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11 College Move-in Essentials to Make Moving Day a Breeze

College move-in day can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! These 11 college move-in essentials, can help your day go smoothly while getting settled into a new dorm or apartment.

Getting ready for college move-in can feel pretty overwhelming.

We should know since we’ve moved six kids into college between our two families!

Multiple times.

Over the past 8 years, we’ve learned so much, and we’ve shared all our tips for college move-in day: from how to load the van, what to bring, what to unload first, and even tips for saying goodbye.

Open hatch of a minivan loaded with everything needed for college move in day

Over the years we’ve learned there are a few tools and supplies that make a huge difference when the day arrives to move into a dorm or even an apartment.

To make it easy for you, we’re sharing everything we bring, every time, to make college move-in go smoothly.

Our 11 college move-in essentials.

If you’re looking for what to pack for college, we’ve got you covered for that too! Scroll down toward the end of this post to get links to all those articles.

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What are the Best Ways to Transport Your Things Into a Dorm?

Hand truck with tubs held in place with bungee cords for move-in day.

It all starts with how you load things up!

A lot of families swear by the zippered IKEA storage bags to transport everything from clothing to bedding.

They’re definitely an affordable option and they’re currently on sale for just $31 for a pack of four!

Our families both preferred using plastic storage tubs because they worked great for neatly storing things in the dorm, and they stack on the shelves in our garage when the kids are home during summer.

There’s no right or wrong answer to this one, just choose something to help you contain all the stuff so you can minimize your trips from the vehicle to the dorm room.

We loved having a hand truck or convertible dolly because the carts at large universities can be hard to find on move-in day!

Bungee cords with hooks have also been a lifesaver when we moved our kids into college.

You can use them to keep drawer units closed, to secure tubs to the hand truck, and they’re super handy to attach things to bunk beds inside the dorm rooms.

Unexpected Things That Made Move-in Day Easier

Girl placing a door stop in a dorm room door.

Sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impact, and these door stoppers are one of them!

When you’re carrying multiple loads up from the car, sometimes different people in the group move at a different pace.

Or there’s not enough room for everyone in the elevator.

Or someone needs to take a bathroom break.

If people carrying boxes are separated from the one person with the key, then they’re stuck waiting in the hall, unless you’ve got a door stopper to prop open the door!

Also, since many schools now have multiple staggered move-in days, the dorms aren’t nearly as crowded, and often one roommate arrives a day or more before the other(s).

Leaving the dorm room door open with a door stopper is like an invitation for people to pop their heads in and say “hi!” and a great way to start meeting new friends.

Floor fan and box fan in a dorm room.

Move-in days are notoriously hot, so bringing a fan (or two) will make the entire day much more comfortable!

This tall oscillating fan is so effective and it doesn’t take up much space which is great in small dorm rooms.

Even air conditioned dorms get stuffy during the summer, and every room we’ve moved our students into felt warmer than usual on move-in day.

Probably because we were all so sweaty…

So bring a fan and get it up to the room and plugged in on the first trip. You’ll be so glad you did!

What Are Some Useful Tools for Moving Into a Dorm?

Girl carrying a bucket filled with tools for college move-in day.

Our kids all got small tool kits for their dorm rooms which came in handy during move-in day.

Especially the tape measure for figuring out how much room was available for additional storage we’d run out to pick up if needed!

However, there were a few other tools that we brought from home that didn’t need to stay at college.

Man using a rubber mallet to move a bed frame in a college dorm.

This rubber mallet was so helpful for adjusting the heights of the bed frames.

Every school is different, but many dorms have bed frames that allow each student to choose how high their bed is.

If space is really limited, lofting the bed so that it’s like an upper bunk bed can provide extra living space. Sometimes it’s necessary to loft it to fit the dresser and/or desk in the room. AnnMarie’s middle son had an exceptionally small dorm room if you want to see how to make that work!

But if your student doesn’t want the bed so high you may need to adjust it.

The mattress support is often difficult to move, and a rubber mallet is the best way we’ve found to do it because it doesn’t slip or require precise placement the way a regular hammer does.

Girl cleaning a hanging mirror in a dorm room.

You’ll also want to bring some cleaning supplies, including a broom with a dustpan.

More and more dorms have done away with carpeting of any kind, so having a broom really helps with keeping the floors clean(ish).

If you’ve brought an area rug, a stick vacuum is handy too, but coordinate with your roommate because you only need one! Many dorms also have a hall vacuum you can check out from the RA, so be sure to find that out before buying a vacuum.

A basic cleaning supply kit plus a container of disinfecting wipes are all you should need for move-in day. Then leave the kit behind for your student.

Hopefully, it will get used… LOL

How Can I Hang Things in a Dorm Room?

Wire grids displaying photos hung on a dorm wall with command hooks.

We both used a variety of Command Hooks in our kids’ dorm rooms.

They can be used for everything from hanging wall decor to towels.

Be sure to bring rubbing alcohol or these alcohol prep pads to make sure they adhere to the wall.

Some painted cement block walls are tricky and the hooks won’t hold even after properly cleaning the wall. We’ve heard from teacher friends that hot glue guns will do the trick if you run into that situation!

Woman showing how a zip tie can attach a bed skirt in a dorm room.

Something else that can be really handy for hanging things is zip ties.

We love this package of assorted zip ties because it includes both black and clear ties.

We’ve used zip ties for everything from attaching a bed skirt on a lofted bed, securing a headboard to a bed frame, to attaching foam pipe insulation to the underside of a lofted bed to protect heads when their desks are positioned underneath.

What to Pack for a College Dorm or Apartment

As you prepare for move-in day, you may still be shopping for what your student needs to furnish their home away from home.

We may have over-bought for our first kids, but now we know which things they’ll actually use!

We’ve put together a variety of lists and even have some free printables to help you out.

Resources and Where to Buy Things

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Collage of products that are essentials for college move-in day.

Sources: Broom and Dustpan | Door Stoppers | Rubber Mallet | Plastic Storage Tubs | Convertible Hand Truck Dolly | IKEA Storage Bags | Tower Floor Fan | Assorted Command Hooks | Alcohol Wipes | Assorted Bungee Cords | Assorted Zip Ties | Small Tool Kit | Cleaning Supplies

We know that preparing for college move-in day can feel a little overwhelming. In fact, we devoured information as we prepared for this time in all our students’ lives the same way that we did when we were pregnant!

Sometimes just knowing what to expect can help ease our minds as parents.

As you get ready for this next big step, remember, you’ve been preparing them for this their whole lives. If it helps at all, we found the anticipation of move-in day was almost worst than the actual thing because it hangs over your head for months.

You’ve got this and we send you a big mom hug!

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment.

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