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How To Pack For A Move: 31 Packing Tips To Help You Move Like A Pro

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Out of all of the different aspects of moving, packing up your home is the one that is the hardest to get started.  It’s easy to get stressed-out and overwhelmed when you start to think about all the work that needs to be done.  You never realize just how much stuff you actually need to pack up and move until you start opening up those unused closets, storage spaces, cabinets, etc.  I know how it goes.  I’ve moved 17 times in the last 20 years!

Bottom line: Packing for a move isn’t very fun and its a lot of work.

The good news: I’ve put together a huge list of the most helpful packing tips and hacks for moving your home. 

In this article you will learn the best packing tips and hacks that I know of to date.  Many of these packing tips are also big money-savers as well!

By the time you finish reading, you should feel confident that you know how to pack for a move and you will be ready to dive-in and get the job done!

Get excited.  Here comes the good stuff. Let’s get packing!

DIY Packing Tips And Moving Hacks To Make Your Move Easier And More Organized

This list of packing tips and hacks for moving your home is meant to help save you time, money, and effort. Let me know what you think in the comments the section after you are done reading!

Packing Tip #1: Use plastic garbage bags to easily pack up and move your clothes on hangers.

Packing Tip: Use Plastic Garbage Bags To Easily Pack Up and Move Your Clothes On Hangers

Make a hole in the bottom of the bag large enough to fit the tops of the hangers through and pull the bag over your clothes. Then use the drawstrings to tie them shut on the bottom.  Use a rubber band, tape, or string to tie the hanger tops together to keep them from shifting. This keeps them clean, together and makes them very easy to move.

You can also do this in reverse, by pulling up the bags and tying the drawstrings around the hangers.  The good part about doing it this way is that you can reuse the bags when you are done since there won’t be any holes in the bottom. Try it out!

Packing Tip #2: Zip lock bags are your friend for packing and organizing your move.

Packing Tip: Zip Lock Bags are Your Friend for Packing and Organizing Your Small Parts and Items For Your Move

Put your screws, nuts, bolts, hex keys, cords or whatever other small parts that you disassemble inside them with a label.   I like to tape the bags to the item they came off of before moving so I have all the parts there ready for reassembly in my new home. 

However you want to pack them for the move is up to you.  Just make sure you label the bags and what they go to so you aren’t wondering after the move.  Don’t try to leave it all to memory!

Packing Tip #3: Use a travel suitcase to pack your books or other small and heavy items.

Packing Tip: Use a Travel Suitcase with Wheels to Pack Your Books and Other Small, Heavy Items

Filling boxes up with books can lead to some very heavy and hard to lift boxes on moving day.   Instead, use a travel bag or suitcase with a handle and wheels makes to make this much easier.   First, fill your suitcase with your books keeping them as tight and together as possible.  Then use some clothes or towels to fill up the extra space inside so they won’t move around inside when you tip them up to transport them.  This keeps them safe and makes them a lot easier to move. 

You can use these type of bags for any other items you have that are small and heavy as well.  For example, I would pack my dumbbells and weight plates in these when I move.  Anything that is very heavy and dense makes a good candidate to pack in a roller suitcase.

Packing Tip #4: Use plastic stretch wrap to pack and secure your belongings for the move.

Packing Tip: Use Plastic Stretch Wrap To Pack and Secure Your Stuff for the Move

Plastic wrap is one item that is incredibly useful and dynamic for packing your things for a move. Stretch wrap cellophane works great to keep things packed tight with no room to shift during transport. It also does a good job of protecting your belongings from scratching or breaking. Plus, it only sticks to itself so it won’t mess up any of the surfaces you use it on (unlike tape).  I highly recommend investing in some for your next move!

Some of the best ways to use plastic stretch wrap for packing your home include:

  • Keeping knives and silverware secure in their holders
  • Wrapping up drawers to keep the contents inside
  • Preventing your drawers and cabinet doors from opening on furniture
  • Keeping moving pads tightly wrapped around your stuff
  • Wrapping stacked dishes and plates tightly together with no room to move and break
  • Keeping stacks of small boxes together for easier moving
  • Giving extra support around thin or weak boxes
  • Keeping lids closed on storage bins, tubs, etc.
  • Wrapping up couches and furniture to keep them clean and compact
  • Keeping bed frame pieces together for the move
  • Holding all your shovels, rakes, brooms, etc together nicelely
  • Covering chairs and couches to keep them clean during the move
  • and many more!

Personally, I always have a lot of fun coming up with different ways I can use stretch wrap plastic for my moves.  The last time I moved, I ran out of boxes towards the end of getting things packed up.  Instead of leaving to track down a few more, I just decided to wrap the rest of my stuff together in big wads of stretch wrap.  It ended up working very well. I love this stuff for moving.

Have some fun and get creative with it!

Packing Tip #5: Use a heavy blanket, comforter or moving pad to protect your flat-screen tvs.

Packing Tip: Use a Heavy Blanket or a Moving Pad to Pack Up and Protect Your Flatscreen TVS for the Move

This is a simple and quick way to pack up your flatscreen tvs for your move.  First, lay your blanket or moving pad down flat on the floor.  Then position your tv with its screen face down in the middle of it.  Wrap the excess blanket around the edges to the back and tape it down so it can’t move or come undone. This does wonders for protecting your screens from scratching or breaking during the move.

Packing Tip #6: Cut handles into your moving boxes for easy lifting.

Packing Tip: Cut Handles Into Your Moving Boxes to Make Them Easier to Lift and Carry

This is a great packing hack for making your moving boxes easier to lift and load. Use a box cutter to cut upside down triangles into opposing sides of your moving boxes to make handles to grip for easier lifting and loading.

Using handles is much easier than trying to get your hands underneath large boxes on the floor.  Just make sure that your boxes are made of thick cardboard so that they don’t rip when you try to lift them.

Packing Tip #7:  Label and organize your electric cords!

Packing Tip: Label and Organize Your Electric Cords

Make sure you label your electronic cords when you pack them so you will know exactly what they go to when you move in.  It’s always helpful to take pictures of them properly connected before you unplug and pack them up. This will save you the hassle of looking at a heap of cords and guessing where they go when you get to your new home.

Packing Tip #8: Use what you’ve already got for extra padding.

Packing Tip: Use What You've Already Got For Extra Padding

Re-purpose your dish towels, bath towels, large blankets, clean clothes, etc to help pad and protect your breakable items like cups, vases, dishware, pictures, mirrors, and furniture that you don’t want to scratch.

You can also use these things to take up empty space in your boxes to keep things from shifting around during the move. It will help save you money on unnecessary moving supplies. Plus, it will free up boxes you can use to pack other things.

Packing Tip #9: Don’t overload large boxes with heavy items!

Packing Tip: Don't Overload Large Boxes With Heavy Items

It’s easy to see all that space inside a large box and want to pack as much as you can inside of it. 

Remember though, that you will have to move these boxes as well.

If you make them too heavy, you will just end up risking an injury or accident. This is especially true if you have to lift and carry them down stairs or long distances. 

Instead, use the space for a few heavy items on the bottom, and mix in some lighter items on top to balance the space and weight.

Packing Tip #10: Pack an “open first” box with your move-in essentials in it.

Packing Tip: Pack and "open-first" box with your move-in essentials in it for quick and easy access

Make sure to either keep it with you in your car or load it into the truck very last. This way you will have all of the things you need immediately in one place.

It isn’t fun when you have to frantically search through a sea of boxes to find the things you need when you first move in.

Things you may want to pack inside your open-first moving box include:

  • all purpose cleaners
  • paper towels
  • window cleaner
  • flashlights
  • light bulbs
  • box cutter
  • important documents
  • phone chargers
  • batteries
  • tape measure
  • a pencil or pen and notebook
  • clean rags
  • carpet cleaner
  • screwdriver
  • pet food and bowls
  • garbage bags
  • baby food and supplies
  • shower curtain and rod
  • towels
  • and anything else you anticipate wanting to use right away.

This one is really up to you and what you decide is necessary upon arrival to your new home.  These are just some basic ideas of what you may want to include.  Take a little bit of time to plan this one out for your own needs and make sure to load it up last so that it is easy to unload when you get to your new home.

Packing Tip #11:  Put all your extra baggage to work for your move.

Packing Tip: Put all that extra baggage to work for your move

Use all of your empty duffle bags, backpacks, suitcases, storage bins, laundry baskets, (clean) garbage cans, etc for packing. There is no reason to fill boxes with things that can be used to help you move your stuff. Just make sure to properly label everything with the contents!

Packing Tip #12: Thoroughly label your boxes in multiple places.

Packing Tip: Thoroughly label your boxes in multiple places with room name and contents inside

This one is important for keeping your sanity and staying organized for the move.  Make sure to label all your boxes on the side and top with both the room where it will go and the contents inside of it. This will save you a ton of time and stress when you are moving in to your new home. 

Remember this:  the better job you do of labeling your boxes and listing their contents, the easier it will be to find what you are looking for in your new home.

Also be sure to include descriptions like “FRAGILE” or “THIS SIDE UP” where necessary.  This will help ensure that everything makes it to your new home safely.

Packing Tip #13: Put saran wrap under your lids on liquid items to avoid leaks.

Packing Tip: Put saran wrap under your lids on liquid items to avoid leaks

A great way to keep spills from occurring is to seal your lids with saran wrap. Simply remove your lids, cover the openings with saran wrap, and then screw the lids back on tightly over the plastic.  This will keep them sealed tight and secure. 

For double protection, especially with cleaning supplies, use garbage bags as well. After you seal the lids using the method above, pack up your items with liquid contents inside garbage bags.  Do this with things like laundry soap, cleaning supplies, cooking oils, shampoo and spray bottles, lotions, etc.  Close and seal the garbage bags with tape.  This way if something leaks, it doesn’t make it outside of the bag.

It is easy for spills or leaks to occur during the move and you don’t want those liquids seeping all over everything. Make sure to double check that your lids are tight and secure!

Packing Tip #14: Disassemble your furniture a few days before your move.

Packing Tip: Disassemble your furniture a few days before you move to prevent moving day delays.

Make sure to disassemble your large furniture like desks, bed frames, gym or exercise equipment, entertainment centers, etc BEFORE moving day. 

These projects can end up taking a lot longer than you expect them to take to properly disassemble and pack up.  If you wait until moving day, things like this will make your stress level skyrocket.

Plan ahead and start these projects a few days early for a better move.

Packing Tip #15: Take your stuff off the walls early.

Packing Tip: Take Down and Pack Up Your Stuff on the Walls Early to Have More Time to Patch Holes and Paint

Take down and pack your wall-hanging items like pictures, mirrors, shelves, coat racks, mounted TVs, etc a week or more before moving day.

This way you will have time to patch any holes, remove any sticky adhesive or nails, and paint anything that needs to be painted before you move out.

It’s no fun to have to do this stuff AFTER a long day of moving everything out of the house. Plan ahead!

Packing Tip #16: Pack your boxes properly based on their size.

Packing Tip: Pack Your Boxes Properly Based on Their Size for a Better Move

In general, larger boxes should be used for larger items that take up a lot of space, medium boxes for heavier items that weigh a lot, and small boxes for small things that are easy to lose track of.

Remember, if you stuff a large box with 100+ different things, it will make them harder to find and organize later on in your new home.

Packing Tip #17:  Donate your unused food that you don’t want to move with you.

Packing Tip: Donate your food that you don't want to move to your local food bank or shelter

One of the unfortunate side-effects of moving out is food waste.  It’s easy to just throw away all that stuff that’s been sitting idle in your fridge, freezer or pantry. 

Instead of wasting it, take the time to donate it to your local food bank or homeless shelter.  This reduces waste, and it goes to helping those in less fortunate circumstances.  It will surely bring you a feeling of joy as well to know that you are helping others in their time of need!

Packing Tip #18: Make sure you can close and tape your boxes shut for the move.

Packing Tip: Make Sure You Can Fully Close and Tape Your Boxes Shut For The Move

Do your best to make sure that your boxes can fully close and be taped shut. It might be tempting to keep some boxes open on top, but its a lot more risky.  Things can easily shift or spill during the move, especially when they aren’t fully closed. Closing all your boxes makes packing the truck much easier when you can stack boxes on top of each other.  It really helps when all your boxes are nice and square.

Packing Tip #19: Use your moving truck or container POD space wisely.

Packing Tip: Pack your moving truck or POD from floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall for the best move

When packing the moving truck or container, make sure to use as much vertical space as possible. Keep heavy and bulky items towards the bottom and lighter items up top. Try to fit everything as snugly against each other as possible. Make sure everything is fit tightly against the sides of your truck as well to avoid shifting during transport.

Keep in mind: Any little empty space or gap can turn into a big problem over the course of the drive to your new home.

Its a cringe-worthy experience to hear your stuff sliding around and crunching when you start turning, braking, or hitting pot holes and speed bumps. Be sure you use your space wisely!

Packing Tip #20: Use tow straps or tie-downs in the truck or moving container to secure your stuff.

Packing Tip: Use tow straps or tie-downs to secure your belongings inside your moving truck or POD

Use tow straps and tie downs to secure your stuff inside your moving truck or container. There will be multiple places to hook them to the walls. It really helps to use them to keep your boxes and furniture from shifting and sliding all over the place during transport. 

Remember that every time you brake, turn, or hit a bump it has the potential to shift your belongings around inside.  The more security measures you take to pack them up, the less likely you are to have any accidents during the move.

Packing Tip #21: Pack your moving truck or container with UNLOADING in-mind.

Packing Tip: Pack up your moving truck or POD with unloading in mind. The first things to go in will be the last things to come out.

This one is simple but easy to get wrong if you have never moved before.  Remember that whatever you pack up first in your truck or pod, will be the last thing to come out. That means if you pack your bed first, then you will need to unload the entire moving truck or container before you will see it again at your new home. Keep this in mind as you load up your stuff!

Packing Tip #22 – Secure your cabinets and drawers before moving your furniture.

Packing Tip: Secure your cabinets and drawers before moving your furniture.

Use plastic wrap, painters tape, or straps to keep any furniture drawers and cabinets closed. This will prevent them from popping out when you are lifting and loading them.

All it takes is one open drawer shot to the shin to make your realize that this tip is very important. It’s a painful experience to get hit by one while you are tilting or lifting your furniture into your truck or container. Failing to properly secure these items is a mistake you want to avoid!

Packing Tip #23 – Pack your big, soft, bulky things in garbage bags.

Packing Tip: Pack your large, soft, bulky items inside garbage bags. (stuffed animals, pillows, etc)

Use plastic garbage bags to pack and move your soft and bulky items that take up a lot of space.  Some examples include things like pillows, stuffed animals, bedding, etc.

There’s no need to use large, heavy duty boxes to pack these things. Garbage bags will keep them clean and are easy to move. You can use them when they are full to take up empty space inside the truck or container and to provide extra cushioning for your expensive furniture.

Packing Tip #24 –Save those air packets to use for your move.

Packing Tip: Save those air packets from Amazon to use for your move. (Use them like they do)

If you are one of the millions of Americans who use Amazon Prime regularly, then you know that they always fill the empty spaces in their boxes with air packets.

Start saving these as soon as you know you are going to move because they are great for packing for a move as well. Fill the empty spaces in your boxes with them (just like they do) to protect your belongings from shifting and bouncing around during the move. 

Save some money on packing materials when you plan ahead!

Packing Tip #25 – Pack a moving essentials suitcase for each member of your family.

Packing Tip: Pack a moving essentials bag for each member of your family.

This tip is similar to the “open-first” box, but it is more tailored to each person in your family.  Pack a suitcase or travel bag for each person in your household like you are going on a 3-5 day vacation.

Add things like a few changes of clothes, basic toiletries, laptops, phone chargers, important documents, favorite toys or books, etc. Make sure to include a bath towel and shower curtain as well.

Remember to keep these with you in your vehicle or load these in your truck last.  Then you can access them easily when you arrive to your new home.

Packing Tip #26 – Pack a kitchen essentials box with some basic necessities inside.

Packing Tip: Pack a kitchen essentials box with some basic necessities

This packing tip is similar to the “open-first” box as well, but is focused on your kitchen needs. 

Include things like paper towels, a few dishes or paper plates, some eating utensils, garbage bags, cups, coffee mugs, and your coffee maker and coffee. Throw in some dish towels and soap if you need. 

Add anything else that you use for eating on a daily basis and can’t go a few days without.  This will make sure you have your basics without having to fully unpack and organize your kitchen right off the bat.

Packing Tip #27 – Start packing for your move as early as possible.

Packing Tip: Start packing for your move as early as possible for less stress and better results.

I have a problem with procrastinating, I’ll admit it.  But trust me when I say that it only leads to more stress and anxiety in the long run.

Start packing up for your move as early as you can!  Pack up one room at a time for an hour or two here and there when you have time. If you chip away at your home over a longer period of time, it REALLY helps cut down on your stress and anxiety levels.

It will also give you more time to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. Also you will have more time to get your home cleaned up and ready for moving out.  Don’t wait until the last moment as packing always takes more time than you think it will take.

Packing Tip #28 –De-clutter and minimize your home as you pack.

Packing Tip: Declutter and minimize your home as you pack. (Donations, stuff to sell, trash)

Use this time to de-clutter and purge your belongings while you pack. Make donation piles in each room as well as a pile for stuff you want to sell.

Throw away anything that doesn’t fit into those 2 categories that you don’t need to keep. This is the best time to get rid of all that stuff you never use that is just taking up space! 

Remember, the more you get rid of, the less you will have to move.  The less you have to move, the cheaper it will be to move it!  

Also, the less clutter you have, the easier it will be to keep your new home clean and organized.   Now is the best time to do it, so get it done!

Packing Tip #29 – Pack up your current home with your new home in mind.

Packing Tip: Pack up your current home with your new home in mind.

For example, if your current home has an office/spare bedroom, but your new home will have 2 separate spaces for each of those, then pack them up in separate boxes and label them accordingly for your new home setup.

This will save you a lot of time during the move-in and unpacking process!

Packing Tip #30 –Disconnect your appliances early!

Packing Tip: Disconnect your appliances early to give them time to thaw out and drain before the move.

Disconnect and unplug your appliances at least 24 hours ahead of moving day. This is especially important for your freezers and refrigerator which need time to thaw out and drain before you move them. Don’t forget!

Packing Tip #31 – Pack up all your light bulbs before moving.

Packing Tip: Pack up all your light bulbs before you move.

Remove and pack up all your light bulbs from your lamps and light fixtures before you move them. It is easy for things to shift around and break them during the move if they are are not removed and properly packed away.

That’s my list of the most helpful packing tips and hacks! 

Now you know the best tips for packing up your home. I hope this article helps you stay organized and get packing!

If you still haven’t how you are going to move, I recommend checking out this awesome post: 7 Cheap Ways To Move to compare your moving options and find the best fit for your budget.

Be sure to leave a comment below if you have any questions or packing tips to add to this list. 


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4 Comments

  • Thanks for sharing this information. I have checked many articles on this topic but couldn’t find a complete explanation and then I found your article. Surely, you must have done great research for this article.

    • Thanks for the great feedback on this article Kathe! It definitely took me awhile to write this up and make the pictures. It makes me feel good to know that people like yourself find it helpful and thorough for packing up a household. Cheers!

    • Thanks for the great feedback on this article! I really appreciate it. It definitely took a lot of time and effort to make this one so I’m glad it is helpful for learning tips for packing for a move. Cheers!