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30 Things You Should Never Keep in Your Dorm Room

Rule number one: Don't bring anything you can't risk losing.

Finally: after years of living with your parents, you finally get a space all your own—or at least one that you share with a (hopefully laid back) roommate. Though you may want to fully immerse yourself in this newfound freedom, and bring an entire caravan's worth of must-have inventory, there are a few items that should be instantly cut from your list.

Whether it's redundant (a mattress), misguided (an enormous flatscreen), or just downright illegal (check your local laws), herein, you'll find the ultimate dorm room checklist—of what not to bring into your tiny new home. And if you need to know what you should bring, check out the 30 Things You Should Always Keep in Your Dorm Room. 

A television

woman watching tv dorm room

Yes, you should be studying more and watching less tube. But let's also be practical: Why carry a bulky television all the way from a packed car to a cramped dorm room when you can just stream any movie or television show your heart desires from a laptop or tablet? Let's be smart about this. And for more things to avoid at college, check out the 20 Most Ridiculous College Courses You Won't Believe Are Real .

Designer or custom carpet

Nice Carpet College Dorm Room

Just because you're finally moving into your own space doesn't mean that you need to channel your inner Nate Berkus. After all, it's a dorm room, and things will get messy. Besides, unless you're enrolling in a military school, the school-provided carpet will work fine, and your expensive rug will only be redundant.

Cute thumb drives

Cute Thumb Drive Dorm Room

Newsflash: this isn't 2015—your adorable thumb drives that you were required to have in high school no longer applies in college, especially since you can just upload everything into cloud storage.

Plus, your furry thumb drive is only a representation of a past goofiness that you'd rather leave behind in college. And for more college humor, check out these 20 Hilarious Tweets Every College Student Can Relate To.

Glass coffee table

Glass Coffee Table Dorm Room

Anything made out of glass (and that costs more than your Starbucks paycheck) is just begging to be broken by your clumsy college affairs. Plus, when you really think it over, do you actually need a glass coffee table in a dorm room? If you're anything like us, you're looking at 327 stubbed toes in a 180-day school year. (And if you insist upon owning a coffee table, steer clear of anything breakable.)

Expensive jewelry

Jewelry, secondhand, secondhand jewelry dorm room

As a rule of thumb, any living space that you're required to share should not house anything with great value. Whether it's a family heirloom or just an expensive sweet-16 gift, it's probably unwise to leave it out in the open for others to freely take as they please.

We suspect that your grandfather wouldn't love the idea of a vintage Vacheron that he kept safe for 50 years being stolen by a random philosophy student from down the hall. And for more ways to rock your college years, check out these 20 Secrets Your College Professor Won't Tell You.

Surround sound stereo system

Big Stereo System Dorm Room

Not only will your RA pitch a fit to rival the emitted sound, but a system like this doesn't come cheap, and takes up quite a bit of precious space. Don't be that guy who blares Pink Floyd until 4:00 a.m.—it won't make you any cooler, we promise. Instead, perhaps invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones, like these from Bose, or a small Bluetooth speaker, like this one from Sony, that will retain the same noise quality with much less noise pollution.

More than six pairs of shoes (for a woman)

Too Many Shoes Woman Dorm Room

When you're packing for college, you really only need to grab the essentials—and the essentials don't include 16 pairs of stilettos. You aren't moving into the dorm for life; you'll eventually have access to all the other shoes that you neglected to bring along. So, just grab what you need: a pair of tennis shoes, boots, heels, flip flops (for the shower), sneakers, and flats. Anything else is excessive and will only up more space than necessary.

More than five pairs of shoes (for a man)

men's shoes dorm room

Fellas, too: Stick to the essentials. That's a pair of daily sneakers, dress shoes (for internships and interviews), boots (for inclement weather), gym shoes (stay in shape), and flip-flops (you'll want a pair for the communal shower).

Tiffany lamp

tiffany lamp dorm room

Similar to the aforementioned glass coffee table, bringing anything fragile and fancy into your dorm room is not a wise idea. Plus, something as intricately detailed as a Tiffany lamp won't exactly go with your shabby chic dorm room decorating scheme.

Antique typewriter

Typewriter Dorm Room

There's always that one J.D. Salinger wannabe who lugs their enormous midcentury typewriter into the dorm room—and then proceeds to use it precisely zero times. If you actually use a typewriter to get most of your assignments done, sure, go for it. Otherwise, use a laptop or desktop computer like the rest of your class and stop taking up precious space in your tiny room.


Wine Bottle in Dorm Room

If an RA discovers that you've been hiding bottles of alcohol in your room, you can get fined, on a first offense, and kicked out, on subsequent ones. The only exception: If you're 21 or older, you might be able to keep one 750ml (that's a normal-sized bottle) of alcohol at any given time in your room. Check with your RA before doing so, though.

Fancy dishes

Husband doing dishes

Newsflash: there is absolutely no need to lug your great-grandmother's china dishes into your new humble abode. First of all, it is likely that you won't use them much at all, and secondly, your less-dextrous friends are all but certain to break such precious heirlooms. Save these hand-me-downs for your first (or even second) apartment instead.


A pet

Girl with Dog in Dorm Room

While your golden retriever Charlie has been by your side since you were young, those days will unfortunately have to come to a brief end. Unless you require a service animal, your furry (or, um, scaly) friends will only prove to be messy and incredibly distracting. Also, many dorm rooms prohibit such pets.

Photo albums and yearbooks

Photo book dorm room

Bringing a few pictures along to hang up in your room should be fine, but leave the other memories at home, as they tend to only make your space appear more cluttered. And think about it: do you really want your cool new college friends finding out about your brief stint in the mathletes? (Plus, your parents are going to want to keep those photo albums while you're gone—they're going to miss you.)

Instruments you won't play

Musical Instruments in Corner Dorm Room

Unless you plan to strum "Wonderwall" at every party (pro tip: don't be that guy), feel free to bring your favorite six-string to your college dorm—it can provide a nice creative outlet during a stressful time. However, bringing your entire collection of musical instruments is unwise, considering that your space is already incredibly cramped, making it easier for your guests to bump into (and possibly harm) said instruments. Trust us—there is no available room for your keyboard or trombone.

Anything illegal

Marijuana leaves, which science says could boost your sex drive

C'mon—anything that you legally cannot possess in a normal home situation would obviously not fly in your dorm room. Don't bring your "herbal remedies" on campus, plain and simple.

Bath bombs

Bath Bombs Dorm Room

First of all, it's important to point out that many college dorms don't even come equipped with bathtubs to use your precious bath bombs. Secondly, hauling in your 72-step beauty routine (and products) won't win any points with your new roommate, who would rather not smell the 30 different face lotions or deal with the lack of space created by hosting your 45 nail polishes. Just pick a few essential items and stock up later when you have your own apartment or home.

25 binders

Colorful Binders Dorm Room

Unlike high school, your professor isn't here to baby you—there will be no recommended school supply list, and more often than not, you'll be doing everything from your laptop. Lucky for you, there will be no need to create a binder for each class—unless you're that kid. Just bring a few spiral notebooks and some writing utensils and you'll be fine.

A real wall clock

Wall Clock Dorm Room

Given that you can tell time more quickly and accurately by countless other means—your phone, laptop, tablet, or common area's microwave, just for starters—there's no need to invest either cash or wall space on one of these.

Priceless paintings

Painting on Wall Dorm Room

Hanging original art in your room is pretty daring, considering that most of your college peers will just assume that it's an Urban Outfitters reprint and abuse it as such. Leave the valuable art at home with your parents who probably will appreciate more than you do (you know, unless you're an art major).

Stuffed animals

Stuffed animal Dorm Room

Yes, Mr. Buttons has been with you since kindergarten. But you're an adult now and should probably stop cuddling stuffed animals. To be clear, we're not telling your to toss Mr. Buttons in the nearest bin. Feel free to keep him—far away, in your childhood bedroom back home.

Old jerseys and trophies

Sports Trophies

Again, moving items from your past into the college dorm of your future self will only confuse your purpose—and annoy your roommate and provide your friends with new material to make fun of you with. Face it: no one cares that your 8th-grade select soccer team made it to county quarterfinals, or that your senior year motto was "keeping it real." Your new friends just want to know the college version of you.


vacuuming carpet dorm room

Are you even going to use the fancy Dyson vacuum your great aunt gifted you for graduation? Doubtful. This is just one extra thing that takes up too much space.

Cocktail attire

Tux Dorm Room

Unless you're attending black-tie events more than once a semester (in which case: good for you), then there's no need to bring your old prom dress or tex along. It will only take up space and attract dust in the back of your closet.

Expensive bedding

Cashmere Blanket Dorm Room

There's no need to invest in cashmere throws and satin sheets for a well-broken-in twin XL mattress. Consider the fact that you'll likely eat many a meal near or even on your bed, and this is a doubly stupid move. Save the fancy bedding for when you have your own place.


Easel Dorm Room

Whether you're an architecture major, a fine art minor, or just enjoy having an easel or drafting board around for personal use, it's a good bet your college has studios available for your use.

Toy car collection

Toy Car Collection Dorm Room

It doesn't matter what big or small seemingly useless items you choose to collect, your roommate will greatly appreciate not having to clear space to make way for your toy car collection (or baseball card compendium, or Warhammer 40k armada, or… you get the point). Plus, like we mentioned previously, it's never a good idea to store valuables in a public space such as a dorm room.

King-sized mattress

King Size Mattress Dorm Room

If you've been living it up in a California king at home, you're in for a rude awakening. Dorms these days provide mattresses for you—and they're all of the twin XL (five inches longer than a regular 75-inch-long twin) variety.

Overstuffed leather couch

Leather couch dorm room

Where exactly do you intend to squeeze in this addition? This bulky and excessively nice couch is only going to seem entirely out of place in a college dorm room where furniture should be stain-resistant and functional. And for more ways to make the most of your tiny space, check out these 30 Home Design Tricks That Will Make Any Room Look So Much Bigger.

Your mom

Mom and teen daughter dorm room

Even if your mom (or dad) had a hard time sending you off to college, that doesn't reserve them the right to come crash in your dorm room whenever they want. Not only does it make you seem immature, it can also annoy your roommates and floor-mates who have to constantly deal with an extra person taking up space. Sure, mom can visit—but she can find another place to crash.

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Ashley Moor
Ashley hails from Dayton, Ohio, and has more than six years of experience in print and digital media. Read more
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