Packing Your Belongings
Although most moving companies offer packing and unpacking services, many people would often choose to pack their belongings themselves. Those of you who will choose the
self moving option
rent a truck
, packing up the right way can be a challenge.
Always remember: DO NOT pack any flammables, combustibles, or explosives. The safety of the shipment is the primary concern. Movers are not supposed to transport items of that nature. Consult our Moving Guide -> Do-Not-Move Items to learn more.
If you decided to save some money by doing the packing by yourself, consult the following topics to learn how to become a packing professional.
1. Types of packing supplies
2. Planning your packing process
3. General packing techniques
4. Packing tips for different types of household goods:
5. Unpacking tips
Types of packing supplies
First, learn about different packing supplies that you might need for your move:
Packing boxes are specifically designed in various sizes for various purposes and the contents they contain. You'll need many boxes in assorted sizes. All boxes should be in good condition, and must have covers on them in order that they can be closed up and sealed.
The rule-of-thumb here is that small, heavy articles, such as books, records, canned goods, etc. would go in smaller boxes. Bulky but not so heavy articles, such as pots and pans, linens, small kitchen appliances, etc. would go in somewhat larger boxes. Very bulky, lightweight articles, such as blankets, pillows, toys, large lampshades, shoes, etc. would go in the largest boxes.
The various containers that movers use are specially designed for the purpose. They're double or triple-walled, with reinforced corners and their sized and shaped for specific uses. Many do-it-yourselfers make the mistake of thinking that all boxes are about the same, often resulting in damage to the contents in transit.
You might want to start collecting cartons from your grocery store and liquor stores. All too often grocery store cartons have the tops removed, but if you have a talk with the store manager he/she would probably be willing to save you some cartons with the covers still intact. Liquor cartons are excellent packing cartons. They are sturdy and contain dividers, which make them ideal for packing glasses, goblets, etc.
You can purchase cartons from your mover or from any packaging store. Purchasing boxes from the moving company, however, can be very expensive. Visit our Packing Supplies section to learn about different online purchase options and prices.
Different types of moving boxes are:
- Crystal/China Cartons:
These small cartons are used for packing small, very fragile items which are then put into other cartons.
- Small/Medium Boxes:
The small/medium box is a carton used for heavy items such as books, CDs, canned food, tools. The heavier the contents, the smaller the carton.
- Large Boxes:
The large box is often used for mid-weight, midsize items such as pots, pans, clothing, shoes, and nonperishable food items.
- Extra Large Boxes:
The extra large box is generally used for items such as bedding, linen, towels, lampshades, toys, etc.
- Kitchen Boxes:
Dish boxes are used for kitchen items such as dishes, pots and pans, and china. Usually come double-walled for extra protection.
- Wardrobe Boxes:
Extra toll closet style box with metal bar good for hanging clothing, as well as large houseplants, dining room chairs and draperies.
- TV/Electronics Boxes:
Double-walled protection boxes for TVs up to 27", microwaves and computer monitors
- Frame Boxes:
Those flat boxes are specifically designed for paintings, large photos and mirrors.
- File boxes:
Those boxes are specifically designed to transport or store any kind of office paperwork and files.
- Lamp Boxes:
Tall, narrow boxes, suitable for transportation of tall objects such as lamps, tall plants and golf clubs.
- Mattress covers:
These bags come in every size for every mattress and box spring type.
Bubble wrap can be used to wrap very delicate, fragile items such as figurines. It is also very helpful to protect fragile surfaces such as mirrors, monitor and TV screens, fish tanks, etc.
For similar purposes you can use tissue wraps, foam sheets and Styrofoam peanuts. All those supplies can be purchased from packaging store. Visit our Packing Supplies section to learn about different online purchase options and prices.
You are going to need plenty of wrapping paper, and for that matter old newspaper can be used. Keep in mind, however, that the ink on newsprint never thoroughly dries. Consequently, the goods you wrap in newspapers are most likely going to be soiled and will require cleaning after unpacking, and before you put them away. For items you prefer to keep clean it would be best to purchase some packing paper.
Unprinted newspaper usually comes in 10 lbs, 25 lbs, 50 lbs and 100 lbs packs, and can be purchased from your mover or from packaging store. Visit our Packing Supplies section to learn about different online purchase options and prices.
The best tape for this purpose is plastic tape. It is not recommended to use masking tape for moving purposes. Buy good packing tape and a high-quality tape dispenser. Cheap tape may not hold the pressure, and poor dispenser will certainly spoil your packing mood.
You should use packing tape at least 1.5" or 2" wide. You can purchase good packing tape from your mover or any packaging store. Visit our Packing Supplies section to learn about different online purchase options and prices.
Labeling markers: Used to label the contents of cartons. It is smart to mark your boxes with additional information, such as "FRAGILE", "THIS SIDE UP", etc.
Get wide-tip markers of different colors (red and black markers can prove to be very useful). You can find them in any office supplies, hardware, or packaging stores.
Useful hardware tools: Some tools such as scissors and knife for opening boxes can prove to be very useful, and should be at hand when you pack and unpack.
Some other packing supplies could be very useful to help you preserve your items and furniture, such as packing peanuts and edge protectors.
You can use some of your own items and materials to cushion your breakable objects. Use crumpled paper, blankets, pillows and clothing as a buffer between fragile items.
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2. Planning your packing process