If you’re packing boxes for moving, don’t just dump your contents in the box and call it a day. Pack the boxes carefully, and then store your moving boxes the right way. We’ve come up with several tips that will teach you how to pack boxes for moving or long term storage.
Packing a Moving Box
1. Gather necessary packing supplies.
First and foremost, invest in actual moving boxes. Moving boxes are specifically designed for moving and storing fragile items. Old, used boxes are prone to collapsing and can even be contaminated with unwanted pests.
Other supplies to have on hand include:
- Packing tape
- Labels (grab free printable labels here)
- Packing paper, peanuts, or bubble wrap
2. Sort items by category.
Construct your first box, then pack up one small area at a time. Before you put anything inside your first moving box, group like-items together that are a similar size and weight. For instance, you can put all your favorite small knick-knacks together if you’re packing your bedroom.
3. Fill the moving box almost entirely.
For non-fragile items, fill every space that you can without making the box too heavy. Boxes that aren’t full might collapse when they’re stacked. Add excess packing paper if you have to so that each box is packed tight before you seal it.
For fragile items, make sure there are at least two inches of packing material on all sides of the box.
Also, remember to fill boxes so they weigh no more than 30 pounds. For example, use small or medium-sized boxes for heavy items like books. Use large boxes for lighter items like comforters.
4. Take extra time wrapping breakables.
Taking the time to wrap your breakables properly could mean the difference in whether or not they arrive in one piece. Again, it’s better to overpack fragile items like dishes than to under pack them. Put dishes and plates into boxes on their side, never flat. If you stack cups and bowls, be sure to place paper or padding in between each piece.
Packing Guides for Specific Items:
5. Use box dividers for small glass items.
For an added layer of protection for your breakables, take advantage of dividers that section off your moving boxes. These dividers offer the best protection for your glasses and stemware, and they come in different sizes. For an added layer of protection, wrap your glasses with packing paper or bubble wrap, and then place them in the dividers.
6. Seal and label each box.
When you’re done packing, seal each box with strong packing tape. To do this:
- Wrap the tape across the top of the box with the flaps.
- Next, wrap another piece of tape across the top of the box against the flaps.
This method of sealing prevents the box from collapsing when it’s stacked, which ultimately helps protect your belongings inside.
Finally, clearly label each box with its room and contents. Labeling not only helps you, but it will also make your movers more efficient (which will save you money).
Stacking and Storing Moving Boxes
1. Put the heaviest moving boxes on the bottom.
When you’re stacking your boxes – either on the moving truck or in a self-storage unit – make sure you put the heaviest boxes on the bottom. You want your boxes to have a lower center of gravity to prevent the boxes from tipping over unexpectedly. Plus, keeping heavier boxes on the bottom will make it so you don’t have to do as much heavy lifting.
If you place heavy boxes on top of lighter boxes, the lighter boxes will inevitably crush under pressure. As those boxes give way, the heavy boxes will collapse to the floor, and everything inside is at risk of breaking. It’s worth the extra time to arrange your boxes and stack them properly.
9. Stack moving boxes like bricks.
Stacking your moving boxes isn’t the time to play real-life Tetris. The goal is to protect your belongings; it’s not to see how many boxes you can cram into a tiny corner. Staggering the way you stack your boxes so they lay like bricks will help create a sturdy tower that can stand without falling.
10. Create an aisle between box stacks.
Storing moving boxes in your self-storage unit is effective only if you can find what you need. You might know where everything is once you move in. However, consider going to your storage unit six months from now and realizing you have no clue where anything is. Always organize your moving boxes for frequent access even if you’re not sure how often you’ll need to retrieve items.
By creating aisles when you stack your boxes, you always have access to the back of your unit, making it easier to find things. Make sure you label each box clearly, so you can see if from both sides of the aisle. This aisle method also applies if you’re putting boxes on a moving truck or in a basement.
When you know how to pack moving boxes properly, the process is much more seamless. We hope this guide showed you some helpful ways to pack them up, to fill them the right way, and stack them appropriately. Good luck!
Editor’s Note: This post originally published on May 11, 2016, and was revised on March 19, 2020.