20 Things NOT To Bring To College (How To Avoid Overpacking)

Moving into a dorm room soon? Avoid overpacking by following this list of 20 things NOT to bring to college your freshman year.

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Moving into college for the first time is such a big and exciting time in your life. You’re probably doing all kinds of dorm shopping and reading up on what you need to bring for college.

There are so many lists of dorm essentials online, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It can be easy to think that you need to buy a ton of stuff and bring everything you own to college.

Not only will that make your dorm room cluttered, but it will also cause you to waste a ton of money on things you don’t need!

After living in a college dorm and figuring out exactly what I did and didn’t need, I’m here to tell you that there’s a lot of stuff I wish I hadn’t brought!

That’s why I put together this list of things NOT to bring to college freshman year. I’ll also give you my top tips for how to avoid overpacking for college.

What Not To Bring To College

1. Out-Of-Season Clothing

Unless you’re not planning on going home for any breaks, you don’t need to bring clothes for every single season right away.

Dorm closets are small and you definitely won’t have room for your entire wardrobe.

I recommend only bringing clothes for early fall weather when you first move in. When you go home for Thanksgiving break you can grab your heavy winter coats, boots, and accessories.

Then, at spring break you can switch out all of your winter clothes for spring/summer attire. This way you’re not cluttering your dorm closet up with clothes you won’t even be wearing.

2. Too Many T-shirts

One mistake a lot of freshmen make is packing a ton of T-shirts for college. Colleges hand out SO many free T-shirts throughout the year, especially during the first few weeks of your freshman year.

You should also avoid bringing a bunch of T-shirts from your high school sports and spirit wear.

While you may be proud of your high school accomplishments, college is a time to reinvent yourself and start over. To be brutally honest, no one in college will care that you played varsity golf in high school.

3. Large Luggage

One of the most important things NOT to bring to college is a bunch of large luggage pieces. You don’t want your entire closet taken up by giant suitcases.

If you plan on transporting your stuff in suitcases on move-in day, make sure you can send them back with your parents once you’re all moved in. Just make sure they remember to bring them back when you move out!

The best solution would be packing your things up in these heavy duty storage bags that can be folded up and stored under your bed during the semester.

That way, you can use them to pack up your things for breaks and at end of the year when you move out.

4. Iron and Ironing Board

One thing you definitely do NOT need to pack for college is an ironing board. Honestly, most of the time you’ll be wearing casual clothes that don’t need any ironing.

On the rare occasion that you need to be dressed up, you could have a mini steamer or some wrinkle release spray handy.

My vote would be to skip all of the appliances and just keep a bottle of wrinkle release spray in with your dorm cleaning supplies. This stuff is straight up magic!

You spray it on your clothes, tug down on them a bit, and the wrinkles magically disappear.

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5. Too Many Pairs Of Shoes

I know this one can be really hard to scale back on. But trust me, you do NOT need 35 pairs of shoes in college.

Shoes are such a bulky item that are really hard to find a place for in a dorm. I recommend only packing the pairs of shoes that you wear all the time.

If you’re not sure where to store your shoes in your dorm, I recommend either storing them in crates in your closet, using a hanging shoe organizer, or getting under bed shoe storage.

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6. Valuable Items

Unfortunately, dorm theft is more common than you may think. That’s why it’s a good idea to leave your valuable items at home when you’re in college.

Don’t pack any heirloom gold jewelry or ultra expensive designer bags. You’ll just become a magnet for dorm theft.

For the valuable items that you do need in college (laptop, phone, etc.), I recommend locking them up in a safe or lock box while you’re out of your room.

I have a full post about the best locking safes for college dorm rooms, but the most popular one is the Vaultz Locking Storage Chest.

It’s large enough to fit a laptop and it includes a security cable so you can fasten it to your bed or desk.

7. Pots and Pans

Let’s be real here, no matter how much you cook at home you’re NOT going to be cooking up a bunch of meals in your dorm’s communal kitchen. I love to cook and I used the communal kitchen once during my time in the dorms.

You definitely don’t need to bring a bunch of pots and pans to your dorm room. They’ll just take up space and never get used.

8. Real Dishes

One thing you definitely do NOT need in college is a set of real dishes. They’re heavy, easy to break, and totally unnecessary for dorm life.

You’ll likely be eating most of your meals in the dining hall anyways.

You really only need a few lightweight plates, bowls, and utensils. These will come in handy if you need to whip up a bowl of cereal or ramen in between classes.

[RELATED: 20 Dorm Kitchen Essentials You’ll Actually Use In Your College Dorm]

9. Appliances

Most college students bring way too many appliances when they move in to college. You really only need a mini fridge, microwave, and a coffee maker.

Before you buy anything, make sure you check with your residence hall to see what they provide. Some dorms already come equipped with mini fridges and microwaves.

You should also coordinate with your roommate so that you don’t bring duplicates of things. I have a full post going over 19 items that you can share with your college roommate.

10. Full Sized Vacuum Cleaner

One thing you definitely do not need in college is a full sized vacuum cleaner. They’re expensive, bulky, and unnecessary for such a small space.

However, I do recommend getting a compact stick vacuum that you can tuck into the back of your closet.

This stick vacuum cleaner is super affordable and it’s the perfect size for dorm rooms. I had this exact vacuum in my college dorm and I’m so glad I brought it!

The vacuum at the front desk was ancient and so heavy, so a lot of people on my floor just ended up borrowing mine!

11. Extra Bedding

A lot of people will tell you to pack two sets of bedding for college. The rationale is that you can put on your second set of bedding while you wash your first set.

To be honest though, I think that’s totally unnecessary.

Everyone I knew in college would wash and dry their bedding on the same day. It’s pretty gross to leave it in the washing machine overnight anyways.

The only thing I would pack more than one of is pillowcases, especially if you’re prone to acne. Changing up your pillowcase every couple of nights can help keep your skin clean and acne-free.

12. Printer

One thing that you absolutely do not need for your dorm room is a printer. Printers are bulky and take up a ton of room on your desk.

Plus, all colleges have printing services that you can use! At my school, there were communal printers in the library, student union, and each dorm building.

Expect to pay anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars each time you print, depending on how many pages you need to print out. But that’s still way cheaper than the cost of a printer and ink throughout the year!

13. Bed Risers

Bed risers are totally unnecessary for most college freshmen. They only add a couple of inches to your bed height, and 99% of dorms provide you with bed lofting kits anyways.

You can probably just save yourself some money and cross the bed risers off of your college packing list.

However, if you’re not lofting your bed and still want to add a few inches of storage space, make sure to get bed risers with built in outlets.

We love multi-purpose dorm items over here on My College Savvy!

14. Candles

Unfortunately, most colleges have candles on the prohibited item lists. It’s just too much of a fire hazard to have students burning candles in their dorm rooms.

If you’re a scented candle addict, there are other ways you can get your fix! Get an essential oil diffuser and some scented oils, a wax warmer, or some good room spray.

If you’re looking for the best alternatives, I have a full post on easy ways to make your dorm room smell good without candles.

15. Decorative Pillows

A few decorative pillows are okay, but you definitely do not need to fill your entire bed with cute throw pillows.

Think about it – you’re just going to have to throw them on the floor when you go to sleep every night anyways.

I recommend bringing a maximum of two throw pillows for your bed and two for your futon if you have one. That’s enough to make your room look cute without adding too much clutter.

16. Too Many Towels

One mistake I see a lot of freshmen make is bringing too many towels to college. Towels take up a lot of storage space and are usually pretty bulky to store in your closet.

You’ll probably do your laundry once a week or every other week. Unless you change your towel every single day (which is really unnecessary), you can probably get by with two sets of towels.

17. All Of Your Books

Sorry to all of the book lovers out there – you shouldn’t bring your entire library of books with you to college!

Books take up a ton of room, and it’s unlikely you’ll have a dedicated bookshelf in your room.

If you’re an avid book reader, I recommend investing in a Kindle for college. You can store thousands of books on there at once and it takes up almost no room.

18. Desk Chair

Most residence halls don’t allow you to remove the provided desk chair from your room. That means you’ll be stuck with two chairs if you bring your own desk chair.

If you have back problems and absolutely NEED to have your own desk chair, just make sure that you have space in your dorm room to store the standard-issue desk chair that comes with the room.

19. Desktop Computer

If you have a laptop, there’s no real reason to bring your desktop computer. A laptop is way more handy for bringing around to your college classes.

Of course, if you don’t have a laptop, you can definitely bring your desktop computer for studying in your dorm room.

I didn’t have a laptop my freshman year so I brought an iPad around with me to class and studied on my desktop computer in my dorm room.

[RELATED: Should You Bring Your Desktop To College? (Everything To Consider)]

20. Anything Your Roommate Already Has

If you’re living with a roommate, make sure to check with them before move in day and decide who will bring what.

You definitely don’t need two TVs or multiple microwaves in your dorm room.

Sharing certain dorm items with your roommate can save you a ton of money and help you not overpack for college.

[RELATED: 19 Dorm Items To Share With Your Roommate in College]

What Should You Actually Bring To College?

Now that we’ve gone over what you should not bring to college, you may be wondering what you absolutely NEED to bring to your college dorm.

We’ve covered the absolute must-have dorm essentials in some of our other posts. Be sure to check them out to know exactly what to pack for college:

How To Avoid Overpacking For College

If you’ve never lived in a dorm before, you probably don’t really just how tiny of a space it is. The last thing you’ll want is a cluttered, overcrowded living space in college.

That’s why it’s SO important to have a plan for what to pack for college (and what not to pack) so that you can avoid packing a bunch of unnecessary items.

Here are some crucial ways to avoid overpacking for college:

  • Make a list: A list will help you figure out exactly what you should pack, and help you narrow down what you don’t need to bring.
  • Ask around: Check with friends and family members to see what they found useful to have with them in college. Even better if they went to the same college that you’re going to because they’ll know what’s allowed in those specific dorms!
  • Check the rules: All residence halls have a list of prohibited items that students are not allowed to have in their dorms. Some common prohibited items are candles, hot plates, space heaters, etc. Check this list before you start shopping.
  • See what your school provides: Before you do your college shopping, make sure to check out what items your dorm will provide for you. A lot of colleges will provide desks, chairs, bed lofting kits, and sometimes even mini fridges and microwaves.
  • Figure out what to share with your roommate: There’s no point in having two microwaves, multiple TVs, or more than one Brita filter. Talk with your roommate ahead of time about what items you can share in your room.

What To Pack Your Stuff In For College

Now that you know exactly what you should and shouldn’t pack for college, you need to decide what you’re going to be packing your stuff in!

We already discussed how it’s a bad idea to pack your dorm items up in large suitcases and luggage.

Not only will it be hard to find what you’re looking for on move in day, but bulky suitcases take up SO much room in dorm rooms.

So what should you pack your dorm stuff in? I recommend a mixture of different moving boxes and bags.

Large Tote Bags

Giant tote bags like these zippable totes are perfect for transporting things like clothes, shoes, and linens.

They hold SO much stuff, but they fold down to basically nothing so you can store them easily in your dorm room.

Clear Storage Bins

I liked using clear storage bins when moving in to college because it was easy to see exactly what was in each box.

The only issue with storage bins is where to put them after you move in.

You could either stack them and store them under your bed, or send them back with your parents if they’re helping you move in.

Cardboard Boxes

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Cardboard boxes are a great option because they can be broken down and recycled after you move in.

The only issue here is that you’ll have to go buy more boxes when it comes time to move out.

Collapsible Luggage

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I recommend packing up at least one or two pieces of collapsible luggage. This could be foldable rolling luggage like this one, or just a regular fabric duffel bag.

This is a great option because they fold down really small and can be stored in your closet or under your bed.

Plus, you can use them to pack for vacation or going home for breaks.

Printable College Packing List

If you’re not sure where to start with packing for college, this FREE printable college packing list will help you out!

dorm room packing list

Hopefully this post about what NOT to bring to college was helpful for you. Overpacking for college can be really tempting, but just wind up with a cluttered dorm and way more stuff than you know what to do with.

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