College Dorm Room Checklist

ultimate college dorm room checklist

College Dorm Room Checklist



Getting ready to move to college can be scary and stressful, but shopping for the dorm room shouldn’t be. I have compiled a complete College Dorm Room Checklist to assist you as you navigate the aisles of the super store or order online.

I have stocked three kids with items to go to college and each one (especially my daughter as compared to my sons) has ended up with slightly different items at school depending on their tastes and desires

Your student most likely won’t need or want every item on the list, but the list will help you think about what they should bring.

And best of all, the list is printable!! The list is available in the Printables Library. You may sign up to access it below.


Also check out:

25 Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips

Back to College: The Essential Guide

10 Dorm Room Items They Will Actually Use

Parent Survival Kit for College Move In

ultimate college dorm room checklist

College Dorm Room Checklist


This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see the full disclosure in the foot bar.  

Dorm Room Bed

Your bed is the most important part of your room. You will spend a lot of time there. It is not only where you will sleep, but most likely the most comfortable place to sit and hang out. It will be worth putting a good quality mattress topper and pad and good quality sheets on your college dorm room checklist.  I also recommend a headboard especially one with plug-ins to give you an easy place to charge your phone. 


dorm room ideas

Long Bedskirt for Lofted Beds

A long bedskirt hides the items you store under your bed and gives the room a more finished look. Dormify carries them in many different colors.

dorm headboard

Dorm Headboard

Headboards are a nice thing to have because they give you something soft to lean on. A powered headboard is even better because it gives you a place to plug in your phone at night.

Dorm Bathroom

The most important bathroom items for your college dorm room checklist are your towels and a shower caddy. Monogramming your towels is a nice way to know which ones are yours. You can also choose a favorite color or a color that matches your room. 

For your caddy, make sure it has holes in the bottom. You do not want it to fill with water while you are showering.

casabella shower caddy

Casabella Shower Tote

This Casabella Shower Tote is only $10.99. It is made from a flexible plastic, has holes in the bottom, and an integrated divider inside to help organize your toiletries.

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Clear Grid Shower Tote

One of my sons used this clear grid shower tote for more than 4 years – even after he moved into an apartment. It has holes in the bottom and is a good size for taking to the shower or storing toiletries on the counter or in a cabinet.


You closet is another super important part of your dorm room. It will help if you can get the measurements of the closet. Most have a shelf in the top above the closet rod. I used to include a double closet rod on my college dorm room checklist, but the feedback I hear is that they fall and clothes end up on the floor. 



hanging 60 pocket jewelry organizer

Hanging Jewelry Organizer

A hanging jewelry organizer is perfect if you have a LOT of jewelry. You can store tons of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and more in a super small amount of space with this hanging jewelry organizer.

shoe rack

Shoe Storage

You need to figure out how to store your shoes. This rack is one option. My daughter chose a large basket for her everyday shoes and a few shoe cubbies for her nicer shoes.

hanging organizer

Hanging Storage

A canvas storage hanger can be used for sweaters, purses, or other items.

acrylic desk set

Desk Top Organizers

Fun desk top organizers like this Russell + Hazel Acrylic Bloc Collection keep your desk clean and make it a peaceful place to study.


metal desk drawer organizers

Desk Drawer Organizers

Desk drawer space is at a premium. I love this set! I have it in my own desk.

Cleaning Supplies


Food Area

Fridge Cart

Fridge Cart

These Elfa Rolling Carts with Drawers are the best place to put a fridge. It hold the rented microfridge just fine. When we set up my daughter’s room we initially did not have a cart, but went back to the Container Store to get one so she would have a place for her food. It saves floor space to have the micro fridge on top of a cart.

dorm room ideas

Coffee Station

Set up a coffee station with a coffee maker and pods. Bring a cute container and other accessories to make it a welcoming spot each morning.

Laundry backpack

Laundry Bag

This standup laundry bag is also a backpack so you can easily carry it down the hall to the washers or to the laundromat.

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A Steamer is a space saving option. This Rowenta steamer (which I use all the time instead of an iron) has a delicate and high setting. A steamer does not require a laundry board or an ironing pad.


  • Shelving unit
  • Underbed storage
  • Storage trunk
  • Storage Furniture (These Poppin box seats support 275 pounds and can be collapsed when not in use. Our daughter used hers as a step stool for her lofted bed.)
  • Drawer organizers
  • Makeup organizers
  • Over the door hooks (Great for jackets and coats)
  • Stacking drawers (I LOVE these modular drawers that can be configured to meet your exact storage needs.)
  • Elfa drawers (These are amazing, come in many sizes, can be customized and will last forever. We have had some of our Elfa units for over 20 years. They will go from your child’s dorm room to their first apartment to their first place after graduation and beyond. They are also great for packing in.)
Poppin Seat

Poppin Storage Box

The Poppin Storage Box is another item we went BACK to the the Container Store to get after moving my daughter into the dorm. Why? She needed a step to get onto her lofted bed and if you are going to get a step, you may as well store something in it. (Those beds are up there…. She is 5’8″ and still needed a step stool.)

modular drawers

Modular Stacking Drawers

You will not be sorry you invested in these Modular Stacking Drawers. They are sturdy. The drawers slide well and they can be reconfigured for your apartment closet or any space you need them in. 

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Acrylic Makeup Organizer

Sadly, you will not have use of the entire bathroom counter and drawers in which to store your makeup. Real Acrylic (as opposed to cheap plastic) makeup organizers will last forever and give you a spot for your entire collection of makeup.

Health and Safety

  • The Best First Aid Kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Health Insurance card
  • Room safe (For jewelry, some prescription drugs, laptops, and other electronics that are easily stolen.)
  • Computer lock (There is a tremendous amount of “opportunity theft” on college campuses. No fun to walk away from a laptop for a second and turn around and it is gone.)
  • Surge protector (Fried electronics are not any fun either.)

To Make the Room Comfortable and Personal


Other Practical items

Absolute Must-Haves


dry erase board

Magnetic Dry Erase Board

Make sure you have a magnetic dry erase board and some fun markers!

foldy lock

Bike Lock

Get a sturdy steel bike lock like the Foldy Lock. One of our sons had a Foldy Lock. Someone tried to cut through it and GAVE UP!

The first goal of dorm shopping is to purchase just enough items to comfortably set up a dorm room, but not more than you need. The second goal is to purchase just enough storage items to organize the above items, but not more than you need. Print the College Dorm Room Checklist. Take it with you to the store or use it as you order online.

Some college websites give the exact dimensions of dorm rooms, closets, and any other furniture in the room. If you have this information, take advantage of it, and plan out the room. If not, work with whatever information you have knowing that you can always go to the store or order additional items after you arrive.

If you have taken a child to college, share your advice about what to take, what to leave at home, and how to store it all in the comment section below.

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ultimate college dorm room checklist


The Dorm Shopping Checklist is TOTALLY FREE for members of the Almost Empty Nest Community!

The Dorm Shopping Checklist is part of the Almost Empty Nest Printables Library. Gain access by becoming an Almost Empty Nest Member. 

ultimate college dorm room checklist

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Hey There!

I’m Laura

Welcome to Almost Empty Nest! I began this blog in September 2014 after leaving my oldest son at college and realizing that my nest was emptying. Join me on this journey as we explore the path of guiding our children to adulthood and rediscovering ourselves beyond the mom years.


  1. This is a really great list. I think you’ve covered everything here! I appreciate the printable – makes it so easy to remember everything!

  2. Great tips – things have changed so much since I went away, but there are some things we’ll always need (hello sheets and towels!)

  3. This is a great list just to get your thoughts organized! I know I could have used it when I went off to school. Sharing with some recent grads.


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