Dorm Room Needs Tips and Checklist

So, your teen is off to college this fall, starting a new life and that new life is going to cost you 😉 When a teen goes to college, there are many expenses, especially the first year when they are just getting started. This is where all of the money they got for graduation gifts will come in handy as your young adult needs to outfit their dorm room with the necessities. Here is a list of items they will need to bring along to school with tips on how to decide what to buy. I hope you find it helpful!

Small Appliances

Before purchasing any appliances for the dorm room, call the school or read the student handbook to see what is allowed and what isn’t. This will save you money on an expensive coffee pot, if one is not allowed in the dorm rooms. You will also want to know if the college provides vacuums or any other piece of equipment your teen may need to use during their stay there. Here are some suggestions:

  • Alarm clock, a loud one
  • Fan, many dorms do not have air conditioning
  • Lamps, desk lamp, floor lamp, one that clamps on to the bed post for night reading
  • Cell phone
  • Stereo, radio, Ipod, tablet dock
  • Television(optional), these days teens just use their laptops to see the shows they want.
  • Refrigerator; can purchase or rent there
  • Hand vacuum
  • Coffee pot if allowed(optional)
  • Hot pot; you don’t need if allowed a microwave
  • Microwave if allowed(optional)

School Supplies

The thing about school supplies is that teachers – and professors – tend to ask for certain supplies after the first day of school. Then they expect it to magically appear. So, send your young adult with the supplies listed below, but expect that they will be charging some at the school bookstore and give them money to go out and get anything they may need that is not at the college’s bookstore. Your will also want to be sure your young adult has some place to store their books and supplies in their dorm room. Normally there is a desk in the room for each student, so maybe some desktop accessories.

  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Paper – lined, plain or graph
  • Notebooks
  • Sticky notes
  • Highlighters
  • Scissors
  • Calendar
  • Backpack
  • Calculator
  • Laptop and computer supplies; printer, surge protector, ink, disks, etc.

Personal Care Items

Get creative with storing personal items in the college dorm room. You will find that many stores carry handled mini-baskets and buckets to hold toilette and shower items. These become a must when you have to go all the way down the hall to shower or brush your teeth. But for things like putting in and taking out your contacts, your young adult may want to do this in their room. If so, they will want to make a portable station that consists of a hand towel, a stand up mirror contact solution and case. Place all of that in a tote and they are ready to do their contact routine twice a day, every day, while in the dorm. Have your teenager take some time and think through their daily routines and see if there are other areas they can organize.

  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Feminine napkins
  • Tampons
  • Shower shoes
  • Lotion
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Makeup
  • Deodorant
  • Contact lens solution
  • Hairspray/gel etc.
  • Razors
  • Shaving Cream
  • Cosmetics


Dorm rooms have simple linen needs as most come with some type of window covering already. You may want to check if your room has curtains and add that to your list if needed. How many bath towels your teen needs is going to depend on how much laundry they will be getting done during the week and how much space they have to store towels.

  • Extra long twin sheets; 2 sets
  • Extra long twin mattress pad
  • Bath towels; 2-4
  • Hand towels; 2
  • Wash cloths; 2
  • Pillow 1 or 2
  • Pillow cases; 2 per pillow
  • Blanket for the bed and one throw
  • Comforter as a bed spread
  • Curtains if needed

For the laundry:

You know that your teen will be coming home with tons of laundry to do, but they will still have to do some laundry at school and over the next four years, they will start doing more and more of it. The most important part is to get rolls of change if you need those. This will be a small deterrent from using the money for other things. Your teen may also want to keep the fact that they have change on the down-low or they may be asked to make change for everyone on their floor.

Check with the college and ask how much per load you will be paying. Also ask if they have a change machine and where it is located.

  • Laundry hamper – collapsible or a bag
  • Laundry basket to carry dirty laundry down to the wash room and back
  • Laundry detergent
  • Laundry dyer sheets
  • Change, or you may be able to use id cards.

Medications and personal needs:

A box container is important to have to place all medications inside. This will allow your young adult to stow away the meds so that no one can get into them for reasons other then what the medication is taken for, or using them up without your teen’s knowledge. You will also want to keep any leaking medications from getting all over a closet space. Think of the box as a portable medicine cabinet.

  • Glasses
  • Contacts and solution
  • Headache pills
  • Cold and flu medicine
  • First aid kit; band aids, alcohol swabs, q-tips, ace bandage, etc.

Cleaning items for the dorm room

Together with your new roommate, put together a bucket of cleaning items for the dorm room and Your daily needs. Remember that your teen will be washing their own dishes, cleaning off desks, etc and add the correct cleaners to the bucket. If the bucket is not needed to clean, it does serve the purpose of keeping these cleaners together and portable.

  • Dish soap and sponge
  • Glass cleaner
  • All purpose cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • Deodorizing spray

Other needs:

  • Hangers; multi pants and skirt hangers work well in a dorm closet
  • Extension cords
  • Removable poster adhesive
  • Under the bed storage container
  • Trash can and bags; small
  • Milk crates or other storage type containers
  • Throw rugs(optional)
  • Dishes; bowl, plate, utensils, mug
  • Can opener
  • Cutting knife and board

Please add to our list by letting us know what you think is missing in the comments area.

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