • Pillows: However many you need for a good night’s sleep.
  • Mattress pad: Bulk your mattress with a mattress topper for extra comfort, cushioning, and protection. While optional, mattress pads are always a good idea if your bed needs a little TLC. It also keeps your bed free of dust, dirt, and allergens.
  • Extra blanket: For additional warmth on cold nights. 
  • Study pillow: This will provide support if you plan on doing work in bed. 
  • Bedside lamp: A simple lamp for nighttime ambiance. Overhead lighting can be harsh and upset your roommates.

Organization & Storage

  • Rolling cart: A utility cart with wheels is ideal if you have room. With it, you can store anything from pantry items to books, bath and beauty products, and more. Furthermore, you can move it around as often as you need
  • Storage boxes: These can save space by being stacked, allowing more items to be stored in a smaller area. 
  • Hamper: It’s a good idea to get a hamper to store dirty laundry in until you're able to take it to the laundromat.
  • Hooks: Hooks are a great way to maximize space in a dorm room. They can be used to hang decorations, pictures, towels, coats, hats, purses, and bags.


  • Phone and charger: This one is self-explanatory. Add an extra charger to your list for moving to college. It's always handy to have two charging cables if one goes missing. 
  • Extension cords: No doubt, appliance cables are never as long as you need them. 
  • Multiplug: Between you and your roommate, you will need more plug points to operate your phones, laptops, and appliances. 
  • Charging brick: This is handy if you want to work in a space that doesn't have an outlet or suddenly need to charge your phone.
  • Laptop: Don't leave your laptop at home. And remember to download all the software you need.
  • Hairdryer: If you use a hair dryer or straightener, then you’ll want to pack them in. 
  • Headphones or AirPods: We get it; sometimes you’ll want to listen to music or watch a series that your roommate isn’t interested in. 
  • Portable fan: A portable fan helps cool down in hot weather or when no air conditioning is available. It can also be used to create a breeze in a stuffy room or direct airflow to a particular area.

Personal Hygiene

college dorm essentials list
  • Bath and hand towels: Have at least two of each, so you're not out of luck when one set is in the laundry.
  • Toiletries: Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, earbuds, etc.
  • Shower caddy/toiletry bag: This makes transporting your toiletries to and from the bathroom much easier.
  • Bathrobe: A comfortable alternative to towels when walking to or from the bathroom.
  • Flip flops: It's gross to think about, but wearing flip-flops in the shower will keep your feet out of direct contact with the shower floor and any bacteria or fungi that may live there.
  • Hair necessities: Shower caps, elastics, clips, and anything else you need to keep hair out of your face.


Documents are probably the last thing on your mind when preparing your college moving checklist. However, there are a few important ones you don’t want to forget. 

We recommend making electronic and physical copies of the following: 

  • Meal plan card
  • Class schedule 
  • Financial aid information (if necessary)
  • Emergency contact list 
  • Copy of social security card 
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Health insurance card
  • Car registration and insurance details (if you’re bringing a car)
  • School ID 
  • Driver's license
  • Credit/debit card info


  • Hangers: Honestly, you'll need more than you think! Don’t forget to put them on your college dorm essentials list.
  • Hand steamer: These are way easier to use than an ironing board. 
  • Spare quarters: Not all dorms have free laundry, so be prepared by bringing along loose change. 
  • Drying rack: You'll need to air dry garments that can't go through the dryer. 
  • Shoe rack: This is the best way to store shoes if you have room in your cupboard or space under your bed. 
  • Pegs: To stop your laundry from flying around. 
  • Detergent: Just in case. We recommend buying stain remover as well. 

School Supplies

college moving checklist
  • USB flash drive or hard drive: Always back up your work, preferably on the cloud and hard drive.
  • Notebooks and binders or folders: You don't necessarily need one for each class — just enough so each category can have its section for notes and handouts.
  • Pens, pencils, and highlighters: Plus plenty of back-ups.
  • Notecards: A helpful study tool!
  • Backpack or shoulder bag. Get a bag with extra support to protect your back.
  • Stackable desk trays: These are better than strewing paper everywhere.
  • Scissors and tape: There'll be a day when these come in handy. 

Room Decor

  • A rug: What do you need for a college dorm? A rug! Adding a carpet remnant or inexpensive rug to your floor can help keep your feet warm, especially on cold nights. Select a dark color to camouflage those (inevitably) infrequent cleanings.
  • Wall art: Hang up art prints and photographs to showcase your style, and put up a bulletin board for reminders or notes. Get creative with your wall decor and make your space your own.
  • Plants: At least one plant will brighten up your space and reintroduce oxygen into the room. Try a cactus or succulent for easy care.

Household & Cleaning

  • Disinfectant wipes: A must-have on your college moving packing list, wipes are the easiest and most convenient way to keep surfaces clean.
  • Rechargeable hand vacuum: Need to get into tight corners? A small vacuum will do the trick. 
  • Broom and dustpan: When you don't want to wake anyone with a vacuum cleaner. 
  • Small garbage can and bags: Keep the garbage can by your desk or mini fridge.
  • General surface cleaner: For when you need to clean larger areas. 
  • Rubber gloves: If the thought of getting your hands dirty while cleaning is a no-go, then bring some rubber gloves.


When thinking about what to pack for college, remember to include items that make you feel comfortable, like your favorite books and ornaments. As you can tell, there's a lot of stuff to consider, which is why having a dorm supplies list is super helpful!

And, if you need help moving, Alliance Moving & Storage is more than happy to assist! As trusted college movers, we'll make sure all your belongings on your college packing checklist  arrive safely and on time so you can enjoy this exciting life chapter! We’re affordable and efficient! Why not contact us for a free quote?