Tips for College Dorm Move-in Day

Tips for College Dorm Move-in Day

Your baby is flying the coop and you want move-in day to go smoothly, but there are so many things to plan for, and so many things to buy! Where to start?

Here are some tips that I have compiled from MANY smart parents who have gone through the dorm room move-in process before me.  Love these helpful tips!

Make a List 
It’s going to be a LONG list, but it’s easier to have everything written out on a piece of paper and check it off vs. trying to remember everything. In addition to clothing, toiletries, school supplies, and dorm bedding, did you remember extra surge protection power supplies? Extra power cords? Cough drops? Scissors? Thankfully due to Amazon, Target & Walmart, whatever your kid forgets, they’ll be able to get shipped directly to their dorm in a timely manner.


Dorm mattresses aren’t great and they’re often old. Most dorm beds are either Twin or Twin XL. Double-check your needed size and buy a Zippered mattress cover that goes ALL the way around it. Starting with a base layer of having the entire mattress encased really helps keep whatever WAS on it, completely sealed up and allergen-free. Then build from there with an egg crate or memory foam topper, then ANOTHER allergy barrier such as a deep mattress cover.

When your student washes sheets, they only have to go down to that layer. PRO TIP: Don’t wait until move in to open the mattress topper unless space is an absolute premium. They not only take time to ‘fluff up’, but they outgas and are somewhat stinky for the first few days. We opened ours in the hotel room to let it air out before moving it to the dorm room.

If your student is moving into an off-campus apartment, consider getting them a Full-size bed frame vs a Twin. Your student will appreciate the extra space, and it’s not a huge upgrade on the size that will take up valuable room size.


Cleaning Supplies
Most dorm rooms are not sparkly clean upon move-in. You’ll find layers of dust and dirt, so a Swiffer Wet Jet is a good start. A huge container of Lysol wipes will also make quick work of other surfaces.  Bring a TRASH bag for move-in day! A BIG trash bag. You’ll be surprised what you haul out of there (packaging, used wipes and cleaning pads, etc.). Do NOT go crazy with buying lots of sprays and cleansers. I promise you they will go unused (sadly).

Do get your student laundry soap and a small spray bottle of stain remover. Most dorms accept an electronic card for laundry however some are still old school and ONLY take quarters! We have been saving quarters all summer for just this purpose!

Medicine kit Even without Covid in the mix, having a digital thermometer is a great tool to help diagnose a possible fever. Get a small tub with a lid and add: pain relief, Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, thermometer, blister relief (mole skin from scout days), cold medicine, allergy meds, EpiPen (if prescribed one), cough drops, and any other special supplements/vitamins or healthy aids.


Over the Door Shoe Rack with Pockets
clear over-the-door vinyl shoe rack with pockets is EXCELLENT for all of those random things from stain remover to batteries etc.  The clear pockets make everything visible and easy to get to.

Bed Risers
Elevating a dorm bed (if not lofting) is a great way to create more storage. Dorm Bed risers are available in the summer at local stores and Amazon. Some even have power and USB plugs built into them! Your student will also be able to hide a set of drawers, roller carts or other storage containers with the extra space. If you don’t like LOOKING at the stored items, consider getting a long bed skirt.


Smell Control
A couple of air fresheners (those solid ones are nice for closets) and the Damp Rid bags that hang and collect water are great for preventing mold growth – think sweaty workout wear and shoes.

UPDATE: 7/22 

This year we will be adding a Shoe Dryer . My daughter goes to school in a rainy damp environment (Virginia). She said it was very hard to keep her shoes dry and tennis shoes inevitably got stinky. Popping each shoe on a dryer will help keep shoes fresh, comfy and reduce the stink!  Yes, it takes up valuable room, but it’s worth it!

Boujee Extras 
Does the room come with Air Conditioning? If not, can you add a room unit?  Make sure to get a SMALL AC unit as there is NOT a lot of extra space!


Air filtration systems are small, quiet, and really nice for reducing allergens and smells! This is the one we got for our daughter & she loves it because it’s also a source of ‘white noise’ which is great for drowning out other noise in the hall. It also helps reduce the ‘dorm funk’ which she smells in other rooms!


Water filter – Most dorms do not have filtered water (sadly). You can get a basic filter one, or an electronic one that cleans the water and makes supplemented chilled vitamin drinks!

Stick Vacuum – Space is at a premium, but having a small space efficient stick vacuum will help reduce the dirt and dust that tracks in each day.

Fridge/Micro or Fridge/Freezer Combos? Most dorms will allow you to RENT a Fridge combo. After lots of debate, the consensus for the year was that a Fridge/Freezer combo was better to have in a dorm room as cooking (and smells) are best left to the little kitchen that is typically within a dorm hall.

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