College Move-In, Day-Of Essentials

Prepare For A Successful Move-In Day!

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College move-in day… a day that can bring a multitude of emotions for both students and parents… excitement, nervousness, uncertainty, hope, and so many more. As a parent, the emotions that come with dropping your kids off at college is an entirely different blog post (or podcast) of its own. For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll be sticking to the “fun part” of it… moving into a dorm or apartment! 

Preparation is the key to a successful move-in day. In the months leading up to the big day, my daughter and her roomie planned the room decor down to a tee. Matching headboards, bed skirts, and pillows, etc from Room 422. Though extensively prepared for the finished look of the room, Kennedy was less concerned with the nitty gritty of move-in day (shocking, I know 😂). After extensive research on my end, we arrived for move-in day as prepared as we possibly could be. There were many items we brought that came in handy, as well as items we regretted not bringing along. When preparing your move-in day checklist, make sure to consult my below list of day-of essentials!

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Tools/ Tool Kit

I highly recommend purchasing a small tool kit. This is a purchase that definitely comes in handy on move-in day, but is also useful throughout the school year (you never know when your student may need tools). Tool kits are a must-have when it comes to hanging art, assembling storage, etc.  If your student plans to loft/unloft their bed, make sure to also bring a hammer or rubber mallet

Other tools to include: zip ties, scissors, duct tape, small nails, electric screwdriver

Door Stopper

A door stopper is  MUST! With so many people and boxes crammed into one (usually tiny) room at once, there’s often some overflow into the hallways. Having to fight with the door is the last thing you want to deal with. It’s also certain to get pretty hot in the dorm rooms, so a door stopper allows much-needed airflow into the room. All of that to say… just trust me and bring a door stopper. 

Cleaning Supplies

Dorms should typically be cleaned by the university prior to move-in day. However, I would highly recommend having a few basic cleaning products to wipe down surfaces prior to unpacking. Bring something that you can organize and store the products in before you leave… your student is (hopefully) going to reach for the cleaning supplies at some point! This Dorm Room Multipurpose Cleaning Kit is a great place to start! 

Basic products I recommend: Clorox Wipes & All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

Mini Vacuum

The mini vacuum is a cleaning product that deserves its own separate discussion. Extremely helpful for college move-in day cleaning as well as the rest of the school year. My daughter swears her mini vacuum was the most utilized item in their room, especially given how quickly dust builds up in dorm rooms. Kennedy and her roomie became known as the girls with the mini hand vacuum… so girls throughout their hall frequently asked to borrow it throughout the year.

Great options at different price points: Shark Cord-Free Handheld Vacuum (under $150),  Black+Decker AdvancedClean+ Cordless Hand Vacuum (under $100), BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Hand Vacuum (under $80), Dirt Devil Express Lithium Cordless Hand Vacuum (under $40).

Rolling Cart

If your child is anything like mine, college move-in day will consist of LOTS of items to unload and multiple trips back-and-forth to the car. I recommend bringing a rolling cart to maximize your trips to the car and help transport belongings of any size. This rolling cart significantly cut down on the number of trips we had to make to the car. Don’t forget to bring bungee cords to secure larger loads/items to the cart.


While there are plenty of additional items that should be in your students’ dorm room for move-in day and thereafter, I’ll keep the remainder of the list short! 

  • Storage Bins: Great way to transport and store clothing and other personal goods.
  • Label Maker: We labeled drawers for easy access to clothing. 
  • Surge Protector & Extension Cord: Such easily forgotten necessities! 
  • Tape Measure: Emergency runs to The Container Store are almost a guarantee. A tape measure allows exact measurements when picking up last-minute items for the room.  
  • Zip Ties: Speaking of emergency trips, we had to take one for zip ties to attach a bed skirt to a lofted bed and other projects. They came in so handy. 
  • Command Strips & Small Nails: Make sure to check the university’s guidelines on hanging items, required nail size, etc. 
  • Trash Bags: Just trust me on this one… you’ll likely need LOTS of trash bags of varying sizes. 
  • Flashlight: Even in the world of smartphones with flashlights… an old-fashioned flashlight is still a must. 
  • First Aid Kit: Though (hopefully) not a move-in day staple, this is something your student should definitely keep on hand in their dorm room!
  • Clip Mini Fan: Highly recommend this small personal fan, can be attached to the bed or desk. 
  • Mini Fridge (if allowed): My daughter loved having her own fridge. 
  • Small Safe: Great way to store personal medications, documents, emergency cash, jewelry, etc. 


The process of planning and shopping for dorm room decor is an entirely separate blog post. However, for many students this is the exciting part of college move-in! The beauty of the items we purchased for Kennedy’s freshman dorm is that we were able to repurpose them year after year. Many are still used in her apartment…  6 years later! Some great online shops that Kennedy has used over the years are Dormify and Room 422

I hope you found these move-in day essentials helpful! Any questions? Drop a comment below and I’ll try to help in any way I can!

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