Dorm Room Essentials for College Freshman

Dear little sis,

This time last year I was already packed for college and moving in! Crazy, right! I know that’s not the case for most students, and of course our current situation doesn’t make things any easier. Despite all that, I still wanted to share with you some dorm essentials to add to your college packing list! 

Do you need some help with college dorm ideas? Maybe you’re like me and you knew exactly what you wanted. No need to worry. Even if you don’t have everything figured out yet, I promise you’ll make your college dorm feel like home. Stuff is important, and it does bring us joy, but it’s the people you choose to surround yourself with that will truly make your campus a home. 

If you just want a simple dorm room checklist, download my free guide below! This downloadable pdf just serves as a helpful starting point. I wanted to dig a bit deeper in my post today and discuss with all of you the do’s and don’ts of college packing! 

Let’s be honest with ourselves, college dorm rooms are not big! Living in a small house can be fun, and many people even enjoy it… hence the tiny house boom! Small spaces mean we have to be smart about how we pack in order to truly maximize our space. I’m going to share with you a few organizational hacks that worked for my college dorm. 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

For Packing

Many people recommend using storage bins or totes to bring your college supplies, but once you empty them they’re difficult to store, and take up sooooo much room. If you are going to use storage bins, I recommend buying a bulk pack from amazon. I did bring two storage bins to school with me, I used them to put delicate items in. Throughout the year I used those two bins to store snacks or holiday decor. It worked out nicely and only having two didn’t take up too much room.

The item that helped me the most for packing were actually ikea bags. If you don’t have an ikea near you, that’s okay. There are plenty of things like them out there. The nice thing about these bags is that once they’re empty I was able to fold them up and store them away in my college dorm room. They were perfect for carrying all my dorm room essentials like, clothes, cleaning supplies, smaller bins, and bedding. 

Ikea offers a number of different size bags. I even bought some of their grocery bags for when I took trips to the store. If you want to order from their website and have them shipped to you I highly recommend doing so. I bought about 6-8 of the exact bag found here. The bags are much cheaper on Ikea’s website, but if Amazon is how you roll, I found similar bags here

For the small items

Along with the rather large items on the college packing list, there are a number of smaller things we have to remember. Things like desk supplies, and toiletries to name a few. These are the things I considered to be more of my college necessities. I like to pack in things that are multipurpose. So, if I’m going to buy a storage container, I want it to also fit under my bathroom sink or on the closet shelf. 

I used about four smaller containers to bring my college necessities. I purchased mine from, but you can find these at almost any store. It’s really just about finding a size that works for you. I preferred to get shallow containers for under the sink, but deep containers for above my closet. It’s also important to think about what it is you’re trying to store. Detergent usually comes in a taller bottle, so keep that in mind. 

I couldn’t find the exact bins I used on their website, but if you shop in the store they have a lot of options!

Extra storage

I’m a girl so, naturally I have a lot of stuff. I think I had the hardest time choosing which clothes to bring. I still ended up with way too much, but at least I had the storage for it. Every college is different so I recommend checking the website to determine what things will be provided in your college dorm. At Clemson, we were only given one dresser for storage. I knew that wouldn’t be enough for me, so I bought some extra storage that would go nicely with the aesthetic of my room! 

If you want some ideas, Amazon has a ton of storage bins in numerous colors! I liked being able to match my drawers with the rest of my dorm room theme. The 3 bin dresser makes for a great bedside table. I used mine to store my jewelry and my diffuser could sit right next to my bed. Amazon also has larger bins if you’re looking for something you could put a TV on. I know a lot of my friends had a TV/futon setup and it looked really nice. 

Target and Walmart also have a lot of options to choose from. I got my dresser drawers from Target, but wouldn’t really recommend them, haha. They were made of plastic and when I placed heavy things on them they caved in making it hard to open the drawer. I’ll link them here for you if you’d like to check them out. If you aren’t planning on putting anything on top of them then they’re great storage dressers. I just felt not using the top created a lot of wasted space. 

The College Dorm Hacks

I loved having things hung on my walls. Empty space just felt a little less homey. The trouble was finding ways to hang things like, a dry erase board, bulletin board, picture frames, posters, string lights, etc. The answer to all your prayers is command hooks. Be warned, these do sometimes cause trouble when taking them off at the end of the year. Overall, I didn’t have too much trouble with removal. I recommend NOT using command hooks in the bathroom if you have one of your own. The steam from the shower makes them stick to the wall, and it is NOT an easy removal. 

The nice thing about command hooks is they offer a bunch of different styles. I found a super cute one to hang my picture frames on for added style. The command strips that are velcro are great for a nice hidden look. I used the velcro to attach my mirror to the back of our door and for a few picture frames. I lived in a suite and we used a command hook to hang our broom and dust pan as well. 

Power strips

Dorms are old, which means 9 times out of 10 there’s like one outlet for you and your roommate to share. I know all the College what to bring stuff from your university always says not to bring power strips or extension cords. It is a fire hazard, but it’s honestly the only way. Don’t feel guilty about it because everyone is doing it. I had to bring 3 different power strips with me just to power my side of the room. Just don’t plug anything like a refrigerator into those. I used mine to plug in my desk lamp, Keurig, and mini blender. 

This is a very small list of college dorm room essentials. There are a lot of things I would recommend bringing to college and I can make a list of less technical things for all of you later this summer. Be sure to download my Ultimate Packing List for a great college dorm checklist. There you’ll find more essential college dorm items.

All in all, it’s your college experience and what worked for me, might not work for you. It’s important to just spend your first year experimenting. Take the time to discover what you use and don’t use in your dorm. I found there were a lot of things I didn’t end.up needing, but there were also things I wished I had brought. For the initial move in try and pack as lightly as possible. This way you don’t go in with too much, but you have space to add as needed. 

with love,

ashley ardele


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