10 Tips for Packing

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It is important to label your boxes properly to avoid any mishaps during the move. No one wants to deal with broken dishes or damaged items. Packing requires some basic skills and knowledge, especially when it comes to packing expensive or fragile items. Here are ten tips to help you pack like a pro.

10: Pack the Boxes Right

To secure boxes properly, tape the seam on the bottom and run a piece of tape perpendicular to that seam. Pad the bottom of the box with newspaper and stuff the sides with extra paper to make the bottom solid. Wrap each item with paper before packing it in the box. Once the box is filled, tape it shut and label it with its contents and your name. Always label the sides of the box, not the top.

9: Pack Boxes by the Room

Pack similar items together, such as bathroom items in one box and kitchen utensils in another. Use washcloths and towels to prevent items from moving around inside the box. Fill the boxes to the brim to prevent them from collapsing. Label each box with your name, what it contains, and an arrow indicating which side is up. If it’s fragile, make sure to write that on the box.

8: Leave Stuff in Drawers

If you want to save boxes and the trouble of moving items from a drawer to a box, then simply take the drawers out of chests and desks. Fill the drawers with items that are not breakable and stretch tape across the top of the drawer to hold the components in place. Use masking tape to avoid damaging the furniture, and remove the tape as soon as you move the drawers to your new place.

7: Stand Your Plates on Edge for Safe Packing

While it may seem logical to pack plates with their bottoms facing down, standing them on their edge is actually a safer option. Wrap each plate in newspaper and stuff the bottom, sides, and corners of the box with plenty of padding. Fill the box with so much stuffing that the plates have no room to move around. For glass items, pack the largest ones at the bottom and the delicate ones on top. If using professional movers, consider having them pack your fragile items as they are usually liable only for the things they have packed themselves.

6: Use Wardrobe Boxes to Pack Clothes

A wardrobe box is a large box with a rack inside that allows you to hang your clothes on hangers, saving you time and effort. You can arrange your clothes by season, color, or style and easily transfer them from your closet to the box’s rack. When you arrive at your new home, simply unload the clothes from the box and hang them in your new closet.

5: Attach String to Your Boxes for Easy Unpacking

To make unpacking easier, tape a box closed with a string attached underneath the tape and a bit of string hanging out. When you want to open the box, simply pull the string to rip through the tape. Although it takes a little more time to tape the string to the box, it saves you time on the back end and eliminates the need for keys or box cutters.

4: Label Your Boxes for Easy Organization

Make sure to label each box to indicate its contents and the room it belongs to. This will save you and your movers time and effort in finding the right place for each box. Label the sides of the box, not the top, with a general description of the contents and the room it belongs to.

Tip 3: Don’t Forget About Furniture Casters and Picture Hangers

During a move, furniture casters and picture hangers can easily become separated from their respective items. To prevent this, remove them beforehand and tie them together with twine, labeling them with the name of the furniture piece they belong to. Similarly, special screws and hanging devices for framed pictures and mirrors should be saved in a plastic bag and either taped to the item or stored separately with tags indicating which frame they belong to.

Tip 2: Start Packing Early

Waiting until the last minute to pack can cause unnecessary stress. Begin packing well ahead of time by starting with items that won’t be needed in the next few months, such as out-of-season clothes, holiday decorations, and books that have already been read. This will help alleviate the pileup of boxes and make the process less overwhelming.

Tip 1: Pack Smart

When packing, remember to pack small items in large boxes and large items in small boxes. This will prevent heavy items from breaking through the bottom of a large box. However, books should be an exception to this rule, as filling a big box with small books can make it too heavy to carry. Additionally, pack heavier items at the bottom of the box and lighter items at the top. If a box is too heavy to lift without straining, it likely contains too many heavy items and should be repacked.

Originally Published: Nov 13, 2009

FAQ for Home Packing Tips

When is the ideal time to start packing for a move?

About eight weeks before the planned move date is the ideal time to begin packing. While you may not be able to pack up your entire kitchen that early, start with items such as books, holiday decorations, and seasonal items that are not in use. This will help reduce stress as the big day approaches.

What is the most cost-effective way to move locally?

Renting a moving truck from a company like U-Haul or Penske and moving yourself is the cheapest way to move locally. Begin collecting free cardboard boxes months in advance and ask friends and family for help on move day, if possible, to reduce expenses.

Is it worth paying for professional packing during a move?

For many people, paying for professional packing can add thousands of dollars to their moving budget, making it not worth it. However, if you’ll need to take time off from work to pack, it may make sense. It may also be worthwhile if you’re moving cross-country, as there is a skill to packing that will keep your belongings safe during transportation over rough roads for miles and miles.

How can I pack efficiently?

Packing efficiently can be achieved by following the tips in this article, such as labeling boxes, packing boxes by room, and packing heavy items in smaller boxes.

What is the best way to pack and move on short notice?

Packing and moving on short notice can be challenging, but it is doable. Consider the following tips: Rent a DIY moving truck, gather any materials you can and use trash bags when possible, pack breakables in clothing and other soft materials, seek help from friends and family, prioritize functionality over organization and labeling, and donate or dispose of items you no longer need.

Additional Resources

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • How Landlords Work
  • How Buying a House Works
  • 5 Things You Should Do One Month Before You Move
  • 10 Things You Should Do Two Months Before a Move
  • 5 Things You Should Do One Week Before You Move


1. How do I start packing?

Start by making a list of everything you need to take with you. This will help you stay organized and ensure you don’t forget anything important. Then, gather all the necessary packing supplies, such as boxes, bubble wrap, and tape.

2. How do I pack fragile items?

Wrap fragile items in bubble wrap or packing paper and place them in a sturdy box. Fill any empty space in the box with packing peanuts or crumpled paper to prevent items from shifting during transport.

3. How do I pack clothing?

Roll clothing instead of folding it to save space. Pack shoes in plastic bags to keep them separate from clothing. Consider using vacuum-sealed bags to compress bulky items like jackets or blankets.

4. How do I pack electronics?

Remove batteries from electronic devices and pack them separately. Wrap each item in bubble wrap and place them in a box with packing peanuts or crumpled paper to prevent damage.

5. How do I pack books?

Place books in small boxes to prevent them from becoming too heavy. Pack them spine down and fill any empty space with packing material to prevent shifting during transport.

6. How do I label my boxes?

Label each box with the contents and the room where it belongs. This will make it easier to unpack and ensure everything ends up in the right place.

7. How do I pack valuables?

Keep valuables, such as jewelry and important documents, with you during transport. Use a secure bag or container to keep them safe.

8. How do I pack large items?

Disassemble large items, such as furniture, if possible. Wrap each piece in protective material and label the pieces for easy reassembly. Consider hiring professional movers for large items.

9. How do I pack for a long trip?

Plan to pack enough clothing for at least a week. Roll clothing to save space and consider packing items that can be worn in multiple outfits. Pack toiletries and other essentials in a separate bag for easy access.

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