All summer, you’ve probably been making piles of stuff—or your college-bound kid has. You’ve read the list sent by the college and checked off items. You’ve hit the stores for sheets to fit that extra-long dorm bed, for a shower caddy, for storage bins. Your son or daughter has traded texts with their future roommate and decided on who’s bringing the TV or who’s buying/renting the mini fridge.
In a few weeks, you’ll pack all that stuff into a car and head to your student’s college. Then the mad scramble to unload it all will begin. And no matter how carefully you prepared for it, college move-in day will be stressful. Very stressful.
Space Makers Junk Removal has 19 tips, however, to make move-in day a lot easier. From things to check off your list before you leave home to things to do once you get there, our list will help you navigate move-in day with confidence.
1. WASH BRAND NEW LINENS BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME
Sheets, towels, and comforters straight out of the package are stiff and scratchy. And they don’t smell like home at all. Wash linens before you leave so your child’s first night in a strange place isn’t uncomfortable; plus, the sheets will smell a little bit like home.
2. REMOVE PACKAGING
Take items out of packaging before you leave home. That way, you won’t have to deal with the trash when you get there. Only large, bulky items like a mattress topper should remain in original packaging to keep it as compact as possible.
3. USE SEE-THRU PACKING OPTIONS
Instead of using cardboard boxes, choose packing options that are clear or see-thru so you can see exactly what’s inside when you arrive at your child’s dorm room. Plastic storage bins do double duty because your child can slide them under a bed for extra storage later. Or you can use Ziploc Flexible Totes or Ziploc Big Bags.
As you pack the bins or bags, make sure you pack similar items together. For example, put all bath items together in one bin; put all bedding in another. Organizing ahead of time makes unpacking so much easier.
4. PACK WITH CARRYING IN MIND
If your student’s room happens to be on any floor other than the first, you’re going to be climbing stairs—probably lots of them. Or waiting in a long line for the one elevator in the dorm. Either way, you’ll be carrying things like smaller totes, lamps, and bags. Make sure they aren’t so heavy your arms feel like they’re going to fall off.
Also, remember that handles are your friends, especially if you end up with cloth tote bags stuffed with last-minute things or items that you don’t want to put in a bin.
5. KEEP HANGING CLOTHES ON HANGERS
Save time by leaving as many clothes on hangers as possible. That way, you don’t have to take the time to get them out of boxes, put them on hangers, and place them in a closet when you get there.
You can put clothes still on hangers into tubs for transport, but they might get wrinkled. Instead, try using trash bags as covers. Simply slip groups of hanging clothes into trash bags; then cinch the bags up, tying the handles around the base of the hangers. Instant—and affordable—garment bag!
To easily transport the garment bags from the car to the dorm room, use a pole or make a pole out of a broom.
6. LABEL THINGS
You may have to unload your vehicle, then go park elsewhere, before you ferry items to your child’s room. You don’t want your child’s things getting mixed up with someone else’s stuff sitting on the sidewalk. Label everything with your student’s name, the dorm name, and the room number.
7. INVEST IN A HAND TRUCK AND BUNGEES
While colleges often provide carts, hand trucks, or dollies for students, there may not be enough to go around. To keep from having to wait on transport, bring your own. A lightweight, convertible hand truck will fold up to easily fit in your car. Plus, you can store it when you return home.
Don’t forget to bring something to secure items to a hand truck! Bungee cords in assorted lengths will come in handy.
8. SECURE LIDS AND DRAWERS WITH TAPE
Drawers have a way of sliding open and lids have a way of popping off in transit. Tape drawers and lids so contents won’t spill out when you unload the car.
9. ASSEMBLE A CLEANING KIT
Not all dorm rooms will have been cleaned prior to your arrival. Before you unpack anything, you’ll want to clean—and possibly disinfect—surfaces. Make sure you have paper towels, wipes, disinfectant spray, and dust cloths. You’ll want a way to clean the floor, too. A Swiffer Sweeper is ideal for sweeping and mopping surfaces, and your student can easily stow one for later uses. A small, lightweight vacuum might be handy, too.
10. ASSEMBLE A TOOL KIT
How are you going to assemble furniture or hang curtains if you don’t have tools on hand? Put together a tool kit so you’re ready for any surprises like that. A basic tool kit should include these items:
- Rubber mallet
- Screwdrivers (flat head and Phillips)
- Duct tape
You might also include these extras: a level, work gloves, duct tape, zip ties, and furniture sliders.
11. ASSEMBLE A SET-UP KIT
To help your student personalize his or her space with items like bulletin boards, dry-erase boards, and posters, you’ll need:
- Command strips (get various sizes and strengths)
- Stick-on hooks (be sure to include heavy-duty hooks that can handle towels, coats, bags, etc.)
- Alcohol wipes to prep walls for stick-on items
12. ASSEMBLE A FIRST-AID KIT
Put together a basic first-aid kit for move-in mishaps like scrapes and cuts. Make sure it’s a kit that you can leave behind for your student to use all year. Include items like
- Band-Aids in assorted sizes
- Self-adhesive elastic bandages
- Gauze pads
- Sterile wipes or hydrogen peroxide
- Hand sanitizer
- Antibiotic ointments like Neosporin
- Cold/cough medicine
- Eye drops
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Disposable gloves
- Face masks
- Digital thermometer
- Medical tape
- Ice packs
- Cotton balls
13. BRING DOORSTOPS
Doors won’t stay open by themselves, so toss in a doorstop or two to keep dorm room doors open as you come and go.
14. BRING A FAN
With all those open doors, air conditioning will flow right out. Keep cool by bringing a fan. Be sure you pack your vehicle so you can get to that fan first thing.
15. BRING TRASH BAGS
Moving is messy. Don’t forget to bring several large trash bags for packaging, used paper towels, etc.
16. DON’T FORGET TOILET PAPER
You can't depend on the college to furnish toilet paper in dorm bathrooms on move-in day. Bring a roll or two of your own, just in case.
17. PACK SNACKS AND WATER
Since most college move-ins occur during the hot months of August or September, you’re going to sweat. Bring a cooler for water and other cold drinks. And since moving in is likely to take hours, keep everyone’s energy up with snacks like nuts, fruit, peanut butter, or energy bars.
18. DRESS FOR COMFORT
Speaking of sweat, you’re going to want to dress to get wet. Shorts, t-shirts, and sneakers are a must. And if you’ll be driving home after the move-in, bring a change of dry clothes for the trip back. Body wipes and deodorant are a good idea, too!
19. MAKE A QUICK EXIT
There’s no way around it: leaving your child at school is emotional. You’re going to need Kleenex. But don’t prolong the pain with a long goodbye. Make sure your child knows you love them and you’re there for them. Remind them that “they’ve got this.” You might even leave a little goodbye gift, a note, or a care package for them. But then make your exit. Sticking around only prolongs the pain for everyone.