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Packing is one of the most crucial steps in the moving process. Proper packing ensures the safe transport of your valuables and makes unpacking a breeze. In this article, we’ll cover essential packing tips for moving like a pro. Whether you’re handling the entire move yourself or hiring professional movers, these techniques will make the process easier and less stressful.
Preparing to Pack
Before you dive into the packing process, take some time to declutter, create a moving checklist, and gather all the supplies you’ll need.
Declutter and Sort
Moving is a prime opportunity to let go of items that no longer serve a purpose or hold sentimental value. Here are some tips to help you downsize:
- Start early: Begin decluttering as soon as possible—ideally several weeks or months before your move. Give yourself enough time to go through each room thoroughly and thoughtfully.
- Narrow your focus: Rather than trying to declutter your entire house at once, break the task into smaller steps. If you aren’t sure where to start, try tackling one room at a time or setting a goal to declutter a certain number of items each day or week.
- Make piles: As you go through your belongings, assign each item to one of four groups: keep, donate, sell, and toss. Things you plan to take with you go in the keep pile. Other items can be donated, sold, or tossed depending on their condition and your preferences.
- Be honest: Ask yourself if you really need or want each item. If you haven’t used it in the past year and it doesn’t hold sentimental value, consider donating or selling it.
- Consider your new space: Think about the layout and storage space of your new home. Will you have enough room for all of your belongings? If not, it may be time to let go of some items.
Create a Packing Plan
Before you start packing, take time to create a plan that works for you. Follow these tips to streamline your efforts.
- Start with a checklist: Create a checklist of everything you need to pack. Organize the list by room to make the process more manageable.
- Prioritize: Determine what you can pack early and what you should save for last. Start with items you don’t use often or won’t need until after the move, such as living room decorations and off-season clothing.
- Strategize for each room: Develop a packing plan for each room in your home. Consider the layout and storage space of each room’s counterpart in your new home and the characteristics of each item you need to pack. Use that information to determine the packing supplies you need.
- Label and track your boxes: Label each box with its contents and the room in which it belongs. Keep a master inventory of each box’s contents to make unpacking easier.
Gather Packing Supplies
Before you start packing, obtain all the necessary supplies. Here are some essential items to have on hand:
- Moving boxes: Purchase various small, medium, and large boxes. If you plan to hire local or long-distance movers, ask if they provide boxes.
- Packing materials: Stock up on packing materials such as bubble wrap, packing paper, packing peanuts, and plastic wrap.
- Tape and scissors: You’ll need packing tape and scissors or a box cutter to assemble, secure, open, and disassemble boxes.
- Labels and markers: Label each box with its contents. Color code the labels or use different symbols to designate the room each box belongs in.
- Furniture covers: Protect your furniture with covers or blankets.
- Cleaning supplies: Have paper towels, cleaning spray, and garbage bags on hand to clean as you pack.
You can purchase these items from a moving company or a hardware store. You can also find boxes and packing materials for free by asking local businesses or checking online marketplaces.
Different types of items require different techniques to protect them during transport. Below are some tips for packing specific items.
Packing Fragile Items
Fragile items, such as dishes and glasses, require special care. Here’s how to pack them safely and securely:
- Use sturdy or specialty boxes: Choose sturdy boxes that can support the weight of your fragile items. Consider investing in boxes with dividers designed specifically for dishes, glassware, and other breakable items.
- Use packing paper or bubble wrap: Wrap small items in packing paper or bubble wrap to cushion them during transport. For extra protection, fill any gaps or empty spaces with packing peanuts, air pillows, or other cushioning material to prevent shifting.
- Label boxes as fragile: Clearly label boxes containing breakable items as “fragile” to remind yourself and anyone who helps to handle them carefully during the move.
- Pack items vertically: Stack dishes and glassware vertically in their boxes to minimize the risk of breakage. Be sure to pack heavier items at the bottom and lighter items on top.
Packing Clothes and Linens
Organizing and packing clothing and linens can be a time-consuming task. Here’s how to make the process more manageable:
- Use vacuum-sealed bags: Vacuum-sealed bags can maximize space and protect items from dust and moisture during transport. They work especially well for bulkier items, such as comforters and winter coats.
- Group items by category: Sort your clothing and linens by category, and pack each category separately. This will make it easier to unpack and stay organized.
- Use hangers and wardrobe boxes: Pack hanging clothes in wardrobe boxes so they can stay on their hangers. This will help prevent wrinkles and make it easier to hang up clothes in your new home.
- Label boxes clearly: Label each box with the contents and who it belongs to, such as “Sarah’s dresses.” This will make unpacking easier and help you find what you need quickly.
Packing Furniture and Appliances
Large items, such as furniture and appliances, can be tricky to pack. Follow these tips to pack them safely and efficiently:
- Disassemble furniture and appliances: Whenever possible, disassemble furniture and appliances to make them easier to transport. Keep all screws and small parts in labeled plastic bags so they don’t get lost.
- Use furniture covers: Protect each piece of furniture and appliance by using covers or blankets during transport. This will help prevent scratches or other damage.
- Wrap cords and wires: Wrap cords and wires in rubber bands, zip ties, or twist ties to keep them organized during transport.
- Use moving traps: Moving straps can help you lift and move heavy boxes, furniture, and appliances safely.
Electronics, such as TVs, computers, and speakers, require extra care during transport to avoid damage. Here are some tips for packing electronics:
- Use the original packaging: Whenever possible, use the original packaging to pack your electronics. This will provide the best protection.
- Wrap them in bubble wrap: Wrap your electronics in bubble wrap to cushion them during transport. Fill empty spaces or gaps in the box with foam blocks or another cushioning material.
- Label cords and accessories: Label each cord and accessory and keep them together in a labeled plastic bag. This will make setting up your electronics in your new home easier.
- Securely tape boxes: Use packing tape to securely tape boxes that contain electronics to prevent them from opening during transport.
Packing Toys and Games
Toys and games can take up a lot of space, but you can transport them efficiently with the right packing techniques.
- Sort them by category: Sort your toys and games by category and pack each category separately.
- Disassemble larger items: Disassemble larger toys and games to make them easier to pack and transport.
- Use small boxes: Use smaller boxes to pack toys and games that will be heavy when grouped together.
- Label boxes clearly: Label each box with its contents and room or owner, such as “Card games – hall closet” or “Sammy’s toy cars.”
Books can be heavy and difficult to pack, but you can transport them safely with the right techniques.
- Sort by size and weight: Sort your books by size and weight, then pack them accordingly. You should pack heavy hardcover books in smaller boxes to make them easier to pick up and carry and paperbacks in slightly larger boxes.
- Use sturdy boxes: Choose sturdy boxes that can support the weight of your books, such as specialized book boxes.
- Pack hardcovers upright: Pack hardcovers in a row, just as they would sit on a shelf, with their spines against the box’s side.
- Stack paperbacks: Pack paperback books in a flat stack to keep the covers and pages from bending.
- Use packing materials: Wrap delicate or valuable books with acid-free packing paper. Fill any gaps in the box with packing materials to prevent books from shifting and bending during transport.
Paintings, sculptures, and other artwork can be delicate. Here are some tips to keep them safe during your move:
- Use appropriate materials: Use sturdy cardboard boxes and materials such as bubble wrap, packing paper, and foam to cushion artwork during transport. Use cardboard corners to protect the corners of frames.
- Use crating for large pieces: For large pieces of artwork, consider using custom-made crates for extra protection. A few interstate moving companies, such as American Van Lines, offer custom crating and special packing services for fine art.
- Label boxes clearly: Label each box with the contents and the word “fragile” to ensure it is handled carefully during the move.
Loading and Transporting
After packing all your belongings, the next step is loading them onto the truck and moving into your new house. If you hire a full-service moving company, the movers will handle the heavy lifting—but you should still be available to answer questions and offer direction as needed.
Loading the Moving Truck
Using the proper loading techniques will ensure a safe and successful move. Here are some tips for DIY movers:
- Start with heavy items: Load heavy items first, such as furniture and appliances, to ensure they are securely in place at the front or along the sides of the truck.
- Use tie-downs: Use tie-downs to secure items to the truck’s walls and prevent them from shifting during transport.
- Pack boxes by weight: Stack boxes by weight, with the heaviest boxes on the bottom and the lightest boxes on top.
- Load items strategically: Be strategic about how and where you place items to maximize space and minimize the risk of damage. For example, to save space, you can place couches and mattresses on their sides.
If you hire a moving company, tell the movers which items are fragile and need special care during transport. Stay organized and keep a list of all items being transported. Consider offering refreshments throughout the day to express your gratitude.
Unloading and Unpacking
Once you and your belongings arrive at your new home, it’s time to unload the truck and start unpacking. Here are some tips as you (or your movers) unload and unpack:
- Unload items carefully: Unload items from the truck carefully to avoid damage. Use a dolly or hand truck to move heavy items.
- Check for damage: Check each item for damage as you unload it from the truck. Take photos of any damage for insurance purposes.
- Unpack essentials first: Unpack essential items first, such as toiletries and changes of clothes, to make the transition to your new home smoother.
- Follow your packing plan: Unpack one room at a time, using your packing plan as a guide. Prioritize your bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen so that you can sleep, shower, and eat in comfort.
The right preparation and packing techniques will make your move a much more seamless experience. Make sure to start early, declutter and sort your belongings before packing, and have all of the essential moving supplies on hand. Then, follow the tips in this article to ensure that everything is properly packed and secured, from delicate artwork and fragile electronics to heavy books and large appliances.
Packing Tips for Moving FAQ
When is the best time to start packing for a move?
The best time to start packing for a move is around six weeks before moving day. This will give you plenty of time to sort and declutter, create a plan, and gather essential supplies. It will also enable you to pack gradually rather than stuff things into boxes at the last minute.
What is the hardest room to pack?
The kitchen is the hardest room to pack because it contains so many fragile items, such as dishes and glasses. The kitchen is also home to many heavy and oddly shaped items, such as appliances, cookware, and perishables.
Can I hire professional packers to help me with my move?
Yes, you can hire professional packers to help with your move. Many local and cross-country moving companies offer this service for renters and homeowners.