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When you’re planning a move, knowing how to pack your boxes can help you stay organized, protect your belongings, and even alleviate moving anxiety. Whether you’re moving to a big city, living alone for the first time, or have just closed on your dream home after years of saving money, use these eight tips to pack moving boxes efficiently!

Collect Moving Supplies

In preparation for packing moving boxes, it’s important to gather the right moving supplies. While there are many ways to get free moving boxes to make your move cheaper, purchasing new boxes can be a more reliable option. Buying moving boxes guarantees cleanliness and sturdiness, and also makes it easier to stack boxes in a moving truck. Plus, you can choose the perfect box sizes and types for the belongings you need to pack, including wardrobe boxes or dish boxes. You’ll also want to purchase moving supplies like packing tape, packing paper, packing peanuts or bubble wrap, furniture covers, plastic zipper bags, and packing labels. Consider creating a moving binder to help you stay organized while moving!

Organize Items by Category

Before you start packing for a move, set aside necessities like toiletries, first-aid supplies, wallets, and important documents. You’ll want to keep these essentials in one box for easy access while moving. Next, go room-by-room and group like-items that are similar in size and weight. This is the best way to pack boxes for moving since it makes for easy unpacking, as items that belong in the same room will already be together. For example, keep all your non-essential toiletries in the same box, or group your kitchenware. Just be sure to declutter your home as you go to avoid spending time and energy packing items you don’t need anymore.

Pay Attention to Weight

It’s good to know individual moving boxes should weigh no more than 30 pounds for your safety, as well as the integrity of the box. To avoid overloading or under-packing your boxes, it’s best to use small or medium-sized boxes for heavy items and save light items for larger boxes. The best way to pack books is to use small boxes, and to pack items like comforters, lampshades, and towels in large boxes to avoid making them too heavy. Being mindful of weight as you pack will make your moving boxes easier to carry and less likely to break open from being too full. Be sure to be efficient while packing your moving boxes and put the heaviest items on the bottom and gradually get lighter as you fill up the box. This will help keep your lighter objects from breaking or being crushed by something heavier during transport.

Pack Moving Boxes Strategically

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When packing moving boxes, you should take advantage of every last inch without overstuffing. Boxes that aren’t full enough might collapse when they’re stacked, while boxes that are overpacked could break or disfigure. Moving boxes that are packed properly should feel full, but not so much they bulge or seem as though they could burst open. Be sure to fill any empty spaces in boxes with lightweight items like towels or extra padding and packing paper. Pack small miscellaneous items in sealed plastic bags and put them near the top to fill gaps and maximize space in each box. Minimizing empty space also keeps your items more stable, which helps to prevent damage caused by shifting during transport.

Take Measures to Protect Breakables

Taking extra time and caution when packing breakables is essential to getting them to your destination safely. When packing china, glassware, Christmas ornaments, and other fragile decor items, the most important thing to remember is to use plenty of padding. This helps cushion items and prevent breakage during transit. The best way to pack dishes for moving is to wrap them individually in packing paper, place them in the box on their sides, and separate each piece with additional padding—such as bubble wrap. Moving mirrors, paintings, and other artwork also requires precautions. For mirrors, tape an “X” over the glass with masking tape to help prevent shattering. Wrap all pieces entirely in bubble wrap, moving blankets, or layers of stretch film before packing them vertically in the box and filling empty space as needed.

Wrap Electronics Properly

Like mirrors and glassware, electronics also require special attention when packing to ensure they stay intact. The best method for moving electronics is to pack them back in their original packaging. However, you can also place your electronics in an appropriately sized moving box and add packing peanuts or bubble wrap to keep them secure. When moving a TV, computer, or laptop, wrap the screen in a protective cover, like moving blankets or plastic wrap. Be sure to unplug everything and tightly wind up any cords. Also, make sure to keep all pieces together to simplify the unpacking process and avoid losing pieces during the move. It also helps to tape small items like wires or remotes to the back of the larger pieces they belong to in order to avoid losing them.

Pack Clothes Separately

When considering how to pack clothes for moving, organize items by season and family member first. Purchasing wardrobe boxes is a great moving hack because you can simply transfer clothes hanging in closets onto the built-in rod in the boxes. This not only saves time and effort while packing but also helps you avoid wrinkling or damaging your clothes while moving. Regular cardboard boxes are helpful, too. One of the best ways to pack clothes is to poke the hangers through the end of a garbage bag and drape the plastic down around your clothes before packing them in boxes. This keeps clothing items organized and protected during the move. Consider vacuum-sealing off-season clothes to save space in your boxes.

Seal & Label Each Box

Once you finish packing a moving box, seal it with strong packing tape to secure the seams and make the tops even and stackable. The best way to tape a moving box is to lay the flaps flat and tape them down. Then, wrap another piece of tape across the box against the flaps. This sealing method prevents the moving box from collapsing when it’s stacked, which ultimately helps protect your belongings inside. Be sure to tape all the way across and slightly down the sides so the pieces don’t unstick. After securing the box with tape, clearly label it with its destination room and contents, so you know exactly where it should go when you move into your new home.

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Need self storage while moving? Life Storage has storage facilities throughout the U.S. that can help. Find available storage units near you!

This post was originally published 03/25/2023, and last revised on 06/17/2024 with updated information.

About the Authors

Emily Malkowski

Emily Malkowski is a writer and SEO strategist with over 5 years experience, in Buffalo, New York. Having graduated from University at Buffalo with a Bachelor's degree in Communications, her work has appeared in outlets like The American Prospect, Roadtrippers Magazine, Step Out Buffalo, and more.

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