Moving? Let’s Pack!
After years in the business, I learned a lot about packing. There are many opinions out there about what is the best way to do it. I have tried a lot of “techniques” and I’ve come up with my favorites, below. Here’s my guide to pack like a pro for smooth moving!
First Things First
Packing doesn’t have to take forever. If you have your supplies in place, and schedule time to get the job done, it can go quickly. Wear sturdy, comfortable clothing. Get a bottle of water(and possibly some snacks). Beware of distractions, though. If it helps you, play music in the background. That always gets me energized and helps motivate me!
1- Least used items first: This will include off-season clothing, off-season sports equipment, special occasion clothing and accessories, rarely-seen kitchen items and appliances, décor, and holiday things that aren’t in use. Any other infrequently used items can be packed at this time.
2- Secure valuable items. Make sure you collect your valuables and put them in a safe location for the duration of packing. This can include: jewelry, “forever” documents(passports, marriage license, birth certificates, deeds, titles, copyrights, and the like) Add to this your eyeglasses and/or contacts, vitamins, and medications, if applicable. You will transport these things in your car on moving day.
3- Room by room, get your packing completed. As boxes are filled, tape them shut, label them, and record them on an inventory list. Please refer to my post, “Smooth Moving.” There is a whole section on keeping a proper inventory.
4- Stack the boxes and keep them off to the side. Keep heavier boxes on the bottom of each stack, and don’t stack them more than 2 or 3 high.
Moving supplies can be obtained in several ways. The moving companies themselves can provide them for an additional charge. If you are renting a van and doing the move yourself, the van rental place will often sell supplies. You may save a little bit of money if you’d rather purchase from a store.
One of my family members found gently used(only once) moving boxes on Craig’s List. The boxes were enough to hold the contents of an average-sized one bedroom apartment, and they cost a mere fraction of what new boxes would have. In addition to being budget-friendly, using recycled items is eco-friendly, and thus in keeping with Permaculture Principles. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to “think outside the box!”
In addition to boxes, be sure to purchase enough tape. Packaging tape is a must, but a roll of painter’s tape can also come in handy to secure wrappings around fragile items and pictures.
Markers are essential to label boxes. Invest is good quality, thick markers will make words easy-to-read at-a-glance.
Packing paper is easy to use for fragile items, such as dishes and glassware. It is less costly, and, of course, better for the environment than plastic or “bubble” wrap.
5- Box cutter or scissors
A cutting tool is helpful to quickly slice through tape when unpacking. I find box cutters to be quicker and easier to use than scissors.
If hiring a moving company, ask if they can supply wardrobe boxes on moving day. If so, clothes, coats, etc. can stay on hangers and placed in these boxes. The movers can then transport them and re-hang the clothing in your new home.
If this is not possible, take hung clothing in your car. In a pinch, I’ve seen people turn a large, plastic trash bag(like a contractor’s bag) upside down, snip a small hole in the center bottom of the bag. They then use it in much the same way as a dry cleaning cover.
Folded clothing is easy to pop into a box. If you are working with a mover, ask them if you can leave the soft, lightweight items in the dresser drawers. Many will comply, so long as you remove heavy items to pack separately. Fill dead spaces with crumpled paper to minimize shifting.
Shoes should have their own dedicated boxes. Some people mix them with other items. For example, some folks would place shoes at the bottom of the wardrobe cartons before adding their hung clothing. But the truth is shoes are very dirty. I believe you’re better off keeping shoes separate.
For heavy items, such as books, use the smallest possible boxes. Small boxes made especially for moving are usually about 1.5 cubic feet in size. The lighter-weight items, like pillows and bedding, can go in medium to large boxes. Things that fall into a medium-weight category can go into different sized boxes depending on the item. Dishware and glassware often go in medium to large boxes that are thicker, reinforced cardboard.
Dishes and Glassware
Wrap no more than 2 or 3 dishes together, separating them with a layer or two of paper. Stand these bundles vertically in the boxes.
For glasses, cushion them inside and out. Stemware should have extra protection around each stem. Some pros say to turn stemware upside down in the box, others say to alternate them upside down to right side up. Still, others say it doesn’t matter. Use your discretion.
Use cushioning for fragile items. My personal preference is paper, as it is easy to use and compostable. It is also less expensive than plastic products, such as bubble wrap. The key is to pack things so there is minimal to no shifting in the box. After items are placed, add crumpled paper to fill in the gaps.
Things such as shampoos, liquid soaps, lotions, and other liquid or gooey things need reinforcement to keep them closed. Tape shut with painter’s tape and then place in sealable zipper-top bags.
Do not pack matches, lighters, or anything combustible in a cardboard box! Don’t do it! Just don’t! (Actually, most, if not all, moving companies will advise you accordingly.)
Pictures and Mirrors
Pictures, mirrors, and wall hangings need to be wrapped well and placed in shallow boxes. These boxes need to be stood upright. This should be obvious, but I’m mentioning it anyway – do not lean on a picture if you are wrapping it as it lies flat. You could break the glass and cut your hand. Yes, I witnessed this very thing once. Be careful!
TV’s and Electronics
TV’s, computers, and large electronics all need to be handled very carefully. Recruit the most tech-savvy person in the home to disconnect everything. Be sure to use lots of cushioning when packing these items, and keep components together. This will facilitate an easier re-connect at the new place. Some people feel more secure moving these things in their own car, and some prefer to pay professionals to pack them. Do what works best for you and your situation.
You will need to take these in your car. They’ll get mashed in a moving van, and they do not transport well in a box. Corral them in an old laundry basket or dishpan.
Large sculptures and other art needs to be packed well. If you have a valuable collection, and you are nervous, you may wish to contact a professional service that specializes in moving only art. I had a client who had a large, expensive art collection and that is exactly what she did. It gave ALL of us peace of mind!
If you are getting ready to make a move, I hope you will find this guide to be helpful. Please let me know if any of these tips worked for you!