College Packing List - Are You Ready for the Next Chapter of Your Life

Heading off to college is an exciting new step! You’re in a new place, you’re on your own, and the world is your oyster. There is a lot to do to prepare for this new chapter though, and sometimes it can be stressful. How do you pick a major? How will you find your way around? How do you pack up your whole life? Luckily, packing is one of the easier tasks as long as you know what to take. So relax, take a deep breath, print out this college packing list, and get started!

College Packing List: Organization

One of the most important purpose to make your college packing list is to organize. Dorm rooms are often small and lacking in storage space, so it is a great idea to bring along tools to help you maximize and utilize the space you do have. Make sure to keep in mind the layout of your dorm room and the type of furniture you will have because this can help you decide what kinds of items will help you stay organized. For example, if you have a bed with room for storage underneath, specialized under-bed storage bins are definitely worth the investment because they can be used for everything including snacks, school supplies, shoes, and clothing.

When it comes to clothing, you’re going to have a lot to think about. Items like hangers might seem like a no-brainer, but the obvious things are usually the first to get left behind when it comes to packing. If you are going to have a small closet, it can be worth looking into special hangers like vertical space-saving hangers or scarf and belt hangers to make sure you get the most out of your limited space. Opting for low-profile hangers can be used because they use less space than traditional hangers.

Speaking of maximizing space, drawer dividers can help you do this too. There are dividers dedicated to organizing and taming unruly underwear or sock drawers, as well as dividers explicitly made for organizing desk drawers. When you’re running out the door for an early morning exam, you’ll want to know precisely where your spare batteries are in your desk: that’s where drawer dividers come in. Here are some organizational items to bring along with you:

  1. Clothes hamper or laundry bag
  2. Desk shelf
  3. Drawer dividers
  4. Hangers
  5. Underbed storage boxes
  6. Zipper storage bags


When you are buying linens and accessories for your new dorm room, make sure to check what size bed you will have. Most college mattresses are Twin XL size, which is slightly longer than a regular Twin size, and you can find specific mattress pads, protectors, toppers and sheet sets to fit them. For things like mattress accessories, you should only need one of each.

For sheets and towels though, it is beneficial to come prepared with two sets. Let’s face it; you’re not always going to be able to do your laundry right away. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where your sheets have a spill, and you have nothing to sleep on, or your towels are dirty when you need to shower. The same goes for pillows and blankets—bring multiples! Having extra pillows or blankets can make your not-so-comfortable, standard-issue mattress a little more welcoming. Plus, you’ll have extras in case friends stay over. Here are some extras that are good to have:

  1. Blankets
  2. Comforter and cover
  3. Mattress pad
  4. Mattress protector
  5. Mattress topper
  6. Pillows
  7. Sheets and pillowcases, two sets
  8. Towels and washcloths, 2 of each

College Packing List: Household and Cleaning Supplies

college packing list: girl with glasses mop cleaning clean

Now that you’ll be all on your own, all the chores, like cleaning and laundry, will be your responsibility. That means you need to include in your college packing list the items like laundry detergent, cleaning spray, and dish soap. The cleaning products will be especially useful on move-in day. In most cases, dorm rooms are left empty over the summer, so they can be pretty dusty when you arrive. You don’t want to put your brand new sheets on a dirty bed frame.

Once you move in, you’ll also need things you might not think about at home, like tools, light bulbs, paper towels—and even quarters. It can be a pain to not have these kinds of items on hand when you need them, so it is always a good idea to come prepared. A few things to take:

  1. Broom
  2. Cleaning wipes
  3. Dish soap
  4. Dish towels
  5. Dryer sheets
  6. Drying Rack
  7. Dustpan
  8. Food storage containers
  9. Glass cleaner
  10. Laundry detergent
  11. Light bulbs
  12. Lint roller
  13. Multi-purpose spray
  14. Paper towels
  15. Quarters
  16. Sewing Kit
  17. Sponges
  18. Stain Remover
  19. Toolkit
  20. Trash bags
  21. Vacuum

Toiletries and Medical

Just like light bulbs and paper towels, it is always good to have a stock of toiletries on hand in case you need them. When you’re packing for college, take a mental note of the products you use every day, as well as the ones you know are in your medicine cabinet or bathroom. You’ll want to pack everyday items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, a brush, and deodorant. Then there are the items you might not think of but are useful to have on hand like over-the-counter medications, bandages, sunscreen, nail clippers, and bug spray. You may never need some of these things, but it is better to have them and not need them than it is to need them and not have them.

It is also helpful to think of things that might come in handy when you are using a shared bathroom. A shower caddy, for example, is a great way to keep all your day-to-day toiletries in one place and carry them between your room and the bathroom. Toothbrush cases and soap cases are also helpful because they will help keep your things clean and separated from other toiletries. Some toiletries and medical supplies:

  1. Allergy medicine
  2. Bandages
  3. Body wash or bar soap
  4. Bug spray
  5. Cold medicine
  6. Condoms
  7. Contacts or glasses
  8. Cotton balls
  9. Cotton swabs
  10. Cough drops
  11. Deodorant
  12. Eye drops
  13. Face Wash
  14. Feminine products
  15. First aid kit
  16. Floss
  17. Hairbrush or comb
  18. Hair dryer and styling tools
  19. Har ties
  20. Lotion
  21. Makeup
  22. Mouthwash
  23. Nail clippers
  24. Nail polish
  25. Nail polish remover
  26. Pain reliever
  27. Prescription medications
  28. Razors
  29. Shampoo and conditioner
  30. Shaving cream
  31. Shower caddy
  32. Soap case
  33. Sunscreen
  34. Tissues
  35. Toothbrush
  36. Toothbrush cover or case
  37. Toothpaste
  38. Tweezers
  39. Upset stomach medication


Your dorm room is your new home, so you’ll want to make it a place you enjoy coming back to after a long day of classes. Include on your college packing list items like photos of your friends and family, your favorite posters, or your favorite mug will help make your room feel like your place. Make sure to use removable adhesive strips or hooks to hang these items; most universities don’t allow things like screws or nails. Check with your roommate, if you have one, and discuss shared items like rugs, refrigerators, and couches to determine who will bring what. Items for your room may include:

  1. Adhesive hooks and strips
  2. Desk lamp
  3. Floor lamp
  4. Full-length mirror
  5. Jewelry organizer
  6. Photos
  7. Posters and art
  8. Seating
  9. Small Safe
  10. Small trash can
  11. String lights
  12. Whiteboard and magnets/cork board and pushpins
  13. Refrigerator
  14. Microwave
  15. Television
  16. Rug
  17. Bowls and plates
  18. Utensils
  19. Plastic cups
  20. Mug
  21. Water bottle
  22. Can opener

Clothing and Accessories

college packing list: clothes-clothing-colors-shirts

An important part of your college packing list is the clothes and accessories. When you are packing clothes and accessories to take to school, be sure to think about what you usually wear on a day-to-day basis and the kind of weather your school will have. If you tend to wear casual clothes all the time, you might not need three formal dresses or suits. On the other hand, if you live in a warm climate at home but are going to school in a colder weather, you might need more sweaters and warm clothing.  Examples of clothing and accessories you can bring:

  1. Bathing suits
  2. Belts
  3. Boots
  4. Bras and sports bras
  5. Casual shoes
  6. Costumes
  7. Fleece
  8. Flip-flops
  9. Gloves
  10. Going-out clothes
  11. Gym bag
  12. Hats
  13. Heels
  14. Jackets
  15. Jeans
  16. Jewelry
  17. Long-sleeve shirts
  18. Pajamas
  19. Pants
  20. Professional clothing
  21. Rain boots
  22. Raincoat
  23. Scarves
  24. Shorts
  25. Short-sleeve shirts
  26. Skirts
  27. Slippers
  28. Sneakers
  29. Snow boots
  30. Socks
  31. Sunglasses
  32. Sweaters
  33. Sweatpants
  34. Sweatshirts
  35. Tank tops
  36. Tights
  37. T-shirts
  38. Underwear
  39. Watch
  40. Winter coat
  41. Workout clothes

School Supplies

photo of sticky notes and colored pens scrambled on table

Don’t forget school supplies! These are the things that will help you succeed in the reason you came to college—classes. You will have some professors who will ask you to purchase specific items such as a specific type of calculator or notebook, but it is still a good idea to have a stock of general supplies that you will use every day. Think about your learning style and study methods to decide what kind of supplies you will need throughout the year.

  1. Calculator
  2. Calendar
  3. Envelopes
  4. File box
  5. File folders
  6. Highlighters
  7. Index card box
  8. Index cards
  9. Markers or colored pens
  10. Paper clips
  11. Pencil bag
  12. Pencils
  13. Pens
  14. Planner
  15. Printer
  16. Scissors
  17. Spiral Notebooks
  18. Stapler
  19. Sticky notes
  20. Tape

Important Documents

Gather necessary documents like your insurance information, your driver's license, and your car registration before leaving for school, and put them in a safe place. If you are taking a file box, it is a good idea to set aside a folder for things like this, so you always know where to find them when you need them. It can be a good idea to have copies of the necessary documents, as well.

  1. Bank information
  2. Car registration and insurance information
  3. Copy of birth certificate
  4. Copy of Social Security card
  5. Credit card
  6. Debit card
  7. Driver’s license
  8. Emergency contact list
  9. Insurance card
  10. Passport
  11. Student ID

There you have it, follow our college packing list for a hassle-free jump start on your way to college.