A single at Willkie Hall at Indiana University Bloomington

College Supplies You'll Really Need

Jacob Buckheit | Published July 2

Whether setting up your first-year dorm or moving into off-campus student housing, use this college supply checklist to bring what you really need. Get organized early to determine what you need to pack from home and what to buy when you arrive on campus.

College Move-In Day Tips

Move-in day on campus can be stressful, but it's also full of excitement. Make sure you keep a few items accessible to make your moving experience a smooth one. Whether you are a paper person or electronic, either print, bookmark or screenshot your specific move-in instructions. Some campuses assign traffic patterns, specific parking lots and key pick-up locations that you'll need to know before you arrive. Get ready for the welcome committee, students who volunteer for orientation or move-in assistance are enthusiastic and ready to help!

Pack a "go bag" with the essentials that will help you get started. Cleaning wipes or spray and paper towels are often the first things you'll need on opening your door. You may even want to clean the floor before you start loading in your decor. Scissors are especially important to have access to early! A large garbage bag is handy to have on hand to dispose of packaging since the large, shared cans often fill up early. Additionally, having easy access to your command strips or sticky tape will help get things hanging and out of your way.

Finally, be aware of alternate shopping locations that might be a little bit out of the way. The closest Bed, Bath and Beyond and Target are guaranteed to be packed on move-in week and supplies may run low. Map other nearby locations for your favorite store or consider alternatives like Walmart, big-box hardware stores or dollar stores. Free-standing storage drawers, shelving units, hangers, kitchen items and school supplies are available at a wide variety of stores and thinking outside the box might help you find what you need without facing the crowds. Large stores often set up special sections targeted at setting up dorms, but be sure to search in the usual store aisles for regularly stocked items that might be surplus of what is duplicated in the college student department.

Dorm Packing List



  • 2 Towels
  • Washcloths, Face Towels
  • Tissues
  • Cotton swabs, Cotton balls
  • Shower Caddy
  • Shower Shoes/ Rubber Flip-flops
  • Shampoo, Conditioner
  • Soap, Shower Gel
  • Deodorant
  • Contact Lenses, Eyeglasses
  • Shaving Kit
  • Tweezers
  • Nail Clippers
  • Sanitary Supplies
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss
  • Toothbrush Cup
  • Hair Brush, Comb, Hair-ties
  • Make Up
  • Facial Cleanser
  • Moisturizing Lotion
  • Lip Balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Hair Products
  • Hair Dryer, Flat Iron, Curling Iron


  • Non-Damaging Picture Hanging Strips
  • Non-Damaging Hooks
    • Try to get these before move in day! They will usually be sold out at the local target and hardware stores during move in.
  • Adhesive Putty
  • White Board, Dry-Erase Markers
  • Wall Décor: Pictures from home, Posters, Tapestry, State Flag
  • Area Rug
  • Desk Plant, Cactus
  • Mirror
  • Extra, Fold-away Seating
  • Throw Pillows
  • Twinkle Lights/LED Strips
  • Bookcase Shelving


  • Mini Fridge/Freezer
  • Microwave
  • Electric Tea Kettle
  • Rice Cooker
  • Coffee Mug
  • Paper Plates
  • Napkins
  • Plastic Cutlery
  • Chip Clip
  • Refillable Water Bottles
  • Re-sealable bags and containers
  • Can Opener


  • Candy, Gum, Mints
  • Bottled water
  • Granola, Protein Bars
  • Microwave Popcorn
  • Cereal
  • Dried Fruit
  • Beef Jerky
  • Instant Coffee, Tea, Coffee Pods
  • Hot Chocolate Packets
  • Microwaveable Pantry Products: Instant Macaroni and Cheese
  • Ramen Noodles
  • Soup
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Nut Butter
  • Bread, Wraps, Tortillas


  • Pop-up Laundry Hamper
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Laundry Money
  • Laundry Drying Rack
  • Mini Sewing Kit
  • Multi-Surface Disinfecting Wipes
  • Multi-Surface Disinfecting Spray
  • Mini Trash Can
  • Small Dishwashing Soap, Sponge



  • Hangers
  • Class Wear
  • Gym Wear
  • Interview Wear
  • Night Out Wear
  • Weather Wear (Rain, Snow)
  • Weekend Wear
  • Boots (Rain, Snow)
  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Pajamas
  • Bathing Suit


  • Prescription Medications
  • Sunglasses
  • TV
  • Video Gaming Device
  • Stamps, Envelopes
  • Umbrella
  • Yoga Mat
  • Key Chain/Lanyard, Safety Whistle
  • Removable Wall Hooks
  • Clip Fan
  • Under-bed Storage
  • Surge Protector/Power Strip
  • Electronics Chargers
  • Wireless Speaker
  • Ear Buds/Headphones
  • Over the Counter Pain Reliever
  • Over the Counter Antacid
  • Band Aids
  • Beach Towel
  • Gym Bag
  • Copy of Important Documents: Passport, Health Insurance Card
  • Name Labels for Clothing and/or Shared Items


Want to print out our packing list? Download a printable PDF version of this list.


Get Your Student Amazon Prime

Our final suggestion to make the transition as easy as possible is to help your future student get set up with their own Amazon Prime account. Amazon Prime for Students is a reduced price service that includes all of the great perks of Amazon Prime at a fraction of the cost. Students who sign up in August get the service for 6 months completely free, giving them access to free 2 day shipping, music, and TV streaming, as well as a host of other benefits.


We've included links on Amazon to some of our favorite dorm room items from the list above. These links are affiliate links and we may receive compensation if you decide to purchase the item.

Jacob Buckheit

Carnegie Mellon University Class of 2020

Jacob Buckheit graduated in the Spring of 2020 from Carnegie Mellon University with a major in Information Systems and a minor in Software Engineering. He was a member of the Varsity swim team, and was a team member in research projects throughout his time on campus.

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