Starter List: 61 Items to Consider To Your Dorm

by Susan Evans

Apartment/Dorm Starter List:

If you’re heading to college for the first time or getting ready to live on your own, there’s a lot to bring or buy.

Here’s the “Essentials” list (not in any particular order) from freshmen, first-time apartment dwellers and parents who’ve done this before.

It’s geared for apartments – so you’ll take away some of these if you’re living in the dorms….

Download our Checklist-Dorm Room-Apartment checklist to make it easier. (Free Acrobat reader here.)


  1. Dish cloths and towels
  2. Towels and wash cloths
  3. Sheets, mattress pad and pillowcases

WHN Reader TIP – Don’t Short-Sheet! Verify the size and length of the mattress. Some dorms have extra-long mattresses, requiring longer sheets and mattress pads.

Kitchen Supplies

  1. Baking pans
  2. Blender
  3. Bottle opener
  4. Canister set
  5. Can opener
  6. Coffee maker
  7. Colander
  8. Cooking and measuring utensils
  9. Cutlery
  10. Cutting board
  11. Dishes, plates, bowls, cups, silverware
  12. Dish drying rack
  13. Gallon pitcher
  14. Hand mixer
  15. Microwave
  16. Toaster oven
  17. Mixing bowls
  18. Oven mitts/pot holders
  19. Four pots and pans

Household Items

  1. All-purpose and special-purpose cleaner
  2. Laundry detergent, stain spray, nonchlorine bleach
  3. Dish soap, sponges
  4. Hanging laundry bag or hamper
  5. Over-the-door towel bar
  6. Paper products such as tissues, paper towel and toilet paper
  7. Shower caddy
  8. Shower curtain
  9. Toiletries carry-all
  10. Vacuum
  11. Wastebasket
  12. A few cleaning rags (for dusting … yeah…right…)

Home Office/Study Items

  1. Laptop
  2. Printer and paper
  3. Cross-cut shredder
  4. Folders
  5. Office items: pens, pencils, scissors, stapler, paper clips
  6. Paper (notebook and printer paper)
  7. Tape (adhesive, masking and packing)
  8. Stamps and envelopes (No. 10, 9×12 yellow envelopes)

First Aid

  1. Antiseptic and anti-itch lotion
  2. Bandages and gauze pads
  3. Cold remedies
  4. Cough drops
  5. Elastic bandage
  6. Medications and prescriptions for refills
  7. Pain reliever
  8. Thermometer
  9. Tweezers


  1. Cell phone with headset or earbuds
  2. Alarm clock
  3. All-purpose fire extinguisher (just a little one …)
  4. Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
  5. Desk/floor lamps
  6. Dry-erase board and markers
  7. Extension cords and power surge protectors
  8. Fan
  9. Flashlight and supply of batteries
  10. Floor/throw cushions
  11. Full-length mirror
  12. Light bulbs
  13. Rugs
  14. Sofa/chairs/beanbags
  15. Stepstool/ladder (Download the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Ladder Safety App for advice on extension and step ladder safety – available for both iOS and Android devices.)
  16. iPod speakers
  17. Storage bins/shelves
  18. Toolbox (hammer, screwdriver, level, etc.)
  19. TV
  20. Photos of family and pets

WHN Expert Tip – Get a Fire Extinguisher: In this video, Edina, MN Fire Marshall Tom Jenson explains the features and uses of four different types of fire extinguishers to help you decide what extinguisher is right for you. The next video shows how to use it.

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Photo Credit: Marcus Loke

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