Everything You Need to Pack for Your Dorm in 2020 + Free Printable Checklist!

The summer before your freshman or transfer year of college will most likely be your favorite. Not only will you have zero academic responsibilities (unless you put that upon yourself), there will also be this excitement buzzing through you because you’re about to begin a new chapter of your life. One of my favorite things about getting ready for college is back to school shopping. Unlike before when you only buy school supplies, this summer you get to pick out new decor and furniture for the place that will be your home away from home for the next few months. In this post, I have rounded up links to dorm room essentials for 2020 . THESE ARE ABSOLUTE MUST HAVES!! After living in my college campus for 2 years, I cannot recommend the following products enough. I’m also giving you a FREE college dorm checklist for everything you need to pack for your dorm in 2020.

Related: CHEAP BACK TO SCHOOL SUPPLIES FOR 2020-2021 + FREE CHECKLIST

RELATED: 20 INSANELY EASY WAYS TO SAVE MONEY IN COLLEGE

HERE’S SOME IMPORTANT ADVICE BEFORE SHOPPING:

  1. Avoid shopping for everything all at once at the last minute. This will add unnecessary stress! Starting college in itself is already a lot to handle! Give yourself time to shop, and have fun with it.
  2. If you know you want to get something, don’t wait to buy it! Popular dorm items sell out quickly as the summer comes to an end. Think about how many kids are about to enter college!
  3. Some of the best stores to shop at are Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Amazon just because you can find some really cute things at an affordable price.
  4. Use Pinterest to find dorm room and decor inspiration and hacks. If you need inspo, follow my Pinterest board for college dorm room inspiration!
  5. Stay as organized as possible, especially if you’re moving far away from home. Make a list on everything you need to pack (USE MY FREE CHECKLIST!). Then, make a list of things you need to buy. Once you start to gather things and pack, be sure to note where you’re putting each item and if you’ve packed it already. It can get confusing because not only are you bringing clothes, but you’re also bringing things for laundry, food, etc. I made a Google spreadsheet and color coded where I put each item in. The reason why I was really particular about this is because I was moving to a school that was 9 hours away by car. I didn’t have the luxury to go home during the weekend and pick up things that I had forgotten.

GET YOUR FREE COLLEGE DORM CHECKLIST TODAY

Trust me. This free college dorm checklist will make packing so much easier for you! Click the button below to receive it directly in your inbox.


HERE ARE THE MUST HAVE COLLEGE DORM ROOM ESSENTIALS FOR 2020:

Navigation for this post to make your life easier 🙂 :

College Dorm Bedding

1) Mattress Pad

Do yourself a favor and get a mattress pad.
College beds are uncomfortable, but the topper will give you the best sleep!

Trust me. After sleeping on a mattress pad, you will thank me later! The pad is just an extra layer of padding that you can put on your bed like a bed sheet. It will make your bed softer and more comfortable, which is important because good sleep is a necessity in college. NOTE: buy one with a fitted sheet to make sure that it is snug on your bed.

The mattress pad that I had was the Exceptional Sheets Bamboo Mattress Pad on Amazon, and it made my bed feel like I was sleeping on a cloud! This mattress pad was made out of a bamboo cooling topper since memory foam tends to overheat while you sleep. It never got hot with this mattress topper, even when I was sleeping on the top bunk. This mattress pad is a bit pricy ($90.99), but it is worth it in the long run, especially if you are going to be living on a college campus for more than one year. You can also pass it down to younger siblings when they go to college! In case you’re not willing to spend that much, I’ve linked some cheaper alternatives below that were rated over 4 stars from thousands of reviewers. 🙂

Exceptional Sheets Bamboo Mattress Pad

Like a cloud with unbeatable comfort and gentle support.
Cooling bamboo topper makes it breathable
Filled with Revoloft, a state-of-the-art fiberfill that has the feel of authentic goose & duck down without the feathers, poking or allergies
100% Hypoallergenic
More sizes available

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2) Mattress Protector

This might be a bit TMI, so brace yourself. Honestly, you don’t really know how well the college will clean your bed before you move in. If they’ll even do that at all!

Think about all of the potential dust mites, bed bugs, dirt, and bacteria that may be living in there.


You MUST protect your sheets and YOU from them! That’s why I highly recommend buying a mattress protector as the base layer before adding your mattress pad, sheets, and blankets. Even if you don’t end up purchasing a mattress pad, please buy this for your own peace of mind! I’ve linked some highly rated ones below from Amazon. Both are also waterproof and hypoallergenic!

3) Twin XL Comforter Set

I’m in LOVE with plain white bedding, and if you’re like me, unfortunately it’s not the best idea for college dorms. My white sheets, pillow case, and blankets eventually got stained and dirty throughout my stay in college. That’s why I recommend that you get bedding in color. There are a lot of cute bedding sets on Amazon that come with everything you need: fitted sheet, flat sheet, comforter, pillowcase, and maybe more! Buying everything in a set will make your bed feel more coordinated, and will save you time from buying the other pieces separately! Click on the links below to see all of the designs and colors available.

Check out these cute twin XL comforter sets under $40 from Amazon!

4) Pillow

You can totally bring your pillows from home, but in case you want to buy new ones, check out the products below. I don’t really have much to add for tips on purchasing pillows because it all depends on YOUR preference. 🙂 These pillows are the most affordable and highly rated ones I found.

Check out these comfy pillows under $25 from Amazon!

5) Throw Blanket

If you get cold easily, especially during the winter, I recommend that you also bring a throw blanket in addition to a comforter. A throw is also great for when you and your friends have movie nights or are just chilling together in your living area.

Check out these ultra soft throws under $20 from Amazon!

6) Bed Caddy

Bed caddies are detachable storage pockets that you can hang over the side of your bed. This is especially useful if you are on the top bunk because it can be a hassle going back and forth to get stuff at night! It’s also useful for making sure that you don’t lose anything on your bed, such as phones, sleeping masks, ear plugs, etc. Before I would sleep, I would put my phone, alarm clock, and books in the bed caddy.

Check out these bed caddies from Amazon!

7) Clip On Light

Another super helpful item to consider getting is a clip on light! This is especially useful if you want to lie in bed and read or do homework but don’t want to wake up your roommates. All you have to do is clip the light on the side of your bed rail! Since I was on the top bunk and didn’t have access to a lamp from my bed, I was super glad I bought this.

Check out this clip on light from Amazon. It’s adjustable and has different light settings!

LEPOWER Metal Clip on Light

Clip on: Brighten up with the click of a switch on the cord
Free Angle Adjustable of arm and lamp holder
2 switches on the cord. One has three options: Warm light, off and White light. The other has two options to adjust the brightness: dim and bright.
More colors available

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8) Phone Charger Cable / Power Strip

Another problem in college dorms is the lack of outlets! If you want to charge your phone while sleeping, but have no outlets nearby, how do you solve this? Bring a phone charger cable cord and/or a power strip!! The iPhone charger below is 6-ft long, and the power strip is 5-ft long. Notice how the design of the power strip is compact. You can totally fit this in your bed caddy!

Check out these iPhone Charger Cords and Power Strip!

GET YOUR FREE COLLEGE PACKING LIST TODAY

The Ultimate College Packing List - Everything You Need to Pack for College Dorm

Trust me. This free college packing list will make packing so much easier for you! Click the button below to receive it directly in your inbox.

College Dorm Desk

1) LED Lamp

An LED lamp that can change brightness and warmth is a MUST have for studying in college. Here’s why:

  1. Lighting is an important factor for an efficient study session.
  2. A lamp is useful when you need to study late at night while your roommates are sleeping
  3. Lastly, LED lamps don’t overheat like bulb lamps do, which is a major plus.

I’ve been using my Ultrabrite LED lamp for the past three years, and I love having the freedom to change the light settings. All of the places I’ve lived in had different lighting, so it’s nice to be able to adjust the lamp to fit the place. Also, the Ultrabrite LED lamp had a fan, 2 USB ports, and adjustable neck! Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t carry it, but I’ve linked LED lamps that are very similar and highly rated below.

Check out these LED lamps Under $50 from Amazon!

2) Face Mirror

When you live in a dorm, the mirrors provided are limited to the bathroom, which may be tight in space. If you want to do your makeup or skin care regime, the mirrors might already be taken by other girls in your suite. In addition, the bathroom may not be the best set up for doing make up. That’s why I recommend that you bring your own face mirror to put on your desk. That way, you can do everything you need comfortably and in your own space. The mirrors come with LED lights and are the same price as those without!

Check out these LED Mirrors Under $18 from Amazon!

3) Alarm Clock

If your phone alarm is unreliable or if you want to make sure you have a backup at all times, definitely bring an alarm clock! You don’t want to risk waking up late for a class or an exam and having your grade drop. It’s the WORST feeling. Trust me. Been there, done that. Having a clock in your room is also nice and convenient! You don’t need anything fancy. Just something to get the job done.

Check out these alarm clocks under $15 from Amazon!

4) Small Fan

Dorm rooms can get stuffy, especially if there’s multiple people living in one room. Bring a small fan that you can prop on your desk for when it gets hot. I would turn mine on while studying and sometimes at night! It definitely comes in handy.

Check out these small fans under $20 from Amazon!

5) Pencil Organizers

If you’re into desk organization, here are some cute pencil organizers under $13 from Amazon! You can also go to Marshall’s or Target and find some affordable organizers there.

Check out these pencil organizers under $13 from Amazon!

Related: Cheap Back to School Supplies for 2020 + Free Printable Checklist

GET YOUR FREE BACK TO SCHOOL SUPPLIES CHECKLIST TODAY

Trust me. This free back to school supplies list will make shopping so much easier for you! Click the button below to receive it directly in your inbox.

Laundry

1) Bring 2 FOLDABLE Laundry Bags

You’re going to need a place to store your dirty clothes, so I highly suggest that you get a foldable laundry bag for those. You’ll also want to get another laundry bag or foldable hamper for your clean clothes coming from the dryer. The reason why you should get foldable bags are because space is limited in a dorm! This will help you save as much space as possible. It’s also easier on you while packing.

Buy these laundry bags under $7 from Amazon!

Nylon Laundry Bag

(Use this for dirty clothes. It has a drawstring, so your clothes won’t smell up the room!)

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Mesh Popup Laundry Hamper

Use the hamper for clean laundry. It’s easy to carry to and from the laundry room.

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2) Foldable Drying Rack

If you frequently air dry your clothes because you’re afraid of them shrinking, get this foldable drying rack. I would set it up next to my window and let my clothes dry. Once they’re done drying, it’s easy to store it back in my closet or under my bed.

Buy this foldable drying rack from Amazon!

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3) Iron and Mini Iron Board

If you frequently iron your clothes, I’ve linked an iron and mini iron board below. If you’re on the fence about purchasing these, my reason for buying them was because I knew I’d be using it for the rest of my 4 years in college and beyond. You never know when you’re going to need to iron your clothes (ex: formal, professional interview, or a date). 😉 You don’t have to get the most expensive iron since you’re not going to use it daily. Just get one that’s affordable and good quality!

Check out this iron and iron board under $30 from Amazon!

4) Laundry Detergent and Dryer Sheets

Out of everything on the laundry list, these are the most important! You can’t do laundry without detergent and dryer sheets lol! If possible, buy these products in larger amounts ahead of time because you may not have the freedom to go to the store whenever you want as a freshman with no car. On top of that, campus stores are super expensive.

Check out these laundry products from Amazon!

Bath

1) Mesh Shower Caddy

This is a MUST HAVE for showering!! Since the bathroom is a shared space, you don’t want to leave your shower things there. This is where the shower caddy comes in! It’s basically a little basket that you can put your soap in and then hang it on the shower’s knob. I HIGHLY recommend getting a mesh caddy instead of a plastic one because it’s easier to drain the water from the mesh caddy. You don’t want to create puddles when you bring the caddy back to your room! Mesh caddies are also easier to hang in the shower.

Check out these mesh shower caddies under $10 from Amazon!

2) Towels

I recommend bringing 2 towels and a face towel. The reason why you should bring more than one towel is because it’s always good to have a backup just in case the other one is in the laundry or you bring one to the beach.

Check out these towel sets under $21 from Amazon!

3) Shower Slippers

Since so many people use one shower and you don’t know how clean the floor is, wear flip flops while you shower!

Check out these shower slippers from Amazon!

4) Poo-Pourri or Febreeze

I think you know what you need this for LOL. 😉

Related: How to Get Good Grades in School This Year: The Ultimate Guide

Food

1) Mini Fridge

Most dorm floors don’t have a fridge, so it’s highly recommended that you and your roommates split a mini fridge. That way you can store snacks, drinks, dairy, leftovers, and fruits/veggies in your room. Cafeteria food will get boring, so you’ll be super grateful to have a fridge once this mood hits.

Check out these mini fridges under $100 from Amazon!

2) Reusable Water Bottle

One thing that I’ve learned is that water bottles are easier to lose than you’d think. If you’re prone to losing water bottles, don’t buy an expensive one! Yes, I’m talking about Hydro Flasks. There are cheaper options that are still good quality. As long as you get a water bottle that will keep your drinks cool/hot and is preferably made from stainless steel, you’re good.

Here’s why it’s suggested to buy stainless steel water bottles over plastic:
1) Stainless steel is 0% BPA (unlike plastic), which is a harmful chemical
2) Stainless steel is recyclable, unlike plastic
3) They keep your drinks cool/hot
4) They’re reusable, so you save money from buying bottled water!
5) They keep mold and bacteria away
Read more pros to stainless steel bottles here!

If you are set on spending the extra bucks on a beautiful, colorful Hydro Flask, I highly recommend them. I bought one last year, and it’s still in amazing condition. It keeps my water cool and my tea hot the entire day. Honestly, the only reason why I bought my Hydro Flask is because it’s in my absolute favorite shade of blue, and it was the only brand sold at my school. Nonetheless, I am very happy with my Hydro.

Hydro Flask (18 oz Standard Mouth)

Stainless steel
Very sturdy
Has handle strap (more useful than you’d think)
Easy to clean
More colors, sizes, and caps available

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Cheaper Stainless Steel Water Bottles from Amazon Under $25!

The water bottles below function just as well as Hydro Flasks, have more types of designs, come with multiple caps when purchased, AND ARE CHEAPER! If something ever happens to my Hydro Flask, I am buying one of these.

Hydro Cell (18 oz)

Only $15
✓ Comes with 2 types of caps
Has handle strap
Water stays cold for 24 hours
More colors and sizes available

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Iron Flask (18 oz)

✓ Comes with 3 types of caps
Has handle strap
Durable, yet elegant design
More colors, sizes, and caps available

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Simple Modern (17 oz)

Copper coated insulation
Has handle lid
More colors, sizes, and caps available

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3) Water Filter

Instead of buying bottled water every week, it’s a good idea to invest in a water filter. You’ll save money and time because you won’t have to continuously go to the store and restock on bottled water. You’ll also be helping the environment by reducing plastic usage. If you’re able to buy something that’s reusable, do it! Below, I’ve linked some really popular water filters that most people in college have. I’ve tried the Brita Filter and Zero Water Filter, and the water that gets filtered tastes great for both!

5) Mugs

Bring 1 or 2 mugs for water or for when you make tea, coffee, and hot cocoa!

Check out these cute mugs under $10 from Target!

6) 1 Set of Bowls, Plates, and Utensils

You don’t need to go all out when bringing bowls, plates, and utensils. I’d recommend that you just bring 1 of each and then wash them right after. You’ll be eating at the cafeteria most of the time, so it’s not necessary to bring a lot of dishes and utensils.

Clothes

1) Over-the-Door Mirror

Remember how I said that mirrors are limited in college dorms? Split an over-the-door mirror with your roommates so that you can always have easy access to a mirror to view your outfits! Since it’s over-the-door, you’ll also being saving space in your room.

Buy this over-the-door mirror under $17 from Target!

Over-the-Door Mirror - Room Essentials™ - image 1 of 4

2) Hangers

My favorite hangers are these non-slip velvet ones. They make your closet look well-coordinated and you’re not using up any plastic. They’re also really thin, which is great for saving space!

Buy this pack of 30 velvet hangers for $15 from Amazon!

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3) Shoe Organizers

If you plan on bringing a lot of shoes, consider getting these space-saving shoe racks that you can hang in your closet or store under your bed. I personally like this one because it has a zipper closure option so that your shoes won’t smell up the room!

Check out these shoe organizers under $15 from Amazon!

4) Compact Folding Umbrella

Most college students forget to bring an umbrella! Every time it would rain unexpectedly, my college markets would be sold out of umbrellas. Not to mention, they always up price things as simple as an umbrella. Make sure to bring your own good quality umbrella!

Check out these windproof folding umbrellas from Amazon!

5) 3 Drawer Medium Cart

My dorm room had a really small cabinet for to fit all of my clothes. My solution to getting extra storage was buying 2 of these 3 drawer medium carts from Target. I managed to squeeze one under my desk and one inside of my closet. I highly recommend these if you need extra storage! (the wheels are detachable)

Buy this 3 drawer medium cart for $12 from Target!

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School Supplies

Read this SUPER helpful post for MUST HAVE back to school supplies:
Cheap Back To School Supplies for 2020! (Download Your Free Checklist Today)

First Aid

  • band aids
  • antiseptic wipes
  • first aid kit
  • pain killers
  • pepto bismol
  • emergen-c
  • thermometer

GET YOUR FREE COLLEGE PACKING LIST TODAY

Trust me. This free college packing list will make packing so much easier for you! Click the button below to receive it directly in your inbox.

Read this Post Next:
20 Insanely Easy Ways to Save Money in College


The ultimate college dorm packing list. Everything you need to bring to college. Click to download your free printable!

Want more college dorm inspiration and college hacks? Follow my Pinterest boards!