How to Pack Dishes for Moving

By Jessica Wimmer | July 26, 2023

Woman wraps a white porcelain mug in paper. On the table are white porcelain plates, mugs, a roll of craft paper for packaging, scissors, and a box.

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Moving to a new home means transporting fragile items, such as kitchenware and dishes. You can choose to hire a top moving company that offers packing services, or you can pack dishes yourself. You’ll need to use the right materials and techniques to ensure these breakable items arrive at your new home safely. Here are the steps we recommend.



Choose Packing Materials

Sturdy packing boxes are essential for keeping fragile items safe during a move. Small- to medium-size boxes are best for dishes and glassware, as they’re lighter and easier to carry. A pack of 10 medium cardboard boxes or bankers boxes costs approximately $30. We recommend double-walled boxes for extra stability.

You’ll also need packing tape, a marker, and packing supplies. These are the most commonly used packing materials for dishes and glassware:

We recommend using packing paper to wrap your dishes and reserving bubble wrap, newspaper, or packing peanuts to fill space in the box and add cushioning.



Prepare and Organize Your Kitchenware

Make sure to wash and dry your dishes and glassware thoroughly before beginning to pack. Then, lay out all of your items to avoid missing any pieces.

Arrange dishes by type and size so you can pack similar items together, such as mugs, stemware, and dinner plates. To prevent breakage, pack fragile kitchen items in dedicated boxes, and don’t mix them with heavier items. Packing bowls or plates nested together will take up less space and provide greater stability.

Clearly mark each box as fragile, and indicate which side of the box should remain upright. This will make loading your rental truck easier.



Pack Your Dishes

Begin by putting a layer of loosely crumpled paper at the bottom of the box. Wrap each plate individually to prevent chipping, and put the heaviest items at the bottom. After placing items in the box, fill any empty space around them with more crumpled packing paper. This provides an essential cushion to protect items from minor bumps and jostling during the move.

Plates and Bowls

Plates and bowls are some of the easiest dishes to pack since they nest together. Place plates and bowls in the box on their edges rather than flat to prevent breakage.

  1. Place the plate or bowl on top of a piece of packing paper.
  2. Fold each corner of the paper over the edge of the dish towards its center.
  3. Repeat this process with three or four dishes.
  4. Wrap the stack of three or four packaged dishes to create a small bundle and secure it with packing tape.
  5. Place the bundle into the box on its side on top of a layer of crumpled paper.
  6. When the box is full, fill any empty spaces with more crumpled paper, tape the box closed, and label it appropriately.

Glasses and Stemware

Glasses tend to be heavy, so pack them separately from more fragile items like fine china.

  1. Put crumpled paper inside each glass.
  2. Wrap fragile areas like stems or handles first.
  3. Set the glass in the center of a piece of packaging paper; then fold the corners of the paper over the side, and tuck it into the glass bowl.
  4. Place glasses right side up inside the box on top of a layer of crumpled paper.
  5. If the glasses are sturdy, you can add a second layer.
  6. Pack any empty spaces with more crumpled paper before sealing and labeling the box.

Because stemware is delicate and easily damaged, it’s best to use boxes that have individual cell dividers. These specialty moving supplies cost more than standard boxes but provide more stability for fragile stemware.

Utensils and Knives

Packing stainless steel utensils is simple, but take special care with silver pieces and sharp knives. This is how to pack metal kitchenware:

  1. Stack matching pieces tightly together.
  2. Place the stack at the corner of a piece of packing paper and roll it up, tucking in the edges as you go.
  3. Secure the package with a piece of tape.
  4. Place in a cushioned packing box with other kitchen supplies.

To protect silver utensils, ensure the pieces are clean and completely dry, and use acid-free packing paper. Wrap sharp knives in paper, and then a layer of bubble wrap for further protection.

Serving Dishes

Serving dishes present a challenge because they vary in shape and size and are not as easy to stack as other dishes.

  1. Fill pieces that have cavities with crumpled paper before wrapping.
  2. Wrap handles or protruding knobs separately.
  3. Place the piece on the center of a sheet of packing paper, and fold the corners over the edges towards the center. Large pieces may require more than a single sheet.
  4. Place pieces in the box on their edge on top of a layer of crumpled paper.
  5. Thoroughly fill any empty space in the box with more wadded packing paper.
  6. Tape the box closed, and label it clearly.



Our Recommendation

Whether you’re using a top-rated rental truck provider or a trusted cross-country mover, you must pack your personal items well to avoid damage. Use strong, medium-size boxes for dishes and glassware. Always place a layer of crumpled packing paper on the bottom of the box and fill in any empty space with more paper.

Pack plates, bowls, and serving platters in the box on their edges, and fill the open cavities of any dishes with crumpled paper. Label fragile boxes clearly on the top of the box. For more tips, visit the American Moving and Storage Association’s website.



How to Pack Dishes for Moving FAQ

What are eco-friendly alternatives to bubble wrap?

Corrugated boxes and packing paper are biodegradable and reusable. If you like bubble wrap, you can try corrugated paper bubble wrap or bubble wrap made from recycled plastic. There are also some new products on the market that use specially formulated biodegradable plastic.

Where can I get moving boxes for dishes?

You can buy boxes online from Amazon or locally at big box retailers such as Walmart. If you’re using a moving company, they may have a well-priced package that includes packing materials. Alternatively, you can purchase used boxes through local marketplaces or ask local retailers if they’ll give you some of the boxes that their products come in for free.

How do professional movers pack dishes?

Professional movers use many of the same techniques outlined here, although they’re much quicker. Pros may use specialty boxes such as celled boxes for glassware or boxes with corrugated separators for plates. Always be sure to use the services of a reputable mover with a registration with the FMCSA and approval of professional organizations like the International Association of Movers.