The Ultimate Dorm Essentials Checklist: What to Bring and Where to Shop

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Dorm Essentials Checklist

Essential dorm items are indicated by a check mark, but some may differ or be worth bringing depending on your budget, preferences, and living situation.

You can also create your own college dorm checklist by selecting or unselecting the check mark boxes. Clicking on any item or section will take you to our review.


     Trash Can
     Trash Bags
     Paper Towels
     Disinfecting Wipes
     All Purpose Cleaner
     Cleaning Rags
     Rubber Gloves


     Dress Clothes

How The Checklist Works

Need vs. Want Ratings

Each dorm item is rated on a 100 point essentialness scale. A score of 0-30 (red) indicates an unnecessary luxury, 35-65 (orange) indicates a helpful item you can still survive without, and 70-100 (green) indicates an item life will be difficult without. Our ratings are based on personal college experiences, surveys we conducted from over 50 college students/10 parents, and reader suggestions.

Mattress Topper
Mattress Protector

Products We Recommend

Our team went shopping for you and compiled a list of helpful dorm products at affordable prices. We recommend comparing prices across retailers and reading reviews before making any purchases. If you’re unable to see our recommended products try disabling your ad blocker or whitelisting our site.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve put together a list of the most frequently asked dorm questions we get from students and parents. Our goal is to provide you with helpful information, but the decision of what to bring or purchase is entirely up to you. 

Best Stores For College Dorm Shopping

1. Amazon

Our top pick for back to college shopping is Amazon, which offers access to thousands of retailers and a free 6 month trial of Amazon Prime. Students who sign up with their .edu email address get free 2-day shipping on all prime eligible products and access to a wide range of services including Prime Video & Music, Amazon Channels, Prime Reading, Exclusive Discounts, and more! Amazon Warehouse also helps students save money by offering open box returns on top products at reduced prices.

2. Target

Another great place for students and parents to do their dorm shopping is Target. Signing up for the free College Registry gives you 15% off your entire online order! The service also gives students the ability to add products to their registry by scanning barcodes in Target stores, set custom order dates, and select a pickup location near their college.

3. Rakuten

Who doesn’t like saving money on shopping you had to do anyways!? Rakuten gives you cash-back on dorm shopping at hundreds of retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, Target,, Kohl’s, Jet, and more. You also get a $10 signup bonus when you create a free account and make a purchase over $25.

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