What to Bring to College: The Best College Packing List EVER

Click here to download a printable version of this list!

We at HC know there are few things more daunting than packing up your life to move into your (really tiny) dorm or apartment at college, especially if you’re a freshman. What do you need to bring with you? What sounds like a great idea to pack now, but will just end up unused and taking up precious closet space? What if you forget something important (hello, health insurance card) and you can’t get it until Thanksgiving?

Lucky for you, we know exactly what you need to bring to college. Just use this all-inclusive checklist that covers everything from bedding to food to medicine, and you’re guaranteed to not have any of those awful “oh-no-I-forgot-X-important-thing” moments on move-in day.

Click here to download a printable version of this list!

Bedding

  • Bedbug-protecting mattress cover
  • Duvet and duvet cover or comforter set  (HC Pick: IKEA SMÖRBOLL
  • Foam topper
  • Mattress pad
  • Pillowcases
  • Pillows
  • Sleeping bag or air mattress
  • Throw blanket (HC Pick: IKEA EIVOR)
  • Throw pillows (HC Pick: IKEA MATTRAM
  • Twin XL bed skirt
  • Twin XL sheet set (and an extra set) (HC Pick: IKEA DVALA

Room

  • Additional seating (beanbag chair, folding chair, comfy chair, etc.) (HC Pick: IKEA TOBIAS
  • Adhesive hooks and strips (that come off cleanly)
  • Alarm clock (HC Pick: IKEA VÄCKIS
  • Area rug (HC Pick: IKEA SÖFTEN
  • Bed risers (HC Pick: IKEA ANDFISKÅ
  • Bedside table (HC Pick: IKEA RAST
  • Bulletin board and/or dry erase board (HC Pick: IKEA VÄGGIS
  • Closet organizer
  • Coffee table (HC Pick: IKEA LACK
  • Curtain rods (if needed)
  • Curtains (HC Pick: IKEA VIVAN
  • Dorm trunk
  • Floor lamp (HC Pick: IKEA SVIRVEL
  • Full-length mirror
  • Futon
  • Hangers (HC Pick: IKEA BUMERANG
  • Jewelry organizer (HC Pick: IKEA PALLRA
  • Jewelry safe
  • Over-the-door storage units
  • Photos
  • Picture frames or photo clips (HC Pick: IKEA FISKBO
  • Push pins/magnets/whiteboard markers
  • Shoe rack
  • Skirt hangers
  • Space bags
  • Stepladder
  • Trashcan (HC Pick: IKEA FNISS
  • Underbed storage (HC Pick: IKEA SKUBB
  • Wall art (posters, wall decals, etc.) (HC Pick: IKEA PJÄTTERYD)
  • Wonder Hangers

Laundry

  • Bleach
  • Color catchers
  • Drying rack
  • Fabric softener
  • Garment bag
  • Iron
  • Ironing board (HC Pick: IKEA JÄLL
  • Laundry detergent
  • Laundry hamper or bag (HC Pick: IKEA FYLLEN
  • Lingerie bag
  • Lint brush (HC Pick: IKEA BÄSTIS
  • Portable stain remover pen
  • Quarters
  • Sewing kit
  • Stain remover

Food

  • Bottled water
  • Bread
  • Bulk snacks (candy, granola, dried fruit, etc.)
  • Cereal
  • Coffee
  • Coffee creamer
  • Easy Mac
  • Granola bars
  • Instant hot chocolate
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Popcorn
  • Ramen
  • Soup
  • Sugar

Desk/School Supplies - Want more HC picks? Shop our faves at Office Depot

  • Address book
  • Backpack or tote bag
  • Binder clips
  • Binders
  • Business cards
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Cards/notes to send home
  • Clicker (if you need one for class)
  • Desk chair
  • Desk lamp
  • Desk organizer
  • Envelopes
  • Erasers
  • File folder for important documents
  • Folders
  • Glue
  • Highlighters
  • Hole punch
  • Index cards
  • Journal
  • Laptop fan/stand
  • Leisure books (one or two)
  • Letter opener
  • Notebook paper
  • Notebooks
  • Notepads
  • Paper clips
  • Pencil case
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Pencils
  • Pens/colored pens (HC Pick: Paper Mate® InkJoy® Gel Pens
  • Planner
  • Portfolio/portfolio case for interviews
  • Post-it notes
  • Rubber bands
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Stamps
  • Staple remover
  • Stapler (HC Pick: See Jane Work® Stapler
  • Staples
  • Tape
  • Textbooks
  • Three-hole punch
  • Wite-Out

Kitchen Supplies

  • Blender
  • Bottle opener
  • Broom
  • Can opener
  • Chip clips
  • Coffee maker (if your school allows it) (HC Pick: IKEA UPPHETTA
  • Dish towels
  • Dishes (bowls, plates, cups)
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Duster
  • Dustpan
  • Glass cleaner
  • Hand soap
  • Microwave (if your school allows it)
  • Mini fridge (if your school allows it)
  • Mini vacuum
  • Mugs
  • Oven mitt
  • Paper plates
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic wrap
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Sealable plastic bags
  • Sponges
  • Swiffer
  • Tinfoil
  • Toaster (if your school allows it)
  • Trash bags
  • Travel mug (HC Pick: IKEA EFTERSÖKT
  • Tupperware
  • Utensils (HC Pick: IKEA DITO
  • Water boiler
  • Water filter pitcher

Tech

  • Batteries
  • Camera
  • Chargers (phone, laptop, camera, etc.)
  • E-reader
  • Ethernet cable
  • Extension cords
  • External hard drive
  • Flash drives (HC Pick: EMTEC Wallpaper USB 2.0 Flash Drive
  • HDMI cable
  • Headphones and spare headphones (HC Pick: JLab JBuds Diego Earbuds
  • Keyboard
  • Lap desk
  • Laptop
  • Laptop Case
  • Microsoft Office
  • Portable phone charger
  • Printer
  • Printer ink
  • Printer paper
  • Recording device for lectures
  • Router
  • SD card for camera
  • Spare cables
  • Speakers
  • Surge protectors
  • Tablet
  • TV
  • TV stand
  • Wireless mouse

Bathroom

  • Air freshener
  • Bath pouf
  • Bath towels
  • Bathrobe
  • Bathroom cleaning supplies (if you need them for your dorm: i.e., drain cleaner, glass cleaner, rubber gloves, shower cleaner, sponges, toilet brush, toilet cleaner)
  • Bathroom rug
  • Hand towels
  • Loofah
  • Scale
  • Shower caddy
  • Shower cap
  • Shower curtain and rings (if needed)
  • Shower mat
  • Shower organizer (if your school allows it)
  • Shower shoes
  • Tumbler/cup
  • Upgraded showerhead (if your school allows it)
  • Washcloths

Toiletries

Products

  • Acne medicine/cream
  • Antibacterial gel
  • Bar soap
  • Body wash
  • Conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Eye cream
  • Face wash
  • Hair gel
  • Hair mousse
  • Hairspray
  • Lip balm
  • Lotion (HC Pick: Vera Bradley Body Lotion)
  • Makeup
  • Makeup remover
  • Moisturizer
  • Mouthwash
  • Nail polish
  • Nail polish remover
  • Shampoo
  • Shaving Cream
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothpaste
  • Wax

Supplies

  • Blow dryer
  • Bobby pins
  • Comb
  • Contacts, solution, and case
  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton swabs
  • Curling iron
  • Diffusers
  • Eyeglass cleaner
  • Eyeglasses and case
  • Floss
  • Hair clips
  • Hair curlers
  • Hair straightener
  • Hair ties (HC Pick: Vera Bradley Shimmery Stretch Hair Ties)
  • Hairbrush
  • Hand mirror
  • Headbands
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail files
  • Pumice stone
  • Razor
  • Round brush
  • Sunglasses
  • Sweatbands
  • Tampons and pads
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Tweezers

Clothing

Documents

  • Bank documents
  • Car registration and insurance information
  • Checks
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Copy of Social Security card
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Driver’s license
  • Emergency contact list
  • Enrollment documents
  • Financial aid documents
  • Health/dental insurance cards
  • Lease (if you have an apartment)
  • Passport
  • Product warranties
  • Renters insurance (if you have an apartment)
  • Student ID

Medical

  • Allergy medicine
  • Aloe lotion
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Bandages
  • Birth control
  • Blister bandages
  • Cold and flu medicine
  • Condoms
  • Cortisone cream
  • Decongestant
  • Eye drops
  • First aid kit
  • Hot and cold packs
  • Humidifier
  • Insect repellent
  • Multivitamins
  • Over-the-counter pain medication
  • Prescription medicine
  • Prescription refill information
  • Retainer/mouth guard
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Supplements (iron pills, etc.)
  • Thermometer
  • Thermometer covers
  • Throat drops/lozenges
  • Throat spray
  • Upset stomach medication
  • Vaseline

Misc.

  • Art supplies
  • Beach towel
  • Bike
  • Bike helmet
  • Bike lock
  • Board games
  • Duct tape
  • Earplugs
  • Fan
  • Flashlight
  • Lightbulbs
  • Luggage tags
  • Musical instruments
  • Pepper spray (if legal in your state)
  • Playing cards
  • Religious materials
  • Safety pins
  • Safety whistle
  • Sleep mask
  • Sports equipment
  • Suitcase
  • Tool kit
  • Travel bags/travel organizer for toiletries
  • Umbrella
  • Vacuum
  • Weekend bag
  • Yoga mat

Click here to download a printable version of this list!

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About The Author

Michelle was the Senior Editor of Her Campus. She is passionate about producing high-quality, entertaining and informative content for readers. Before joining the staff full-time, she was an editorial intern, the Life Editor and a contributing writer for HC, during which time she wrote the most-read article in HC history. Before joining the HC team, Michelle interned for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. A native of North Carolina, Michelle graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013 with a B.A. in journalism and French and a minor in music. In her spare time, she likes to run (a lot), buy way too many magazines, obsessively follow UNC basketball and explore new places. You can follow her on Twitter: @mclewis3