Dishware needs more than just a “Fragile: Handle With Care” sign on the box. Learn how to pack dishes and other glassware the correct way with these tips.

How to use dish packs when packing dishes, glassware and other breakables

Learning how to pack dishes isn’t overly complicated. All you need are the right materials, the proper technique, and most importantly, the right boxes. Dish packs and glass packs are moving boxes designated for packing dishes and glasses safely. Each box provides extra support with additional corrugated cardboard and applicable inserts.

Since more cardboard is used to make these specialty boxes and box inserts, they are more expensive. Make sure you don’t waste them by packing non-breakables inside. Durable items like pots and pans can go in regular moving boxes. Set aside cups, plates, vases, lamp bases and any other glass or ceramic decor for dish packs.

Necessary Packing Supplies for Breakable Items

How to use dish packs when packing dishes, glassware and other breakables
  • Packing tape — It’s worth investing in a better quality tape dispenser for packing. Cheaper dispensers can get stuck or lose the tape’s edge which can make packing extra time-consuming.
  • Bubble wrap — Any packing material you have around the house can make an excellent substitute to bubble wrap, such plastic bags, old clothing or rags.
  • Packing paper — Visit your local newspaper company to ask for the end of the day rolls that do not have ink on them. Otherwise, purchase some packing paper from your local hardware store. If you use newspaper, you risk some ink transfer and an overall messier experience.
  • Dish packs and glass packs boxes — There are various dish boxes on the market, but choose a size that you’re most comfortable moving and that makes the most sense for a number of breakables you own.

Tips for Packing Dishes and Other Glassware

1. Label the box as fragile.

This tip may seem obvious, but if your dish pack doesn’t have distinct markings on the outside, mover’s might accidentally mishandle the box. Include a fragile marker, a brief description of the contents, and which side is up. Don’t fret if you forget to label which side is up. If you pack the box correctly, it won’t matter which side is up or which side is down. The most important part of this tip is to make sure the movers know there is fragile content inside.

2. Layer the bottom of the box with newsprint.

The point with this tip is to make sure the bottom of the box is as equally packed with paper as the top. You want to maintain at least two inches between the edges of the box on all sides and the box’s contents. Crumple newsprint or packing paper and be sure to densely layer it in the bottom of the box two or more inches thick. The more items in the box, the more abundant and denser this layer should be.

3. Wrap dishes, cups and glasses individually.

It’s tempting to do, but don’t try to put more than one dish or glass in a single piece of newspaper. For glasses, lay the paper of choice out flat, then starting at one corner, roll the glass diagonally across the sheet. Tuck ends into the top of the glass. For dishes, lay the plate or bowl in the center of the sheet, then fold in all sides. Make sure the item is completely covered and use packing tape to keep the paper in place if necessary. For huge things like vases or lamp bases, you may need multiple sheets. When packing wine glasses to move, make sure you provide enough paper around the stem so that it becomes as thick as the goblet section. The key is never to have open space inside the box where items can move into one another.

4. Place plates on their side vertically and create horizontal rows.

Don’t stack plates, saucers and platters flat on top of one another! This might seem like the simplest way, but it is the most common way dishes will break. If someone drops the box suddenly, the weight of the stack of plates one on top of the other can cause a few to crack. Instead, insert plates or bowls one at a time on their side and create one long row. Make sure you stuff a little paper or insert a section of wrapping between each plate for added cushioning. Cups and bowls can be nested three or four to a bundle so long as you have decent packing around each one. Put the bunch in on its side as well.

5. Set vases, glasses and lamp bases in the box vertically.

It’s essential to place larger items upright within a dish pack or glass pack box. Vases or lamp bases can break in half if the box is dropped mid-move if they are placed on their side. Try not to mix rows of plates or bowls with upright vases or cups. Keeping the boxes separate will ensure a safer move.

6. Put heaviest items on the bottom of the box.

If you have a deep box and will be creating multiple layers of dishware, make sure that there is an inch or two of cushioning between each layer. Also, make sure that the heaviest pieces are located in the bottom layer of the box.

7. Fill all space in the box with packing material.

Once the box is completely packed, fill all extra space with packing material to keep things from shifting. You want to leave at least two inches at the top of the box to mimic the amount of cushioning you have on the bottom. Make sure you don’t over pack the box. The heavier the box is, the more likely an accident will happen inside.

Read Also: Choosing the Right Boxes for Storage and Organizing

If your box isn’t overly packed and has the appropriate amount of padding, you should be able to move these boxes without a problem. If you’re packing dishes for shipping, make sure you err on the side of caution and increase padding on all sides.

Did we miss any tips? Let us know in the comments below!

Updated 11/15/17 from an article originally published 4/2013.

About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann has written about self storage and moving since 2015, making her our storage expert. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics and has published over 150 articles on moving, storage, and home organization. She is also a contributing writer at and Martha Stewart.

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