Parents, prep your teen for school with this college dorm checklist

A picture of the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah.

The S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City is pictured on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. If your teen is heading to college for the first time, make sure they’re prepared with the ultimate college dorm checklist.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

The first day of college is fast approaching. If you’re sending off your first kid to college, there’ll probably be plenty of tears — whether they’re tears of sadness or joy, well, that’s up to you.

Things have probably changed a bit since you last went off to college. College dormitories might look a little different today than when you were in school. To help you set your teen up for success, here’s the ultimate college dorm checklist.

The ultimate college dorm checklist

Your kid’s dorm might provide certain items, like desk lamps or a microwave, so double-check before you create your dorm list and start shopping.

If you’re trying to get your teen ready for college on a budget, you can likely find some of these items at inexpensive stores or even secondhand. You don’t need to break the bank to get everything your kid needs for college.

Room and storage

Here’s everything your teen might need for their room.

  • Storage bins (preferably ones that fit under the bed).
  • Desk lamp.
  • Desk organizer.
  • Bedside lamp.
  • Alarm clock.
  • Table mirror.
  • Small trash can.
  • At least two pillows.
  • Sheets and pillowcases.
  • Blanket.
  • Comforter.
  • Clothes hangers.

Shower/hygienic supplies

Before you stock up on supplies, keep in mind that most dorms have shared bathrooms. Check if your teen has a shared or individual bathroom before buying shower supplies.

  • At least two towels.
  • Bath towels or a loofah.
  • Shower sandals.
  • Shampoo.
  • Conditioner.
  • Body wash.
  • Face wash and other skincare supplies.
  • Toothbrush.
  • Toothpaste.
  • Floss.
  • Mouthwash.
  • Hairbrush.
  • Nail clippers.
  • Tweezers.
  • Cotton swabs.
  • Shower basket.
  • Make-up organizer.

Cleaning supplies

Even though tidying up their dorm might be the last thing on your teen’s mind, make sure they have all the cleaning supplies they might need.

  • Cleaning wipes.
  • Air freshener.
  • All-purpose cleaning sprays.
  • Cleaning towels/rags.
  • Dish soap.
  • Sponge.
  • Magic erasers.
  • Garbage bags.
  • Swiffer sweeper.
  • Duster.
  • Windex.
  • Toilet bowl cleaner.
  • Toilet brush.

Laundry supplies

It’s likely that your teen’s dorm has shared laundry facilities, but you’ll probably want to double-check.

  • Laundry basket/bag.
  • Laundry detergent.
  • Stain remover pens.
  • Quarters (depending on the type of machines in the dorm’s laundry room).
  • Dryer sheets.

School supplies

These school supplies are in addition to any supplies certain classes might require.

  • Backpack.
  • Laptop.
  • Laptop charger.
  • USB drive.
  • Notebooks/binders/folders, depending on your kid’s needs.
  • Planner.
  • Pencils/pens.
  • Highlighters.
  • Pencil holder.
  • Sticky notes.
  • Index cards.
  • Water bottle.

Kitchen supplies

The kitchen supplies you buy will depend on if your teen’s dorm has a shared kitchen or individual kitchens.

  • At least two bowls, plates and cups.
  • At least two sets of silverware.
  • Mug.
  • Food storage containers.
  • Paper towels.
  • Dish towels.
  • Mini waffle maker (can be used to make waffles, eggs, and cinnamon rolls!).
  • Can opener.
  • Hot pads.

Food and snacks

This depends on your teen’s dorm. You might not be able to get some items, like microwaveable meals, because microwaves aren’t allowed in their dorm. And some dorms allow minifridges, so you might be able to keep perishables in your teen’s dorm.

  • Microwaveable popcorn.
  • Bottled water.
  • Protein bars.
  • Granola bars.
  • Oatmeal.
  • Your teen’s favorite snacks.
  • Ramen.
  • Yogurt.
  • Bread.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Jelly.
  • Dried fruit.
  • Tortillas.
  • Shredded cheese.
  • Cold cuts.
  • Mayonnaise.

Medical supplies

You never know when an emergency might strike. Make sure your teen is stocked up on medical supplies.

  • First aid kit.
  • Pain killers.
  • Tissues.
  • Vitamins.

Optional items

Here are some things your child might not need, but would be nice to have.

  • Microwave or hotplate, depending on the dorm’s rules.
  • Fan.
  • Closet organizer.
  • Shoe organizer.
  • Room décor.
  • Mattress topper.
  • Additional storage drawers.
  • Mini refrigerator.
  • Dry erase board and markers.
  • Drying rack.
  • Mini toolkit.
  • Bathrobe.
  • Small vacuum.
  • Full-length mirror.
  • Candle warmer (some dorms don’t allow burning candles, so this is a great alternative).
  • Essential oil diffuser.
  • Lap pillow desk.
  • Mini iron and ironing board.
  • Steamer.

Customize your dorm list based on your teen’s needs

Keep in mind that this is just a general college dorm checklist. Your teen has specific needs, so make sure that you work together to get everything they need.

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